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The Smashing Business Blog

The Blog from Smashingbusiness.co.uk. We're all about helping you run a "Smashing Business." Whatever your niche, we hope you find some inspiration or help here. If you'd like us to feature a particular topic just email us at hello@smashingbusiness.co.uk

How to Promote Your Brand on the Biggest Social Network Around, Facebook

Ben Lumley - Monday, December 07, 2009
One of, if not THE biggest player in the Social Media / Web 2.0 world is Facebook. With over 350,000, 000 active users on the books and with over 50% of them accessing their accounts on a daily basis, Facebook is a platform that as a small business owner, you simply can’t ignore.

If you’re actively promoting your online business on somewhere like Twitter and you’re not doing a similar thing on Facebook then you’re potentially missing out on a massive market. I can’t stress how important Facebook can be to your website and business marketing strategy. 

As a person or as a Business? 

When trying to promote something through Facebook there are two ways that you can do it. Promote from your personal account as you or promote through a Fanpage? It’s a personal choice really and will depend on your business but here are a few things to remember. 

1. If you are going to promote your online business through your personal Facebook account (if you have one) then you have to consider how your existing friends, people you might have known for many years, will react to you promoting your business. Most may not mind but you don’t want to alienate an old school friend you’ve just reconnected with after 15 years by pushing your product on them. 

2. If you’re going to do it from your personal account you also need to consider your customers and how they will access the information you’re providing. Take a look at the Smashing Business account on Facebook for example. Because it’s not attached to my personal page anyone in the world with a Facebook account can access it, they don’t have to send me a friend request personally to follow us. Also if you go check out the Smashing Business page right now you will see stuff about us not my embarrassing holiday pictures from last summer.

3. If you are you’re brand and business e.g. davidsmith.com then promoting your products and services via your personal account might be a good thing. I have a friend who runs a site called The Infopreneur (I reviewed his site recently in our new series Great Sites That You Just Can't Put Down) and his personal Facebook page is his business. He makes a great success of it so it is possible to be able to promote your business off a personal account. 

My choice. 

My personal preference would be for a Fanpage however. 

My thinking for this is simple. It provides a more professional look and can allow anyone to follow your updates via Facebook. You can post photos, videos and links to your Fanpage just like you can on a personal profile, allowing you to spread the word about your business out to your community.

Here are some ideas for making the most of Facebook as a tool to promote your business. 

1. Link from your website.

At the bottom of this site is a link to our Facebook Fanpage and there’s also one at the bottom of each post. Over promotion? Well maybe but it does mean that there are regular reminders to readers of the this blog that they can follow us on Facebook and stay updated with all of the latest news and blog posts. 

By linking on your site you allow people to know that you have an area of Facebook that is your own and that they can access it. By advertising the fact you are part of one of the biggest social networks around you are more likely to add to your community, gain followers, and potentially convert followers into sales. 

2. Ask your Facebook friends to join the party.

When I created the Smashing Business page on Facebook after the site launched the first thing I did was invited all of my friends on my personal account to become fans of the page. I instantly gained a few fans and the page has continued to slowly grow since then.

Every once in a while I send a update to our fans to thank them for following us on Facebook and I also ask them if they know of anyone who would find the page or the site useful to invite them on our behalf. You’ll never get anything if you don’t ask. 

3. Don’t use it like Twitter. Facebook is a different animal

With Twitter it’s more acceptable to repeatedly promote something by repeatedly posting the same tweets over a long period of time. The kind of people who use Twitter are desensitized to that, as long as it’s not overdone, and you can therefore promote things more often through that channel. Facebook is different. 

People who use Facebook don’t want to see the same Status Updates repeated 40 times over a 7day period from the same person trying to sell their business. Facebook is better used when you simply post something once and create an ongoing stream of content. Users want to see what you’re promoting just once not over and over again. Bear that in mind when you’re updating your Facebook status for your business.

Note: You can advertise on Facebook via your Fanpage but as it’s something that we don’t currently do here a Smashing Business, so I didn’t feel it was suitable for me to discuss how that works having no personal experience of it. I will though in time. If you have experience of advertising on Facebook why not lets us know in the comments. 

How do you promote your online business on Facebook?

5 Reasons why Apple Stores are Great Examples of How You Should Run Your Online Business

Ben Lumley - Thursday, December 03, 2009
I’m a geek and a proud geek at that. I love all things techy and gadgety and can think of nothing better than a Sunday afternoon of playing around with some gadget or building something cool and funky. For a real treat I love to go to an Apple store and stare at wonder at all of the shiny gadgets and gizmos. I’m assuming that my response in an Apple store is something to that of a child who gets to see Santa’s Toy Factory.

I’ve never been to an Apple store in the US but if it wouldn’t surprise me if they were the same as the ones we have here in the UK only much bigger. (So I apologise to anyone reading in the US but I only have experience of UK Apple stores.) 

There’s something amazing about going in to an Apple store if you’re a geek like me. Rows upon rows of neatly laid out shiny Apple products all begging to be touched and played with. Everything in an Apple store is exactly where you’d expect it to be and help for a cool looking dude in an Apple t-shirt is never too far away. 

Whenever I go into an Apple store, even if I don’t buy anything, I leave feeling inspired. Inspired to build a better Online Business. 

Here are my 5 reason why Apple Stores are great examples of how you should run your online business. 

1. Like Santa’s Toy Factory. 

Does your site make people jump up out of their seat when they see it like walking in to an Apple Store or does it leave your customers wanting more? Now I’m not trying to get into the whole Form over Functionality debate but I do think your site should look the business to really engage with your customers. If you’re not a designer then spend some money on a really nice template for your site that will give it the wow factor. If you are a designer then spend some time before you launch your site making it look good. 

But whoever you are and whatever you do make sure that you’ve got the content on your site to back up the design. There is truly nothing worse than a site that looks really good but is completely useless. Apples stores aren’t just pretty, they are also full of loads of really cool stuff, your online business should be the same. 

2. The “Oh now that’s cool” effect. 

When Apple release a new update or a new product they expect the “oh now that’s cool” response from the public. There’s always something they’ve done to make a product better that Apple know their customers will love. Does your online business make your customers say to themselves “oh now that’s cool” whenever you release a new product or service or update an existing one? Or does your business leave them feeling indifferent? 

Your customers should be impressed with what you offer whether it’s a product or a service. If they are they’ll keep coming back for more everything. 

3. Sensible help from cool looking people. 

I have never met an Apple Genius who didn’t know what they were talking about or demonstrate some personal experience in order to help you. When you ask for someone’s help and they talk from experience you nearly always take their advice, don’t you?

Do you offer that kind of personal customer service experience? Do you know your products and services inside out? You should do because then when a customer asks you a question you can give them the answer there and then. There is nothing more frustrating as a customer than a business owner whose stock response is always “I’ll get back to you on that.” Don’t be that person. 

4. The simple yet stylish factor. 

Apple stores are stylish, there’s no denying that. Beautifully laid out with everything just where you’d expect it to be. There aren’t packaging boxes everywhere blocking up the aisles or products slung here there and everywhere. Shelves and surfaces are uncluttered, enabling the products themselves to truly sell themselves. 

Your online business website should be the same. It should make sense to your customers so that they can find what they need when they need it. Your customers shouldn’t have to click on stupidly hidden links in order to find your products. Everything on your site should be clear and easy to find. 

5. Leaving with a shiny new product that does what it’s supposed to. 

When you buy something for an Apple store you always get that excited feeling of walking out with your new product. You get it home and it does exactly what it’s supposed to do, straight out of the box. 

Your online business should offer the exact same thing, every time. Your business will crash and burn within days if you ship dodgy products and you’ll end up with no customers if the service you provide doesn’t live up to what you originally offered. In online business you should always exceed your customer’s expectations and give them more that they were expecting. 

Does your online business run like an Apple store? Let us know in the comments.

Should I use Social Media to help me sell more products?

Ben Lumley - Monday, November 09, 2009

No! This is where most businesses get it wrong.

Whether you’re running a bricks and mortar company with office space coming out of your eyeballs or a funky online store that comprises of you in your back room working until late at night the going off to your regular job, the answer is always no.

Social Media is not about selling. It’s not about whoring yourself and your business out on Twitter or Facebook or on your blog to make more money; it’s about a whole lot more. If you treat Social Media like another member of your sale teams, who’s constantly trying to sell every product that you have to anyone who will listen is just bad business. You’re about 5 years behind the trends if you do that. Wake up!

Social Media is about Customer Service. It’s about listening to what people have to say and what people want and helping them out. It’s about solving problems when you can with not asking for anything in return. Social Media connects you with your customers but that doesn’t give you the permission to assault them at every turn with the hard sell.

Try listening and not selling through Social Media. The people who sell for you through Social Media are your customers, who by word of mouth recommendations will bring new customers to you. 

Branding Yourself and your Company Online

Ben Lumley - Friday, October 23, 2009
Following on from the video last week by Kevin Rose on Taking Your Site from One to One Million taken from this year FOWA conference today's article is a talk also given at this year's confernece by Alex Hunter (formerly off Virgin).

It's a talk aimed particularly at Web App developers, obviously, but if you watch it and take what you hear on a very general business level you'll end up taking a lot of great thoughts and ideas away from it about how brand your business as well as yourself.

This is a good one. Enjoy

 

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