If you’ve ever taken Facebook for a spin, you know the premise is pretty simple.

At the top of the screen there’s a question – “What’s on your mind?” – and you type something into the box. On personal profiles, these posts are most often the mundane details of people’s lives: what they are doing, where they are going, links to their favorite music videos or photos and even random posts that seem to be “inside jokes” that a limited number of readers will understand. There are snippets of song lyrics, inspirational quotes, political rants, snarky comments and the infamous game-playing (Farmville, anyone?). This is where a lot of people’s understanding of Facebook starts and ends, so as a social media strategist, the question I find myself answering most often is, “Why should my business be on Facebook?”

A Facebook business page is (or should be) a lot different than a personal profile. And your business needs to be there because it’s where your competitors and your target market are hanging out – and they spend a lot of time there! It’s the online cocktail party invitation you MUST accept, if you want your business “to see and be seen”!

Building relationships has always been the foundation of business success.

And it used to be fairly straightforward: You’d meet a prospect in person – either at your place of business, at a business function or maybe even your child’s ballgame. You’d give him your business card, you’d get his phone number, and you’d follow up the next day. Subsequent meetings would be held, lunches and dinners and other outings would be hosted and the two of you would spend time not only discussing the business proposition at hand but getting to know one another on a more personal level, as well. And this held true pretty much whether the relationship you were building was with a prospective customer, vendor, banker or joint venture partner.

Today’s challenge is how to create those same types of relationships with individuals you may never meet face to face – before, during or after the ultimate transaction.

Regardless of your business, many of your prospects and customers are likely already among Facebook’s 750 million+ active users, which is why over one million businesses have Facebook business pages. So you definitely don’t want to be the only one not at the cocktail party.

So … you know you need to set up a business page and you know to keep the silly stuff on your personal profile. But now what? Here are four basics that every Facebook page owner should know going in:

What to post

This is simple, but not necessarily easy. Ask yourself: What is my intended audience interested in learning about? What are their interests outside of business? What problems, concerns and worries do they have? What will enlighten them, delight them and make them want to share my content with their network, both on and off Facebook?

A recent study by Dan Zarrella, social media “scientist” at HubSpot, indicates posts on the following five topics are “most shared” among Facebook users: sex, positivity, learning, media, work – in that order. I’d recommend you stay away from the first one (remember: the study was of all Facebook content, not just content shared among businesspeople). But positive, informative, interactive – all good posts – whether they are work-related or not. When you do post work-related content, be sure it increases your stature as a trusted resource – the go-to person for industry insights – and not the Facebook equivalent of an infomercial for your product or service.

What not to post

If you remember nothing else about this article after you finish reading, remember this: Social media is not a sales pitch. If your posts are focused on selling your product or service, you are doomed. You will not even get this effort off the ground. The intent of social media is not the same as print or broadcast advertising or direct mail. People do not go on social media sites to subject themselves to sales pitches. If that’s what people wanted, surely someone would have invented the “All Commercials, All the Time” TV network.

How often to post

The same HubSpot study found that the most successful Facebook business pages post, on average, every other day (3-4 times per week). Having said that, however, if you have something to share with your audience that is time sensitive and fits into your overall objective for being on Facebook in the first place, it behooves you to try to get it in front of them, even if you just posted something else an hour ago. Just be aware that the best way to lose the followers you worked so hard to get is to constantly abuse them with multiple posts. Again, strategy needs to play a role in your online behavior and practices.

What time of day to post

Many schools of thought, but here’s my take: think about how your intended audience spends their day. For example, if you’re a B2B company trying to reach trial attorneys, don’t bother posting when they’re likely to be in the office or in court concentrating on billable hours! When are they likely to be online? Keep in mind that your posts drop down and eventually “fall off” the first page of their News Feeds as newer posts come in, making yours harder to find.

These, of course, are tactics, and the bottom line is that there needs to be an overall strategy to how you spend your time at the “party.” Since we’re out of space here, come on over to my Facebook page where we can discuss strategy, have a virtual cocktail and get to know one another!

 

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