Saturday 7 March 2009

Facebook Changes .. A Step Forward for Internet Marketing

Facebook has fast become the most popular social networking website of our time. Today, facebook boasts 175 million users with an extraordinary - 750,000 people joining facebook every day. People are simply flocking to this ever popular online website for the social interaction and sense of community they gain from it.

From a marketing perspective, you would be crazy not to try and use Facebook to communicate with potential and existing customers. Its another exciting and more importantly free marketing channel small businesses need to explore.

Here is how Facebook works:

Personal Profile - Keep in touch with people...
You join Facebook for free and set up your own personal profile, you can only have one profile and it should be on a personal level not commercial. Add your photos and background information to your profile and then start finding and keeping in touch with friends and family who are also on Facebook.

Facebook Groups - Share your enthusiasm for something...
You can set up a group on Facebook which should be based around something that you are enthusiastic about such as a hobby. The idea is that you then talk to other people who share your enthusiasm for your chosen subject. For example, you could set up a group on playing golf and chat to other golf enthusiasts on Facebook. This is a bit like setting up a mini forum around your chosen subject and requires moderating and maintaining.

Facebook Pages - Promote your product or service...
You can create a Facebook page, which allows you to promote a product or service to Facebook members. Facebook users can then find your page through a recommendation or by searching facebook and then become a fan of your page. More than 3 million users become fans of Facebook pages everyday. Once you have fans of your Facebook page you can then engage and interact with them. Your fans can then recommend the page to their friends and your fan base organicaly grows. The key is to provide fresh and relevant content for your fans, keeping their attention and loyalty to your page.

View our Facebook page

Improvements to Facebook
Until recently it wasn't possible to communicate with all of your fans at one time, which limits the impact of Facebook as a marketing tool. The good news is that Facebook have just made some changes to allow you to communicate with all of your fans at once. Therefore, if you manage to build up say 2,000 fans, thats 2,000 people you can then directly communicate with. The other added benefit is that this is permission based marketing, these people have chosen to become a fan of your page, so as long as you provide them with relevant content, they should be receptive to your messages.

Facebook appears to be mirroring the functionality of 'Twitter' which is another social networking website growing at an alarming rate. Facebook pages will have the same structure and functionality as personal profiles. This will allow businesses to add updates or create posts which will then be sent directly to the fan's newsfeed. In addition to this, fans have an option to say that they like the post by clicking a link below it. This then gets sent to their friend's news feeds, which has the potential to increase your fan base with a similar effect to a viral marketing campaign.

Your Facebook page has the added benefit of providing 'Insights' which show stats for the pages, including the demographic data of your fans. This therefore opens up opportunities for businesses to target certain segments of their Facebook fan base with promotional / brand driven messages.

Top Tips
  • Keep your personal profile personal, do not plug your commercial content, this may result in you being banned from Facebook
  • Only set up a Facebook Group if you have a subject which is relevant and linked to your market For example, a business selling clothes can set up a fashion group and discuss fashion with other people who like to follow it.
  • Set up a Facebook Page for your business, make the pages clear and easy on the eye but provide interesting and up to date content for your fans.
  • Add a 'Become a Fan' button on your page to encourage conversion
  • Utilise the Facebook 'Applications' such as 'Events', 'Reviews' and 'Discussions' to encourage interaction with your fans and provide interesting content
If you own or run your own business and aren't on Facebook yet, I would highly recommend signing up today to start taking advantage of this free marketing channel. Start building a presence for your business and provide relevant information and news around your product or service. This is an opportunity for you to access a huge volume of consumers who with a bit of work and TLC could become your brand advocates and future customers.

Sources: - help guides
Stats: Ed Dale - 30 Day Challenge

Thursday 5 February 2009

Small Business Marketing in a Recession

The UK recession is hitting businesses hard and the first reaction for many businesses will be to cut costs in order to survive the tough economic climate. The budget for Marketing is often at the top of the list when costs are being lowered, seen by many as a 'non-essential' part of the business. But is this true? Can businesses survive a recession if they are not communicating their offering to their target market?

Don't fade away...
Small businesses in particular are in danger of fading away, allowing competitors who maintain their marketing activity to push them out of the market and inevitably out of business. Marketing after all is all about knowing what your customers want, tailoring your offering around that need and communicating the benefits you can offer them. If you stop telling customers why they should buy from you it is more than likely going to result in reduced sales and a reduction in brand awareness. Small businesses shouldn't assume that customers stop spending during a recession, consumers will simply be buying differently. Businesses therefore need to adapt their marketing communications in order to attract customers who are looking for value and are price conscious. Tell customers why they should spend their money with you and give them good reason to do so by communicating your unique benefits and using special offers to attract sales. Customers want to feel as though they are getting a good deal, you need to give this to them.

How Small Businesses Can Survive the Recession...
Marketing doesn't have to blow the budget, small businesses just need to use cost effective marketing techniques in order to attract customers. Here are out tips for cost effective marketing techniques to help you survive the recession:
  • Low Risk Marketing Strategy - try several marketing techniques which are low cost and therefore low risk. You may want to try Online Social Networking, Affiliate Deals, PR, E-Shot Campaigns and Search Engine Marketing, which are all low cost marketing techniques.
  • Meausure and Move On - Everytime you try something new, ensure that you measure and analyse its effectiveness, if its not effective stop it and move onto another marketing technique. When you find techniques that are producing good results, try expanding the activity in order to maximise the return.
  • Competitor Analysis - Keep an eye on what your competitors are doing, and in particular the successful competitors. See what is working for them in the current climate, take inspiration from this and apply it to your business.
  • Low Cost Help - If you need some help along the way, try our marketing mentoring service which costs only £10 for 30mins of our time and marketing expertise. It's a 'pay as you go' service which provides small businesses with affordable marketing support when they need it.
Small businesses shouldn't fall into the trap of cutting all marketing activity in order to survive the recession, this could have the opposite effect, letting you fade away and loose market share. My suggestion would be to implement a low cost and low risk marketing strategy that keeps your business infront of customers and could even see you take market share from your competitors who may have dropped their marketing altogether.

For cost effective marketing mentoring for your business contact Contrast Web Solutions.