Larry BraunerAs an entrepreneur or small business owner promoting your business on Facebook, you face a number of difficult challenges and tough marketing decisions.

Here are seven key issues to consider when networking and marketing your business on Facebook:

  1. Facebook profile pages are intended for networking with family and friends and not for business networking, and you can’t separate your personal and business networking on Facebook. Your family and personal friends are being irritated by business posts showing up in their News Feeds, while at the same time business connections are eavesdropping on your personal conversations.
  2. By connecting directly with business associates and total strangers on Facebook, you compromise the privacy of your family and friends, which is already much too limited. Your loved ones become “friends of friends” with your business connections and consequently more exposed to their scrutiny. If you’ll decline the invitations of family and personal friends to connect in order to protect them, you’ll surely have an enormous amount of explaining to do.
  3. You can’t legitimately set up a profile for personal use and one for business. Having multiple Facebook profiles is against Facebook’s Terms of Service. I haven’t done so, and I do not recommend that you do so either, unless you’re ready to risk deletion of both your Facebook profiles.
  4. Lack of privacy extends far beyond family and personal friends. Each of your business connections become “friends of friends” with all your other Facebook business connections and therefore more exposed and at-risk — something most Facebook users do not realize. This explains why Facebook business networking is suspect, and why Facebook demands that you connect only with people you know.
  5. If you aggressively grow your business network on Facebook, you risk having your Facebook account suspended. Proceed carefully.
  6. Facebook fan pages are more useful for marketing large businesses than small ones, since they won’t help to build your web presence unless, to some degree, you already have a web presence. Haven’t you noticed how many Facebook business pages barely have the 25 fans needed to claim their Facebook name? Business networking on Facebook is a way to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” but it’s also problematic and at best a slow process. A big businesses also has the marketing budget to create compelling Facebook applications.
  7. Twitter, Ning networks and search engine optimized blog sites are better for building your web presence than Facebook. Once you have a web presence, you can easily grow your Facebook page fan base with well-placed Facebook widgets and links. The main point is that you’ll need to reach far beyond Facebook to develop a following for your business, the kind of following that big brands already have.

FacebookIn the future, I’ll continue to explore ways in which businesses can build their web presences on and off Facebook, but for now, keep in mind that “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Or in a week or in a month.

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Larry BraunerI predicted in How Facebook Pages Will Help Facebook Dominate the Internet that before long, every business would want a Facebook page, and my prediction is coming true. I receive invites daily to “like” new Facebook pages.

Before even creating your Facebook fan page, you need to ask yourself why anyone should:

  • Like your Facebook page
  • Remain a fan of your Facebook page
  • Interact with your Facebook page
  • Recommend your Facebook page

What’s in It for Your Facebook Fans?

FacebookUntil you determine “what’s in it” for your Facebook page’s fans, you’re not ready to launch your Facebook page. You’ll only succeed by accident.

Perhaps you can provide useful info, customer service, events, prizes, gossip or entertainment.

In any case, there must be something in it for your Facebook fans, and you must continually create value for them to remain loyal to your page.

Connecting with Your Facebook Fans

On my Facebook page, I start discussions, share content, provoke thought, host networking events, and acknowledge people.

My fans and I are connected. We have a relationship.

When I post on my clients’ pages, I identify myself, so that their fans will connect with me as a person. Making personal connections is what social media is about, even on Facebook pages for businesses.

Facebook Page and Social Media Success Formula

My two basic success principles for Facebook pages, what’s in it for them and connecting on a personal level, apply equally to blogs, Twitter and all social media.

Whether it’s fans, subscribers or followers you want, always ask yourself, “What’s in it for them?” Then you can create the Facebook pages and web presence your heart desires.

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Larry BraunerNetworkedBlogs is a Facebook application, which syndicates blog content and networks blogs to help them gain followers and readership on Facebook.

What blogger would not want to tap into Facebook, the networking giant, to grow his or her blog? That was the allure of NetworkedBlogs for me.

NetworkedBlogs Facebook ApplicationNetworkedBlogs has simplified my Facebook syndication to a small extent. However, despite building a large presence on NetworkedBlogs, integrating my blog with Facebook in this manner has resulted in few new readers.

Here are seven reasons for my disappointment with the NetworkedBlogs Facebook application:

  1. Many of my NetworkedBlogs followers are following my blog only because the NetworkedBlogs application asked them to do so at the time they followed another blogger’s blog covering the same topics. They have little interest in reading my blog.
  2. Only a small percentage of users visit the NetworkedBlogs Home Page regularly or at all to see their NetworkedBlogs News Feed. Many users don’t even realize the importance of the NetworkedBlogs Home Page. NetworkedBlogs needs better instruct users, so that users will get more out of this potentially useful Facebook application.
  3. I, like most bloggers, post at most a few articles per week. However, the top blogs on NetworkedBlogs are group blogs with many articles per day, thereby dominating the News Feed on the NetworkedBlogs Home Page. NetworkedBlogs needs to adjust its algorithm to compensate for the disproportionate number of articles generated by group blogs.
  4. Moreover, on the NetworkedBlogs Home Page, the News Feed is not sequential. Instead, it gives the highest-rated blogs priority, just as the Facebook News Feed gives priority to the most relevant posts, based upon each post’s Facebook EdgeRank. Because most people follow top blogs on NetworkedBlogs, they’ll infrequently be shown less popular blogs. Networked blogs needs to modify its algorithm to display a greater number of lower-rated blog posts.
  5. People tend to follow many blogs they have little interest in reading. This too diminishes the usefulness of the NetworkedBlogs News Feed and its perceived importance, as well.
  6. Facebook greatly limits that which the NetworkedBlogs application can do on our behalf. NetworkedBlogs cannot create user notifications as it had been able to in the past. Therefore, NetworkedBlogs needs to be extra creative in order to increase user engagement with the application and its content.
  7. NetworkedBlogs users, including myself, aren’t proactive enough to compensate for the shortcomings of the NetworkedBlogs Facebook application. How we can use NetworkedBlogs more proactively and productively will be the subject of a future article, which I plan to call The NetworkedBlogs Challenge.

Before you comment on this post, please “like” my Facebook page and follow me on NetworkedBlogs. ;-)

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Larry BraunerHave you seen the notice on Facebook yet? Facebook is getting ready to remove all application tabs from your Profile page, including the NetworkedBlogs application Blog tab.

I speculated when Facebook removed applications from the sidebar that they’d use the freed-up space for something else.

FacebookPerhaps, Facebook does want to free up the sidebar and tabs for other uses.

However, I’ve observed a trend recently that’s more far reaching and more fundamental to Facebook’s success.

Facebook Aiming to Increase Member Engagement

Engagement, i.e., member activity and interaction, is the lifeblood of social media sites. Engagement keeps a social media site humming, and it creates revenue from advertising and other fees. The Facebook changes are being orchestrated to increase member engagement on their site.

How so? Could removing applications from Facebook Profile page actually help rather than hurt member engagement?

Yup. It could.

Your Facebook Home Page

Facebook is removing applications from your Profile page but adding them to the sidebar of your Home page. They’re already listed there, right below the list of your new Facebook groups. Facebook is turning your Home page sidebar into your Facebook navigation pane.

Why go to the trouble of rearranging the Facebook interface? I can think of two good reasons:

  1. It’s simpler - From your Facebook Home page you can navigate to many of the other pages you care about.
  2. Greater engagement - More importantly, we’re too focused on our Profile and business pages. Therefore, Facebook is gently shepherding us to our Home pages where we’ll find our News Feeds, and we’ll view content posted by the friends and Facebook pages we follow. That will, in turn, increase our engagement.

Typically, the most important page of a social media site is its home page. The home pages of Facebook and other social sites are designed to engage you with fellow members and their content.

Facebook application tabs are going away, but not the Facebook applications themselves. They’re now on your Home page, and Facebook want you to be there too.

I’m sure you’re in a hurry to comment on my post, but before you do, please “like” my Facebook page and subscribe to my blog. ;-)

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Larry BraunerLittle by little, Facebook members are discovering the dark side of the new Facebook groups.

In The Problem with Facebook Groups, I complain that old Facebook Groups lack member engagement. Members aren’t notified when content is added to the group and only learn of new posts or comments if by chance they visit the group’s page or if a moderator broadcasts a message to them.

Problems with New Facebook Groups

FacebookThe new Facebook groups have the opposite problem. By default, a member is notified every time another member posts. If the new Facebook group is large, members will be bombarded with unwanted email notifications and chat window popups. The engagement problem is solved, but a new notification problem is created.

Users who are bothered by the quantity of email notifications can change their notification setting to “only posts I am subscribed to” and reduce or eliminate the notification problem –  once they figure out how to do so.

However, there’s a bigger problem not yet mentioned: One can be added by Facebook friends to new Facebook groups without pre-approval. Therefore, before one knows what’s happening, and before one can leave the group or change one’s notification setting, emails start flowing into his or her inbox, seemingly out of nowhere. Sounds like fiction, but I’m not making this up!

Marketing vs. Collaboration

These problems render the new Facebook groups, as currently formulated, totally unsuitable for Facebook marketing.

On the other hand, new Facebook groups work very well for collaboration, especially with their group document creation and editing capability.

New Facebook Group for GroupGain Collaboration

GroupGainI’m working closely with a team of interns promoting GroupGain, a social networking site for group buying with a unique twist that’s launching soon. We have a new Facebook group that’s tiny, has just nine members, and each of us knew in advance that we’d be added to the group. As a result, there haven’t been any problems associated with our new Facebook group.

More Information about New Facebook Groups

I suggest you read Facebook Groups – A Walkthrough of Group Email, Docs, Chat, and More for the new Facebook groups basics, and Facebook Groups Spam and The Notifications Dilemma, as well. Both pieces are featured on Inside Facebook.

New Facebook Groups Verdict

If the new Facebook groups would require members to opt-in, not opt-out, members wouldn’t be taken as much by surprise. Until Facebook makes some adjustments, I give the new Facebook groups a thumbs-up for group collaboration (or small-scale networks) and a thumbs-down for marketing (and large-scale networks).

Having been forewarned, you my join my new Facebook group if you dare:

Larry Brauner’s Group

Have a new Facebook groups war story to share with us?

Please “like” my Facebook page and subscribe to my blog. :)

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Larry BraunerThe Website Promotion Event on my Facebook page celebrating my birthday back in January was a successful networking event that went viral and attracted hundreds. Many people made important new connections during the January networking event.

What I’m Grateful For Networking Event

What I'm Grateful For Networking EventConsequently, I’m launching a series of themed networking events starting with What I’m Grateful For, this coming Wednesday the 13th on my Facebook page. Visit the event page to RSVP.

Books I’m Reading Networking Event

Books I'm Reading Networking EventRegistration is also open for Books I’m Reading, the following Wednesday, October 20th on the new Purple Umpkin Facebook page.

Future Networking Events

Networking Events on FacebookI’m planning additional networking events in this series, not only on my Facebook page and Purple Umpkin, but also on Business Structuring Diva, Proud Of My Mom, Real Estate Events and other Facebook pages.

Future networking events will be listed on the News tab of my Facebook business page and elsewhere.

Feel free to make suggestions for networking events by commenting on this article.

Promoting the Networking Events

The easiest ways to spread the word about these networking events if you care to are:

Join us at upcoming networking events, and if you’re new to my blog, please subscribe.

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Larry BraunerFacebook custom tabs are mini web pages within Facebook business pages that can be programmed, somewhat like one would program a regular website. You can use custom tabs to provide information, brand your business page or invite new visitors to “like” your Facebook business page.

Facebook Custom Tabs

Major brands, such as Coke and Macy’s, sport elegant Facebook pages and custom tabs that are visually coordinated with their corporate branding. There’s very little that’s generic about their Facebook pages. However, you have the option of creating your Facebook page and custom tabs on a modest budget, much as I’ve been doing.

My quite primitive but useful custom About tab offers information about me and at the same time functions as a landing page for new visitors.

Facebook Custom Tabs Using FBML

FacebookI created my custom tab using a Facebook application called Static FBML, i.e., Static Facebook Markup Language.

As indicated in Facebook Changes Are a Pane for Many, Facebook will phase out Static FBML but, as of this moment, you can still create your custom tabs using Static FBML, and Facebook will “grandfather” your custom tabs in. The newer method for creating custom tabs may be more difficult to use than the present one.

The Static FBML application works fine using very basic HTML. If you know a little HTML, you’re ready to create custom tabs — as long as you already have your own Facebook page. If you don’t know any HTML, you should seek help.

Go to the Static FBML application and create several new blank custom FBML tabs while you still can. ;-)

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