Building a Facebook Following

Why do you want a Facebook presence? After all, isn't that just for people with too much time on their hands? Actually, if that's what you think, you probably just don't get it. Don't look at it as a media for kids or entertainment only. The telephone (land line or cell) is used by your kids and for entertainment, but you use it for business. Think about it!

True, your kids are probably a lot more active on Facebook that you are, but they are doing something that your business needs, they are connecting with people that are interested in what they have to say. Now, if you get beyond the silly messages like who called for a date or where someone ate lunch, take a close look at what they are doing. They are connecting with people, without a face to face meeting and sometimes without really knowing who the other person is. They are making friends online through their groups of friends. In business terms, they are building relationships by leveraging existing relationships. In other words, they are networking. When you look at things from that perspective, there are some real marketing opportunities here. Interested? Here are a few ideas on how to get started.

First, you need your own Facebook account. I'm not going to go through the steps to set up your account; Facebook provides plenty of help in this area. Next, take the time to set up a Fan page for your business. It connects to your personal account but lets you post information about your business. After all, isn't this why you are doing this?

Now comes the fun part, finding people to talk to. Notice I didn't say prospecting or lead generation. You are looking for people that are talking about topics that interest you (a learning experience) or give you an opportunity to showcase what you know (educate others). It's not a good idea to push your product or service. One of the fastest ways to turn people off is to tempt them with something interesting and then deliver an advertisement. You are going to spend time here, finding people and talking to them but not selling. You are not at a trade show selling your products or services. Picture yourself at a cocktail party (minus the food and drink) trying to get to know people. Search out the various groups and join the ones you can contribute to. Your goal is not to join a group of people looking to buy from you today but rather groups that have the potential to become clients or will attract prospects. You need to do your homework here. Let's say that you are a real estate agent. One of the groups you might want to join is a group of community minded citizens in your area (assuming the group is interested in the general welfare of the community rather than a civic action group trying to stop the development of a parcel of land). Conversations around what is happening in your village or town will attract potential buyers. By conversing with the others in the group, you will be perceived as a great source of information. Buyers will find you. It takes time and effort but in the end, it's worth it.

What is important to remember here is that your conversation with the group is open to the world to see and hear, in their time and at their choosing. You will be searchable and the conversation remains around for a while. A word of caution about this double edged sword. It can be like making a fool of yourself by dancing around with a lampshade on your head and then finding your picture all over the local newspaper. You can't always control who sees what you said and what they do with it. What you say will always be connected with you. Make sure it is something of value.

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