In the never ending quest of businesses and organizations to build traffic to their web site, and in turn, hopefully increase revenue, many are increasingly expanding their promotion to social networking and 2.0 sites.  Everyone has heard of MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.  In fact, they have become so entrenched in the fabric of our culture that references are made to them in TV and movies and even the most staid of traditional media, newspapers, have capitulated to the online tsunami by feeding their news stories to Twitter and Facebook accounts.

The majority of the Westernized world knows what Facebook is.  The majority of businesses believe that they need to utilize it in some way.  This belief is true.  As a matter of fact, in March of 2010 Facebook surpassed Google in number of weekly pageviews.  Considering that Google still makes up 65 percent of total search traffic, this is something that every business that has customers that use the internet should take note of.

Social media in general and Facebook specifically have seen a huge growth in usage just in the past year.  Being competitive online is not just a matter of ranking organically in one or two search engines anymore.  As the internet expands and becomes ever more niched, it also increases the number of online fronts a business has to participate in and compete on.

Facebook is one of those major players.

However, even though most small business owners know they should be on Facebook, there is still a lot of confusion on how to use it.  Below are a few basic principles for businesses using Facebook.

Take Care of Your Own House First

Before you worry about which social media sites to participate in, you should always make sure that your own business web site is squared away first.

If you have an old static site that hasn’t seen an update in this millenium, addressing this should be your first order of business.

You should have a strategy for your site, know your optimal target keywords and have landing pages for each before you run around on multiple 2.0 web sites throwing your business information out there.

Your site should be the focal point for all of your online efforts, not some minor page on a mega social network.  When you create profiles on other sites, the goal should be to direct them to your business site and to funnel them into your lead generation system.

Never, ever put yourself in a position where you are relying on income and leads generated on a platform that you don’t have control of.  Keep in mind that you don’t have a right to those profiles and pages.  At any time, your account could be shut down or deleted and then where would you be?

Every other online hub that you make should be viewed as a support for your own site.

Direct them to your site and get them on your list.

That should be the goal.  And if you don’t have a list . . . well that is something else we need to talk about.

Accounts are for People.  Pages are for Businesses

Facebook accounts are for people, not organizations or businesses.  Every week I get “friend” requests from organizations and businesses.  I am not friends with the business, I am friends with the person that owns it.

A person can create Facebook pages for any number of businesses, organizations or web sites.  For example, I have set up Facebook pages for Legacy Marketing, my daughter’s blog (I see I need to teach her how to use spell check 🙁 ), and the Picnic on the Park event.

Each of these pages has their own set of fans, integrated RSS feeds, and settings.

One of the benefits of using pages for businesses and organizations (besides the fact that that is what they are designed for) is that you can add other people as administrators to the page.  Whereas if you set up your business as a Facebook account, the only way you will be able to have someone update it is by giving them full access to that account itself, which isn’t a good thing to do for security reasons.

Also, you can’t promote your Facebook account with those cool Facebook widgets like you can with pages.

Facebook is Not the Be All to End All

I know this may sound like heresy to Facebook fanatics, but this is the truth.  The amount of potential Facebook has for your  business really depends on the type of business you do and who your audience is.  As I mentioned in a LinkedIn discussion yesterday, I have clients who get their best targeted traffic from Facebook.  I also have clients with sites that get most of their referral traffic from Twitter.  My site gets good traffic from LinkedIn.

You just have to find out where your potential customers are and focus on those platforms.

Increase Your Efficiency by Integrating Your Web Site and Profiles

Sometimes when I talk to people about using social media, I can see that they find it overwhelming because they think it is going to be just one more thing on their To Do list.

It doesn’t have to be an extra effort.  Your web site and social media profiles can be integrated so that any update to your web site will automatically be posted on your social media platform.  Assuming you have taken care of item #1 and have a web site on a modern CMS platform, it is just a matter of connecting your RSS feeds.

I cover the specific steps to do this in my free report “10 Steps to Success with WordPress.”  If you aren’t on WordPress, but are on a platform like Joomla, Drupal, ExpressionEngine, etc., you can still accomplish the same results, the specific steps will just be a little bit different.

Whatever online marketing steps you take, always look for a way to maximize your exposure and streamline the process.  Another example of this is Aweber’s feature of publishing notification of your email broadcasts to your social media sites that I explained in a previous post.

While today’s online landscape requires small businesses to become increasingly adept at promoting their business on a variety of platforms, a focused strategy and marketing plan can yield maximum results with a minimum of effort.  If you need help streamlining your promotion efforts, contact us.

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