Three Ways to Make Facebook Work for Your Small Business   logo50wd&B.jpg

I've always felt that social media is most powerful when combined with the things you're already doing - like networking, sharing, and meeting with clients face to face.

The thing that makes social network platforms so powerful when viewed in this manner is that they change the conversation from "should I be on Facebook?" to "how can I use Facebook to better meet my already stated objectives?" And that's the true power of social media.

Instead of thinking about how to use Facebook, think about how to integrate Facebook to get more from the marketing you're already doing.

Below are three integration approaches that most small businesses should consider in an effort to make the most out of time they spend on Facebook.

Facebook Groups

From a business standpoint Facebook has a filtering problem. If you share something on Facebook it's shared with Aunt Susie just as surely as it is with your best client. The problem is that Aunt Susie finds your latest information on industry trends completely boring, and your client finds the cute picture of your cat, well, strange at best.

So, Facebook created its Groups feature so you can segment your friends and followers, and tailor your shared content to fit each group's interests.

Every small business should create groups like clients, prospects, and partners as a way to filter and personalize Facebook sharing for each group.

Here's how you create a group:

  1. Go to the Facebook groups page and create a group.
  2. Name your group and assign it an email address (grab them now, as the email names are first-come first-serve). After you set up the group hit "Edit Group" to select an email.
  3. Select your privacy settings. You probably want to keep what goes on in the group private, but keep in mind that any of your friends will be able to see who is in a group.

The "Like" Button

The Like Button is the way people become fans of Facebook pages and how they tell their friends and fans about content they like. You'll find it appears as a standard feature on all business pages.

Every site owner should use the tools Facebook provides to add the Like button to all of their Web pages and blog posts. This way any visitor to your pages can claim to Like your pages, effectively telling all of their followers about your page while providing a link back to it.

The Like button is pretty much standard fare for today's social Web.

How to add the Like Button:

  1. You can produce the HTML code for any webpage you can edit from the Facebook Developer's Social Plug In Tool. Simply add the URL to the specific page you want to create the code for, edit the settings for width and style, and hit "get code."
  2. Copy the code and paste it anywhere on your Web page where you want it to show, and presto -- people can "like" your page.

I suggest doing this for any Web pages where you have content, products, reviews, service descriptions, or anything else people might choose to share with their Facebook fans.

The "Send" Button

The newest addition to the Facebook plugin lineup is something called the Send Button. The Send Button is another step in the filtering direction. This button functions similarly to the Like Button except that it gives the user the option to choose whom they would like to share their action with.

So, instead of simply adding a "Like" for all to see, you can select a handful of followers with whom you want to share the content. This button works really well in conjunction with the Groups function. Now when you find something online that your family will think is awesome, you simply hit the Send Button and choose your Family Group.

The good news for those that have already installed the Like code on their pages is that you can install the Send button side by side with the Like button by simply adding the Send attribute to your existing XFBML code. (send="true")

One of the fastest ways to make Facebook pay off is to give your regular website and blog visitors lots of ways to share your content and help build your network.

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant and author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.

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