How to Market Your Business on Facebook

This may be a heretical thing to say but I don’t believe Facebook marketing works. Okay, just so I don’t draw the ire of social media experts everywhere, I will qualify that statement. I don’t believe Facebook marketing works the way most people think. Let me s’plain.

Unless you’ve got a huge fan following like Hall & Oates (Did I just date myself?), most business-related status updates don’t really get that much attention. Like paid ads, we’ve learned to ignore them. UNLESS the post is entertaining, provocative or useful to the reader. I see lots of experts post updates on Facebook about their latest speaking engagements or any PR that they scored. But does anyone really read them? I rarely do and I suspect most people are the same.

So can Facebook be used for business marketing at all? Well yes and no. While it probably doesn’t hurt to talk a little bit about your business on FB, I think there’s a better use for it in relation to marketing. I call it “Facebook Networking.”

I’ve said it time and time again, business is all about relationships, so why not use Facebook to cultivate them? I am a Social Media Butterfly. As long as I remember meeting you, I will confirm your FB friend request. (And sometimes even if I don’t remember someone, but their picture is incredibly hot, I will be their friend anyway.) Why do I do this? Because I want to get to know people and I want them to get to know me. In my last blog post, I talked about the “Power of Options.” Well this is sort of an extension of that. The more people I know on FB, the more relationships I can cultivate. And the bigger my network and potential pool of business and resources.

Building and cultivating relationships is all about keeping in touch, getting to know each other better and finding commonalities. In the old days, you had to do it in person or on the phone. But now, you can do it virtually! How cool is it that you can now get to know a person’s family, hobbies, activities and (most embarassing of all) musical preferences, all online? Is it an invasion of privacy? Not if they’re uploading things on the World Wide Web! And let’s face it – if your FB friends are posting pictures and status updates, then they obviously want you to see them. They want you to get to know them, connect with them and reaffirm them. It’s human nature!

The flip side of this is that people get to know you as well. And that’s the secret ingredient. People don’t want to do business with “companies.” They want to do business with PEOPLE. People they like. And the only way they will have the opportunity to like you is if they get to know YOU personally.

Now I’m not advocating that everyone “fake” being friendly to people on FB. You can limit yourself to friending people you genuinely like (which makes for stronger relationships anyway). Luckily for me, I’m a natural extrovert and love learning more about folks. And I just love being able to post witty comments on people’s walls.

Another good thing to do is be helpful and giving if people need recommendations, advise, or just a little empathy. We all could use a little of that. Especially New Yorkers.

So yes! Have a seperate FB page for your business (so that people who are curious can see what you do). But also focus on leveraging your personality and be a friend who keeps in touch, is helpful and wants to grow the relationship.

The other day, I was on the bus and someone whom I had met only twice before sat down next to me but we knew (sort of) what was basically going on with each other’s lives (through Facebook). How’s that for virtually strengthening the friendship?

People ask me all the time, if I’ve gotten any business from Facebook. And my answer is “No, I haven’t gotten any business from FB. But I have built friendships on Facebook and they’ve given me business.” See the difference?

So feel free to “Facebook friend” me at http://www.facebook.com/ramonsgil. Just please don’t hold the whole “Hall & Oates” thing against me.