Facebook is steadily becoming the largest social network on the Internet, with over 175 million active users. Consumers are turning to Internet resources, such as Facebook, when searching for feedback on a company's products and services. Facebook allows businesses the chance to build customer evangelists, connect with new or existing customers, promote products, participate in conversations, establish credibility in their industry and create brand awareness. Best of all...it's free!
How Do I Use Facebook as a Viral Marketing Resource?
Personalize Your Business - The first thing to do is build your business a Facebook page. This is a public profile that enables you to communicate information about your business and products to other users. These pages are visible to everyone and do not have limitations on the number of fans. Your business page should engage your visitor and establish credibility around your brand, services and products. Showcase the value of what you are promoting, target your desired audience and encourage your visitors to interact with your brand on a personal level.
Red Bull does a great job at targeting their audience and engaging their fans. When entering the page, you'll immediately notice that Red Bull promotes an active lifestyle and encourages fans to interact with their page. They do a great job of targeting and engaging their audience through promotional videos, polls, music downloads and events hosted by Red Bull. Red Bull advocates an active lifestyle for individuals in their late teens to early thirties with events such as break dancing battles, concerts, skateboarding, snowboarding and surfing contests, all promoted through their Facebook page.
Regularly updating your Facebook page will keep your fans returning. Sending your fans upcoming announcements such as promotions, events and news will not only keep your fans coming back but will also expose your business to the friends of your current fans when they browse your fan's interests.
Creating Groups - Creating a group is one of the best viral marketing tools on Facebook. It allows customer evangelists to invite other people with the same interests to join your group, increasing your fan base. Facebook groups are one of the best ways to establish a community around your company's brand. Establishing a group will bring people together with the same common interests and allows for open discussions around your brand. Out of the box, Facebook groups come with a discussion wall, events, photo sharing, video distribution and links. It allows the administrator to send news and updates to members. Like a Facebook page, updates on a consistent basis will keep users and fans returning to the group.
A Few Helpful Hints for Growing Your Facebook Fan Base
Community Appeal - It is important to target the right audience. Make sure your page/group is categorized correctly. It should include a title and description that complements your brand and encourages people to join your group or become a fan of your business.
Invite Existing Friends - Send an invitation to existing friends that may find the page or group interesting. This technique may become viral as friends of friends see what they have become fans of and provide your group or page the opportunity to grow in popularity.
Events - Facebook events are a great way to arrange meetings with friends and promote upcoming events in your community. Once an event is created, it is much like a group, in that it is a full-page and includes all the features of the group. For example, this application allows the user to hold discussions and upload photos and videos. When inviting friends to your event, they'll receive a notification and have the ability to send a request to their friends so that they may attend the event with them.
Mini-Feed - The Facebook mini-feed becomes viral in that these applications document your fans' interactions with events, groups and business pages, while adding their interaction to their friends' mini-feeds. The mini-feed can be viewed by everyone and is showcased on the profile page of the user. The mini-feeds can create exposure for your company on a large scale, without too much effort on your part.
Photos - The most popular feature on Facebook is photos. Therefore, it is a good idea to upload photos frequently to your Facebook page. Photos add the human element to your company. Post photos of events, customers, social gatherings and your employees. Every time photos are added to your page, your fans receive updates that new photos have been added and increase the chances of visitors returning to your page. Be careful how you use the photo section. If your company only posts pictures of your logo, it may appear redundant and credibility is lost.
Video - Videos are a great way to engage your fans. It is a personal way to promote products and showcase your company's culture. Videos enhance your customer experience and can provide evidence on the quality of your products and services. Not only does it put a face on your company, but can build trust with your viewers.
Like photos, your fans will receive updates as videos are added and tagged. It increases the chances of your visitors returning to your page. Also, your fans are more inclined to share the videos with their friends, which will increase the potential of gaining additional fans to your company's Facebook page.
Facebook Wall - Facebook wall is a public place for your fans to post comments about your business, products and services. This interaction is visible to anyone who views your Facebook page, if you allow your fans to post. When you write on your Facebook wall, it is important to keep in mind that you are writing on behalf of your company, not your user profile.
Facebook wall has additional features, such as the ability to add videos and photos. These can help in the interaction of the fans with your brand. Be sure to use these tools to engage your fans, target your desired audience and build credibility around your business. Credibility is established by your customer evangelists promoting your business for you. Their videos put a real face on the people who use your products and services. Having people who don't work for your organization, promote your business, establishes trust in your company.
Applications (Widgets) A widget is a graphical element created to display information and allows users to interact with the application. Most widgets include buttons, pull-down menus, icons, forms and scroll bars. So what does this mean for marketing? If an application is created as a valuable resource that your fans enjoy, they can send the widget code to friends to embed on their Facebook profiles and pages. It becomes viral because it can be downloaded and forwarded on to as many people who desire the application. These applications are an extremely valuable resource because of their potential to spread at a fast rate. It will introduce your Website to users who would never know that your site exists. If done correctly, it can reduce your Website's reliance on search engine optimization, search marketing and provide one-way links. Ultimately, these applications can assist in increasing your Website's popularity in the search engines.
Discussion Groups Discussion groups are a feature only available in groups. This allows your group members to have a bulletin board to discuss different topics around your brand. It's a great way for you to get the conversation started with your brand evangelists.
Online marketing isn't just optimizing for organic search rankings and running paid search campaigns anymore. The Internet has evolved into an interactive experience using people as instruments to create credibility and establish brand awareness. Viral marketing tools such as Facebook should be used to create community around your brand, establish customer evangelists and promote products and services, while learning about your customer's experience. Facebook also puts a face on your business and establishes credibility with potential customers. Since Facebook is a free resource available to business owners and is viral in nature, what do you have to lose?