A Facebook Future

A Facebook Future 

Things are changing rapidly in the world of marketing these days. Despite what I thought just a couple of years ago, my feeling now is Facebook is almost as essential as a good website. But a thought keeps rattling around in my head: Isn’t Facebook what you hoped your website was going to be?

You know, a place people would bookmark (remember bookmarks?) and stop in and visit with you and your website. You spent tons of time, money and energy trying to create a way that your customers could interact with you and your other customers (remember chat rooms?). You might even encourage them to comment on a post, send you a picture or sign up for your e-mail newsletter. Remember?
Isn’t that what a good Facebook page is supposed to do? The tough question now is this: Are you going to be any better on Facebook than you have been with your website?

Your website and a Facebook page (your business page) both require – you guessed it – time, money and energy. Facebook is free, but free is just another word for valuing your time less than money; and you are going to waste both your time and money if you don’t have a plan.

We recommend our clients put together an editorial and promotional calendar for the month, the quarter and the year. What are you going to be promoting when? Please note that I said “editorial” as well as “promotional” calendar. Let’s face it; if you have nothing interesting to say, all you are doing is blasting more ads.

The content you put on Facebook has to be a blend of information, inspiration and incentive. All the stuff we told you about composing a good e-mail newsletter is true for your Facebook posts. I recently saw another good way to frame it: the “Old McDonald” method for creating content.

E–Entertain
I–Inspire
E–Educate
I–Inform
O–Outrage

A good Facebook page, and we’re assuming we’re talking about a business page here, is a place where you share a laugh, learn something you didn’t know and see something worth sharing with a friend. That’s how it is supposed to work.

Tools You Need To Know

Let’s take a fresh look at your Facebook page and your website and see how one can improve the other.

Design on Facebook. Facebook is known for its uniformity. You can post all sorts of content, but the actual design and layout of your profile is the same as everyone else’s. But with Facebook fan pages and the array of apps you can plug into them, there are a few ways you can customize what people see when they land on your page.

Check out the landing pages for Best Buy, Gap, and Red Bull. When you land there, you start on what is essentially a mini website within Facebook, instead of the standard wall or newsfeed. These apps are often used to promote deals, call attention to new products, or simply welcome visitors with an attractive branded splash page.

Custom usernames for Facebook page. The URL for your Facebook page doesn’t have to be a random-looking series of digits. You can register for a custom username to easily promote your presence on Facebook with a short URL, for example:

This username can be used in marketing communications, on your company website, and on business cards. Usernames for Facebook pages communicate this identity and make it easier for people to find and interact with your page. People can enter the username as a search term on Facebook or on search engines to locate your page.

Facebook Groups. Facebook recently added a new group functionality. These new groups are a good way to gather people together with similar interests to discuss and share information about that topic. They allow people to become more interactive about the things they are interested in without having to broadcast to their entire friend list. A good example might be a group organized around an idea like “organic gardening,” a cause like “Pink Ribbon Plants,” or a community project.

Facebook Places. This is the social network’s new location product. It’s a lot like Foursquare. Users can use their smartphones to “check in” at restaurants, venues, businesses and other locations and broadcast that to their friends’ news feeds. Whenever someone checks in at a location, it corresponds to a web page including items such as descriptions, addresses, maps and friends’ activities. You can claim your business’ location page by clicking the “Is this your business?” link at the bottom of its place page. Once you prove it’s your business, you will gain greater control over it.

Connecting your Facebook page to your website. Facebook’s promotion option allows you to embed real-time Facebook posts on a business website. This calls attention to your Facebook activity and encourages visitors to click the “Like” button, increasing your Facebook followers. Once they “Like” your page, your status updates will appear in their newsfeed, keeping your store top of mind whenever they log in.

Coordinating your YouTube videos with Facebook and your website. Another option for promoting your website and Facebook accounts is to connect them to your YouTube posts. You can add i-frame code within the website to allow real-time YouTube posts to show up on your website. You can also set your YouTube channel to automatically post to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Promoting your Facebook, YouTube and website pages. The important thing to understand here is that promoting your Facebook page is really no different than promoting your website or your store. You need to be in front of your best customers and prospects through marketing and merchandising. Now is the time to put together a coordinated campaign that shows people you are better than the competition. This should include your know-how, knowledgeable and friendly staff, and quality of experience potential customers will find at your garden center. Leading with the benefits will put promotional efforts like Facebook, YouTube and your website in the proper context. These would be logical points to connect with you and your staff.

It all comes back to content. If you want fans, provide interesting information that helps them find success in the garden.

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