Facebook has recently been given a major overhaul with how information is presented with the new Timeline feature. How can businesses make the most of their Facebook Pages?
The extraordinary growth of Facebook – 900 million users and heading for a billion - means Facebook is now a commercial channel that no business can ignore. Today businesses use their Facebook pages to not only engage with their customers, but also to sell goods and services. Indeed, according to analysts IDC, 15 percent of the total customer spending in developed countries could be via Facebook within three to five years.
The big name brands may grab all the limelight, but even the smallest enterprise can use Facebook to shout about its service and products and make real - and lasting connections - with their paying customers. In essence when viewed from a business perspective, Facebook can offer any business:
- A direct connection with consumers to deliver high levels of brand recognition and brand recommendation
- Customer service opportunities that can develop close relationship that often result in up-selling activity
- A completely new commercial channel that can complement your normal website or physical stores
- Development opportunities for new social-based services
- Click through rates and conversion on your website can be radically improved with a Facebook campaign
- For business there has never been a platform that offers such a diverse range of potential customers that can be highly segmented to allow focused ad campaigns to target customers for even niche products or services.
Adapting the Facebook Timeline for your business
Facebook had a facelift recently introducing a range of new features most notably the Timeline. Your business now has a large image space (851 x 315) pixels in size for the larger image, and 180 x 180 for the smaller image to brand your Facebook Pages.
Note that your cover page photos can't include any contact information, calls to action messages or pricing information for your enterprises goods or services. However, this doesn't mean you can't be creative as these businesses have been when designing their Timelines
Your business can also make the most of some new features that include:
- Direct messages – you can allow users to send personal messages to your business reinforcing your brand values
- Milestones – these are highlights that your business can shout about and can include impressive images at 843 x 403 pixels
- Arrange your Timeline – any content on your Timeline can be highlighted with a star or icon, or deleted if you wish
Facebook has now become much more interactive. Your business' Pages should be interesting places to visit with new content regularly featured. Images have been shown to improve interactions so try and think visually when developing new content for your business' Facebook Page.
New content can now be 'pinned' to the top of your Timeline giving your business a great opportunity to showcase its latest products, services or just tell your followers the latest news about your business.
And don't forget to ensure there is a call to action at the end of every piece of material you post. Remember, Facebook is about interaction and not just the passive consumption of content.
Sell your products and services with F-commerce
The SYZYGY Group stated in their F-commerce report: "There are no cookie cutter recipes for setting up successful Facebook stores for your brand fans; F-commerce is too new and experimental for that. The best that brands can do is adopt a strategic approach to F-commerce, adopting something similar to the LEAD approach proposed by the Sloan Center for Internet Retailing."
The LEAD approach is designed to de-risk innovation in social media:
- LISTEN – First listen to your Facebook fans: Do they want a privileged and personal point of purchase on Facebook, and if so, what would they want to buy?
- EXPERIMENT – Limit initial investment to a small-scale fan-store and experiment with how you can use it to drive advocacy
- ADAPT – Adapt your fan-store into an outcome-driven solution based on fan feedback and on what drives advocacy in practice
- DEVELOP – Continuously develop your fan-store, improving the fan experience as new opportunities emerge
New ways to sell on Facebook
Selling products and services via your business' Facebook page is now easier than it has ever been. Vendors that offer e-commerce apps that can be easily integrated into your enterprises Facebook page including:
Even with F-commerce gaining momentum with each passing day, remember that your business' Facebook Pages are first and foremost a way to interact and engage with your customers.
Turning your Facebook Page into yet another online store is not advisable, as consumers understand the difference between e-commerce pages and their favourite social networks. Yes, they are open to some commercial messages, but tread carefully.