When I talk to clients about social media they usually dismiss Facebook as not being appropriate for their business.
But if you are working with or targeting young professionals then you should certainly be considering Facebook as part of your marketing and communications mix. And many companies now recognise that Facebook is a good platform for engaging with the over 50s as they are the fastest growing group of users.
So here’s five good reasons why Facebook might be good for your business:
1. To manage your reputation
A Facebook campaign against a brand or business is far from unusual. Disgruntled customers or former employees can criticise a company through their own personal profile, through a brand’s Facebook page or even set up a specific page or group to criticise or campaign against an organisation or product. Instead of ignoring the complaints, or trying to take down negative comments, you can use Facebook to put your side of the argument, to address customer concerns and to ask customers and people who do rate you to share their positive comments on your Facebook page. If you have made a mistake then admit it, but do stay cool and don’t get involved in a Facebook catfight.
American fast food chain Taco Bell recently used Facebook as part of a social media strategy to tackle a potential crisis. In response to a recent lawsuit (and ensuing negative press), which the company claims misrepresents the contents of their beef products, Taco Bell responded quickly with an online campaign that used Twitter, YouTube and Facebook to directly address and thank their customers. Many of the hundreds of comments on the Taco Bell Facebook page are positive, praising the company’s stance and their products.
2. To recruit talent
As part of their recruitment strategy, Ernst & Young created their first Facebook group page in 2006 to connect with students interested in learning more about careers with the global company. Now 58,967 people ‘like’ the Ernst & Young’s Facebook page. In order to create a pool of the brightest talent, Ernst & Young starts an online relationship with university students months – and even years – before they graduate.
3. To move up Google rankings
Having a Facebook page for your business can increase your online visibility. A Facebook page is public so any links you put into it back to your website or blog are known as ‘do follow’ and will be picked up by search engines. By updating your page regularly with links back to your site you should move up the rankings.
4. To promote an event and engage with delegates
Facebook allows you to invite people to an event, post reminders and carry on discussions with delegates. You can see who is going to attend your event and those who are maybes. With so many young professionals using the social network, Facebook can be an excellent way of promoting an event to would-be delegates. The Yorkshire & Lincolnshire group of Chartered Institute of PR (CIPR) has its own Facebook group (see definition of terms below) which it uses to promote forthcoming events. Attendance at events has improved since the CIPR started to use Facebook as marketing tool
5. To network and build relationships
Facebook might be more social than LinkedIn but you can have valuable relationships which could lead to business. To use an offline analogy, LinkedIn is the CBI, the IoD or The Rotary Club whereas Facebook is more like the local tennis club, the pub or even your hairdresser. All places where you can meet someone you might in future do business with. I know of several senior people who chose not to be on LinkedIn – sometimes because their jobs are too sensitive – but who are on Facebook in a personal, not professional capacity. I have secured conference speakers from my company’s own Facebook networks of friends.
Now that Facebook has 500 million users worldwide and is more popular than Google as a search engine, should businesses really ignore the social network?