Larry BraunerPlease prepare yourself for a small dose of cynicism. Last week, a Facebook sales rep tried to persuade me to buy ads to drive traffic to the Gevril page, in order to increase its number of fans. Neither the rep’s rational nor the outcome of our talk are important for now. However, I do wish to look at the implications of this one aspect of the Facebook business.

The Dark Side of Facebook Ads

FacebookYou pay Facebook to drive people from unspecified Facebook pages to your fan page, hoping that once there, they’ll “like” your Facebook page. You also hope that you’ll benefit from building a Facebook fan base.

When a member clicks on your ad link and then clicks your “like” button, that activity is called engagement. Naturally, the more Facebook engagement, the more lively and profitable the Facebook site is for its owner.

Consider this: When you advertise your fan page using Facebook ads, you’re paying for the privilege of increasing Facebook activity. You’ll even bid against other advertisers for that privilege. Is that totally ingenious or what?

Is it any wonder that Facebook makes it so challenging for us to use our personal profiles to conduct business or to organically grow our business pages?

What do you think?

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Larry BraunerAll media have the tendency to become over-saturated with intrusive commercial messages. There are too many television and radio ads, too much junk email and snail mail, too many billboards, and yes, too many Facebook notifications. When overload occurs, messages are perceived as noise, and people filter them or tune them out.

The most common reaction of marketers is to raise the volume in one way or another. Marketers send more messages or create snazzier headlines. Raising the volume can help, but only for a short time. On Facebook, when the noise gets too loud, the top social networking site acts to tone it down or turn it off. Behavior that was once unrestricted becomes restricted.

As examples, we used to blanket our friends with invitations to Facebook events, but now Facebook forces us to be selective. We used to add friends haphazardly if we wished, but now Facebook deters us from adding people we don’t know. Raising the volume on Facebook isn’t a satisfactory option.

Inviting to Facebook Events

FacebookIn response to Facebook Page Events Rock,  readers asked for a Facebook page event how-to. I’m not ready to write a comprehensive guide. However, I offer you here ten tips for successfully inviting people to your Facebook events:

  1. Create a Facebook event that people in your niche will naturally desire to attend. Provide a clear explanation and instructions.
  2. Line up influential supporters to help you promote the event.
  3. Give yourself enough lead time before the event to invite people and clear up unforeseen problems that arise in the process.
  4. If you plan to invite your Facebook friends, categorize your friends beforehand using Facebook friend lists.
  5. Only invite friends from relevant lists. Be prepared, in any case, for a disappointing number of responses. Not only are people overloaded with event and other types of notifications, many are also confused by Facebook and don’t get that they should read all the particulars and click on I’m Attending if they wish to RSVP.
  6. Post the event or an article that you write about it on your business page, your personal profile and in Facebook groups catering to your niche.
  7. Post your Facebook event related links several times during the period before your event and even during your event. Just don’t overdo it and become obnoxious.
  8. Promote your event on your blog and on social media sites such as Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  9. If you have an email list, send one or more messages to your list inviting contacts to join you at the event. I like to use Green Wave Email Marketing, because they allow me to directly upload my contacts without requiring them to re-opt in.
  10. Last, but not least, send individual messages personally inviting Facebook friends to attend. No only does this work if done right, it can help build relationships.

The key isn’t raising the volume. The key is better targeting and better diversifying your contact methods.

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Comments are welcome. :-)

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Larry BraunerI love to experiment with SEO and social media strategies for small businesses. I’m ready to admit that many of my experiments are flops, but there’s no need to discuss those right now. ;-)

One of my successes, however, is with Facebook page events. These aren’t merely events created by Facebook pages, as you might think. Rather, they’re virtual events that take place entirely on the walls and in the discussion areas of Facebook pages. The objective of Facebook page events is to increase page membership and engagement.

My First Facebook Page Event

FacebookMy first such event, the 4+ Day Blog and Website Promotion Event and Social Media Party, took place January 2010 on my Facebook page in celebration of my 58th birthday. This Facebook event went viral and attracted well over 300 participants. As a result, I added many new fans and generated a momentum for my Facebook page that has continued even until today.

I have since organized other networking events on Facebook pages, including Books I’m Reading on the Purple Umpkin page and What I’m Grateful For on my Facebook page, that were modestly successful.

International Watch Fair on Facebook

POLICE Most Arresting Exhibit at BaselworldYou may recall that I wrote in My Social Media Mission Abroad about attending Baselworld 2011 in Switzerland earlier in the year. The Baselworld Watch and Jewelry Fair was the most marvelous business experience I have ever had, and I dare say for most other people in the trade, as well.

My Baselworld experience is the inspiration for my latest Facebook page event, the 4-Day International Watch Fair, taking place next week on the Gevril Group page. 76 people have already RSVP-ed “I’m Attending” as of this writing, and I wouldn’t be at all  surprised if attendance at this first of its kind event reached several hundred Facebook members.

You can create Facebook page events too but to achieve favorable results, I recommend that you or your client build a solid web presence — on and off Facebook — before giving this approach a try. Your web presence will help to fuel your Facebook page event.

Please subscribe and like my Facebook page.

Comments are welcome. :-)

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Larry BraunerAt times, Facebook users create multiple personal profiles for business purposes in violation of Facebook’s Terms of Service that clearly state:

“You will not create more than one personal profile.”

These Facebook users usually create one personal profile for family, friends and acquaintances, and another personal profile for business associates and prospects.

The word personal in “personal profile” is easily misunderstood and deserves clarification.

Personal Profile vs. Business Page

FacebookWith a Facebook “personal profile” you network and acquire friends. It doesn’t matter whether these friends are personal friends or business contacts.

A Facebook personal profile is a friend page, and Facebook prohibits creating more than one friend page for yourself.

With a Facebook business page you brand your business and attract people who “like” your page.

A Facebook business page is a fan page, and Facebook permits creating more than one fan page for your business, although that might not be practical.

If You Have More Than One Facebook Personal Profile

If you find yourself in the predicament of having more than one Facebook personal profile, my recommendation here in six steps is very similar to my advice in last week’s OMG! I Can’t Use My Facebook Personal Profile for Business:

  1. Create a Facebook business page as soon as possible. Either How to Create a Facebook Fan Page or How To Set Up a Facebook Fan Page can help you to get started. Let me know if you need my help.
  2. If you have no more than a few hundred business friends on the Facebook personal profile you’re using for business, send each of them a private message explaining your situation and inviting them to “like” your new Facebook page. If you have too many business friends for this to be feasible, limit the procedure to your most important business friends.
  3. To avoid raising red flags with Facebook, don’t send more than 20 to 30 messages per day, don’t fire off messages rapidly and don’t merely cut and paste an identical script.
  4. Don’t say or imply that you’ll be deleting friends or threaten to remove them if they don’t comply. Such an approach is likely to backfire. Be courteous and professional.
  5. Read Why Should I Like Your Facebook Page? and Top 10 Ways to Get Facebook Page Fans for ideas to market and grow your new Facebook page.
  6. When most of your business friends have migrated to your new fan page, delete the extra Facebook personal profile you were using for business and breathe a sigh of relief.

6/14/11 Update: Facebook now provides a tool to convert a Facebook profile to a Facebook business page.

Before you hurry off, please subscribe to my blog, “like” my Facebook page and leave me a comment.

Best of luck with your Facebook business page! :-)

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Larry BraunerIn my 7 Issues to Consider About Doing Business on Facebook and ONE Facebook Business Page, No More, No Fewer, I strongly advised not to use your Facebook personal profile for your business, advice that was echoed in Top 5 Things Not to Do on Facebook on HubSpot.

Feedback from some very concerned small business marketers using their Facebook profiles for their businesses led to this follow-up article to address their concerns.

FacebookSome have a Facebook personal profile for personal use and one or more Facebook personal profiles for business use, in violation of Facebook’s Terms of Service, which state that “you will not create more than one personal profile.”

I shall discuss this situation next week in You Say I Can’t Have More than One Facebook Personal Profile.

Tips for Businesses Using Facebook Personal Profiles

If you’re employing one Facebook profile page for both personal and business use (or for business use only), I offer you these eight tips:

  1. Don’t panic. For most users, the choice of how to market yourself and your business on Facebook isn’t really a life or death matter. (For the small minority of Facebook business users for whom this choice is a life or death matter, your panic is understandable. Seek professional or law enforcement assistance without further delay.)
  2. If you’re comfortable enough with the many limitations I set forth in ONE Facebook Business Page, No More, No Fewer, stop reading these tips right here and continue to do as you’ve been doing up until now. If and when you see the light, return here and keep reading.
  3. Create a Facebook business page. Either How to Create a Facebook Fan Page or How To Set Up a Facebook Fan Page can help you to get started.
  4. If you have no more than a few hundred business friends on your Facebook personal profile, send each a private message explaining the situation and inviting them to “like” your new Facebook page. If you have too many business friends for this to be feasible, limit the procedure to your most important business friends.
  5. To avoid raising red flags with Facebook, don’t send more than about 20 messages per day, don’t fire off messages rapidly and don’t merely cut and paste an identical script.
  6. Don’t say or imply that you’ll be deleting friends or threaten to remove them if they don’t comply. Such an approach is likely to backfire.
  7. Read Why Should I Like Your Facebook Page? and Top 10 Ways to Get Facebook Page Fans for ideas to market and grow your new Facebook page.
  8. Don’t remove business friends from your Facebook personal profile unless you have a security or privacy issue that compels you to do so, since removing friends can not be undone.

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Larry BraunerGenerally speaking, a business entity on Facebook needs a Facebook business page, one Facebook business page, no more, no fewer.

Many businesses are trying to reach out on Facebook using only a Facebook personal profile and no Facebook business page, while at the same time, many other businesses are trying to cultivate multiple Facebook business pages. Let’s consider both of these strategies to understand why either is problematic.

No Facebook Business Page

FacebookI presented several reasons for not using a Facebook personal profile in the place of a Facebook business page in 7 Issues to Consider About Doing Business on Facebook.

Here are 10 reasons to use a Facebook business page for business instead of a Facebook personal profile:

  1. Facebook members who wish to follow your business will typically feel less comfortable adding you as friend and opening their private lives to you than merely connecting with your Facebook business page by “liking” it.
  2. In addition, Facebook has created barriers to adding strangers as friends, as I explained in 3 Key Social Media and Web Marketing Strategies for 2011: Good-Bye Facebook Open Networking.
  3. Mixing business and pleasure on Facebook personal profiles is often complicated.
  4. Because of these limitations, Facebook personal profiles will not grow virally, but Facebook business pages might.
  5. Facebook personal profile friends are limited to 5,000, but there is no limit on the number of Facebook business page fans.
  6. Facebook business-page content can be indexed by the search engines, but Facebook personal-profile content cannot. Facebook business pages can make use of search engines and SEO.
  7. There can be multiple Facebook business page administrators, and their identities will be shielded from visitors and fans. This feature offers Facebook business page administrators flexibility and some degree of privacy.
  8. Facebook business pages support applications and tabs. Personal page application tabs have gone away.
  9. Facebook business page administrators can send updates to fans. Some, not all, of the fans will actually read them, but this feature still has value.
  10. Facebook business pages come equipped by Facebook with a set of analytic tools called Facebook Insights.

Multiple Facebook Business Pages

Want more than one Facebook business page for your business? Build and grow your first Facebook business page successfully. Then, if you still want, we can discuss having multiple Facebook business pages together. ;-)

Now please, “like” my Facebook business page, subscribe to my blog and leave me a comment.

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Larry BraunerI assert in Why Should I Like Your Facebook Page? that until 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, if at all.

I’m ready to assume that your Facebook page already offers a lot of useful information, a way to subscribe to your web content, online customer service, news about events, contests, juicy gossip, entertainment or other perceived benefits that make it worthwhile for people to follow.

How Do I Get Fans for My Facebook Page?

FacebookNow, you’re looking to get fans for your Facebook page.

Perhaps you don’t yet have a strong web presence, and you’re trying to grow your Facebook fan base from scratch.  Your Facebook page deserves fans, and you’re asking yourself, “How can I attract people who’ll ‘like’ my page and become my page’s fans?”

There are lots of ways to get Facebook page fans, including Facebook ads, which I do not like. I’m sharing with you methods that can help you easily grow your small business or solo entrepreneur Facebook page fan base, in the hope that you can succeed without making the Facebook page building process more difficult or complex than it needs to be.

My Top Ways to Get Facebook Page Fans

These are the top ten ways that I’ve grown my Facebook page fans:

  1. Feather Your Nest - Ask 25 close friends or family members to help you reach the 25 Facebook page fans you need to obtain your custom Facebook page name, helping your page appeal to prospective fans.
  2. Your Facebook Friends - If you have few Facebook friends, ask each individually to “like” your Facebook fan page. Tell them that you’d love for them to join you there. If you have hundreds or thousands of friends, you can use the “Suggest to Friends” option to invite them. Be sure to add a personal message in the invite. Many people ignore Facebook page invites, so don’t expect more than 5% to 10% rate of acceptance.
  3. Your Email Lists - If you have email lists, invite contacts to visit and “like” your Facebook fan page. Be personal and friendly in your message. Use Edit Page >> Marketing >> Tell Your Fans. Don’t spam.
  4. Everyone You Meet - Tell everybody. Put your Facebook page link and Twitter handle on your business cards and in the signature of your emails.
  5. Link to Your Page - Link to your Facebook page rather than your Facebook profile from all the social networking sites you join and from your blog site or other website.
  6. Blogging About Your Page - Use your Facebook fan page to promote your blog, but make sure that you also use your blog to promote your Facebook page. At the end of posts, ask readers to subscribe to your blog and to “like” your Facebook page.
  7. Ask Your Friends to Help - I’ve asked some of my Facebook friends to suggest my Facebook page to their Facebook friends along with a message of recommendation. If you try this approach, you may find it to be highly effective, just as I have.
  8. Fan Page Events - I’ve added hundreds of Facebook page fans by holding events on my Facebook page. 4+ Day Blog and Website Promotion Event and Social Media Party and Facebook Fan Page Event Going Viral and Attracting Hundreds Already describe my most successful Facebook event.
  9. Facebook Widgets - I have a Facebook fan page widget on each of my websites, making it easy for site visitors to “like” my Facebook page and stay in touch.
  10. Engage Your Facebook Fans - Your posts must be made visible to your Facebook page fans. Read How Facebook EdgeRank Affects Your Visibility. Engage your fans, primarily by asking questions. When your fans comment on your status or “like” it, they’re sharing it with their Facebook friends.

Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day, Nor Was My Facebook Page

Accept reality. It will take time to get a large number of Facebook page fans, but if you add just three new Facebook page fans per day, you’ll have 1,000 fans in less than a year. By adding five to six Facebook page fans per day on average, I was able to add 2,000 new fans in the past year. You can do it too!

New blog subscribers and Facebook fans are welcome — and if you think that others might benefit from advice for getting Facebook page fans, please share this article with them. ;-)

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Larry BraunerI once heard the following joke:

Q - How do you get rich online?
A - First you get rich; then you go online.

Now, I’ll re-purpose this joke for Facebook.

Q - How do you get lots of fans for your Facebook page?
A - First you get lots of fans; then you get your fans to “like” your Facebook page.

FacebookUnfortunately, these silly jokes are only partially jest. There’s truth in both of them. Getting rich online or creating a Facebook fan base from scratch are both very difficult objectives to accomplish.

Creating a Facebook fan base from scratch is precisely what bullet #6 was alluding to in 7 Issues to Consider About Doing Business on Facebook:

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.”

Large businesses come to Facebook with lots of people who are already loyal to their brands and lots of traffic to their websites. Once their fans “like” their Facebook pages, critical mass is achieved, and their Facebook pages grow exponentially, virally attracting new fans.

If you’re finding it difficult to grow your Facebook fan base from scratch, become neither alarmed nor discouraged. It is difficult but achievable. In an upcoming article, I’ll provide you with a few ideas that may help you create your fan base, even out of thin air.

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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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