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What's New in Technology for March 2012

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Technology: Marketing the Facebook Way

Like it or loathe it, Facebook has more than 800 million users and might be one of the easiest, least expensive ways to connect to customers. You don’t have to be an avid Facebook follower to recognize the spectacular impact social media has had on the way we communicate with each other. Its effect on marketing has been no less dramatic.

There are two key ways to use Facebook to market your business and/or your products – either through Facebook pages or Facebook groups. To market goods or services using Facebook, you must first have a regular Facebook account. You will then be able to link your Facebook page or group to your website.

Facebook Page

Think of a Facebook page as a Facebook profile for a business. You have fans rather than friends and have the opportunity to like or comment on your postings. They don’t have the freedom to post their news to your wall, but – and this is the real marketing plus – your Facebook page updates (concerning your business) will appear as status updates on their Facebook profile. Once your marketing updates are on your fans’ profile pages, they can be seen by all of their Facebook friends. It’s not hard to see how this fan networking gives you remarkable reach. It’s a one-sided communication flow – if you care to think of it that way – that works in your favor and requires only a little of your time and effort.

To set up a Facebook page, go to http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php to find various options designed to suit different companies. You can choose among categories such as Local Business, Company or Product to feature on your page. You can keep your design options simple and, in most cases, the minimum setup includes basic information about your company, a logo, photos and invitations to fans. As soon as your Facebook page is operational, create a two-way link to your website. Facebook has plug-ins you can add to your website so visitors link directly to your Facebook page. A like button on your website pages lets your fans share their support and your web address on their personal Facebook profiles. Once you get started, the sky is the limit – but don’t overwhelm fans with commercial messages. Use your Facebook page judiciously: to garner customer opinions, offer special deals and communicate with existing and potential clients.

Facebook Group  

Setting up a Group is as easy as visiting http://www.facebook.com/groups and following the instructions. You decide who will be added as a member to your Facebook group. There are various settings that determine how you restrict access to the group page. A Facebook group might be something to use to provide added value to customers in the form of informational updates, shared documents or a benefit you offer to frequent customers. It is also useful for not-for-profit groups to share photos and documents or to plan and host discussions. Someone has to act as administrator, and a Facebook group requires management and maintenance. Most marketers with an eye on wide-scale customer communication opt for Facebook pages.

You don’t have to spend your days texting, tweeting or following your friends on the site, but making Facebook part of your marketing effort might be a trend worth following.

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