Determining whether social networking is right for you
by Colette A. Weil
July 24, 2012

In the June issue of the magazine we discussed the basics involved in utilizing Facebook to help market your business, also dispelling some common misconceptions people may have. Let’s conclude with an overview of the opportunities it presents along with pitfalls to be avoided.

Opportunities

Facebook presents many opportunities for your business. This is a marketing communication and relationship-building tool. When you are seeking new employees, where are the first places they will go to get a sense of your firm, products, culture and “vibe”? They will Google you, look at your website and check out your Facebook page.

We have witnessed the power of social media in many other situations: for fundraising, to raise political consciousness and action, to communicate fast-changing events and to share the good, bad and ugly. You can use Facebook for your business to inspire comments about care, share Medicare policy changes and encourage comments about your services, patients’ needs and more.

Facebook and YouTube are visual mediums. Post photos and videos of success stories, events, contest winners, children helped by your services (with a signed photo release consent form by their parents), new employees, etc. Photos and videos are the most compelling means to gain attention and get a click for a “like” or “share.”

Businesses can obtain a vanity URL address for their Facebook page so that the URL includes their business name. Facebook pages can link to the company’s website or direct sales to e-commerce sites.

Common Missteps

 

  • It’s not all about you. This means that posting only product information is not compelling. The caveat to that is if you show a “before and after” use or give a customer testimonial to lend authentic credence to the information you are posting. Remember, this is social media. Talk about common customer situations and how they were solved. Ask for recommendations. Hold giveaway contests for something of general interest like back pillows, massagers, etc. Have a naming contest. Pass along good articles that will help your customers
  • You’ve posted five times, but no one “likes” your business or is commenting. This is common. It takes awhile to build conversation. Be sure to include a clickable Facebook icon in your e-mail marketing and on your website. Put this graphic (or the others that are available, such as “Follow Us on Facebook”) in all your printed and online materials, ads, invoices, etc.
  • Lengthy time gaps occur between postings because you are so busy. Someone needs to be devoted to social media for your business who will be sure to post regularly.
  • People are starting to post but you don’t have time to respond. This is why you are posting—to get interaction. Reply to posts. Facebook is a personal communication medium. When you respond, you communicate your business’ personality and direct voice. People who post want to know that someone is listening.

If you are reading this and use Facebook, talk to your employees and suggest creative ways that your company can engage, interest and entertain your target Facebook audience. A cool trick one company tried was posting a password on their Facebook page that could be redeemed in-store for a free small gift (the value was under $2). And, of course, people should “like” the page to hear about other fun offers.

If you are a business owner, be realistic about social media and the time necessary to build and maintain your presence. If you don’t have the in-house time, consider hiring a college student to assist in regular postings. Keep in mind that social media is here to stay. Start slowly now and your customers will “like” you and you will build a Facebook platform to gain new customers for years to come. Don’t get caught under the marketing rock of slow adaptability.