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The F word

Using Facebook to generate business.

Facebook has its critics, but with an estimated one billion users, it’s a marketing tool that you really can’t afford to ignore, especially as the only cost to you is likely to be your time.

Technophobes might dismiss it out of hand. Compulsive-obsessives might already be spending an inordinate amount of time online. And freedom of rights campaigners might dislike the Facebook ‘police’ who can, and often do, wrap you over the knuckles about what they consider to be offensive comments or photographs.

But love it or hate it, Facebook is here to stay. And whether you already have a presence on what is undoubtedly the world’s leading social networking site, or are still undecided as to whether it will help your business, here are some tips:

Firstly, decide why you are joining Facebook, and let that determine how you use it - are you looking for new clients, want to keep in touch with existing ones, or simply feel you have something to say?

The choice is then yours - set up a personal page, a business page, or both. You can mix and match, but it has its complications. Personal pages should be just that - your Facebook friends should be people you already know, who take an interest in your life outside of your business, and whose lives you are interested in. Some people, even those who run a naturist-related business, like to keep that side of their lives separate, and don’t necessarily want their granny, old schoolmates or friends’ children being shocked, embarrassed or titillated by the fact that they happen to spend a lot of their time with no clothes on. Customers and potential customers who don’t know you personally meanwhile aren’t going to be interested in the minutiae of your daily life.

My advice therefore is to set up a totally separate page for your business. You’ll need a separate email address (but probably already have one for the business anyway) and simply need to decide whether you opt for another personal-style page, which allows you to add Friends (ie customers), or a fan-page, which customers will then ‘like.’

Both share some standard functions, such as the ability to load comments, photos, events and interests. The former gives you the option of more personal interaction with fellow users, so is ideal if you are a small niche business with a select number of customers. The latter offers the opportunity to get your name or brand across to a wider audience. It all depends, therefore, on what you are ‘selling.’

Either way, here are some important do’s and don’ts to ensure you get the most out of Facebook:

DO

Keep adding to your list of interests, as this will attract like-minded users.

Post forthcoming events, use the invitation facility, and monitor it regularly.

Only post relevant comments and photos. You don’t want to swamp your page, or the inbox of fellow users, with trivia and jokes.

Show implied rather than blatant nudity. Yes, there is plenty of full frontal nudity on Facebook, despite what its critics say, but it’s not worth taking the chance of being reprimanded or banned.

Be wary that there are a lot of perverts out there. Be careful with the personal information you divulge.

DON’T

Assume that the world will find you. You need to drive visitors to your page, not just via Facebook but by other social networks, together with your website, advertising, marketing literature and email signature.

Get obsessive. Keep your page updated by all means, and respond promptly to questions and enquiries, but remember you have a life.


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