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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?

Introducing our New Service

Ben Lumley - Sunday, November 15, 2009
We've launched a new service this week that we thought you'd like to know about.

For many of you, you may already be following Smashing Business on Twitter @smashbiz

Well we've now started @smashbizlinks from where we're posting out just links that we find that you may find useful as a small business owner.

So if you want in on some great content that we find from all over the internet then why not follow @smashbizlinks

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


Why is everyone waiting for IT to HAPPEN

Ben Lumley - Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Too many business hold back from Social Media / Web 2.0 because of fear of the unknown. Don't want for something to happen but rather be part of making it happen for your brand. You don't wait for customers to come to you, you go after your customers.

Via garyvaynerchuk.com

The Social Media Revolution

Ben Lumley - Monday, October 12, 2009
So we've already talked about using Twitter to help get your brand out there but today I want to talk the whole Social Media revolution and how it can affect your brand.

The traditional forms of marketing yourself and brand are dropping away as people move to the more new age ways of advertising and communicating with their customers, yet many businesses dismiss Social Media as a fad that will never be able to replace TV, Radio and Print advertising. By jumping on the Social Media train you could connect with your customers in a whole new way.

Social Media can always work against you however if you fail to realise the power of it. People talk. We, as business owners, know this but if you're not engage with your customers online and you're pumping out poor products or customer services then people will talk. The video below comments that only 14% of people trust traditional advertising while a whooping 78% trust the recommendations of other people. That, by itself, is a massive indication of how customers have changed their buying habits in light of this Social Media revolution.

The question is do you care about what people say about your brand or do you think it's just all a fad?


Entrepreneurs can change the world

Ben Lumley - Friday, October 09, 2009

Gary Vaynerchuk - do the stuff you love!

Ben Lumley - Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Known for Wine Library TV, Gary Vaynerchuk crushes it daily. A passionate believer in the internet and doing what you love rather than stick out your boring 9-5, Gary's ideas on new media are what we at Smashingbusiness.co.uk also hold to. An awesome speaker, this video is a real thought provoker. (contains strong lanuage from the outset)

Gary Vaynerchuk @ Big Omaha 2009 from Big Omaha on Vimeo.

Making the most out of Twitter for Online Business

Ben Lumley - Monday, September 28, 2009

As online business owners, we're always thinking about how we can continually get our brand and our business name out in to that ether commonly as the Web. We follow all of the latest social networking trends online but most of the time we’re not sure how to use them properly and that’s ok because we’re entrepreneurs not online marketing gurus. We can see the importance but it takes a lot of time to invest in online marketing via social media. Doesn’t it?

Well that depends. If you want to be continuingly reminding people of products and offers that you’re selling on the hour, every hour of the day and night then yes, it’ll probably take up a lot of your time and you probably won’t be interested in reading on. But if you want to harness the power of some of these social media worlds then let’s carry on.

I’m going to look at one of the big one’s in the social media world; Twitter. Why? Because at smashingbusiness.co.uk (@smashbiz) we use it and we think it’s great. Twitter can be a really powerful tool, that used well, can really help to increase the interest in your brand and your online business.

Here are my 5 tips for getting the most out of Twitter.

1.       Join the Conversion

For me, this is one of the big things that people new to Twitter miss. Twitter is a conversation and as in any conversation there needs to be a dialogue. Conversations aren’t much fun or of much interest when only one person talks. If you see something on Twitter that’s of interest, whether you agree or disagree with it, then reply to it or retweet it. Join the conversation. Use Twitter as a discussion tool not just a soap box.

2.       Don’t be a spammer

Personally, as an active Twitter user, there’s nothing more annoying to me than someone repeatedly pushing out spam; we sell this, we sell that, we’re great buy from us. It’s so unbelievably annoying and I usually unfollow them straight away. If you’re using Twitter to simply sell you’re products then you’ve probably chosen the wrong medium in which to do so, to be honest.

You need to balance your need or want to sell yourself and your product with the need to engage with your followers. Granted they’d like to know about your deals or special offers but they’d also like to know about you and what you’re doing. @ebuyerdotcom are at this. They tweet about their deals and new products sure but they also tweet about their blog posts and especially their Cake and Cookie Fridays, where they offer up great recipes for tasty treats. Try to use some creativity with your Twitter Feed and have fun.

3.       Follow to be followed

I found this out to my own expense about 6 months ago when I’d gotten stuck on around 100 followers and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t work out why my numbers wouldn’t change, then a friend of my pointed out the problem. I was unable to attract people to follow me because I was only following a handful of people myself. People were having the courtesy to follow me but I didn’t have the courtesy to follow them back. If you’re a big, well known brand like Virgin or the BBC then you can attract 100,000’s followers without ever having to follow them back but if, like me, you’re a small fish in a very large pond you need to follow people to be followed.

4.       Using 3rd Party Apps

There’s nothing more sapping to your productivity as a business owner than checking your Twitter profile every 5 minutes to see what your followers are up to. If you do that you’ll never get any real work done so you need to use applications that can better track your followers. There are quite a few, just check out these apps  and you’ll see what I mean. My personal favourite is TweetDeck. Its customable features are great. You can set up columns for many of your Twitter accounts as you want; business or personal. Personal on my TweetDeck I have a column of just my favourite people that I follow, my mentions, and my Facebook news Feed. I get notifications on my desktop when any of those update and can then view them when I have the time.

5.       Hold back the flood

There can be loads of excitement when you initially join a social network like Twitter but that enthusiasm can boil over if you don’t discipline yourself and you can find that you are posting updates every  5mins. If you’re flooding the public timeline with that much content then, yes you will get noticed, but will you get noticed for the right reasons? Most likely not. Most likely you be disregarded by the actual people you’re trying to communicate with. Rather than posting out everything you can think of, at any given moment, try to hold back and only post the real quality and your followers will appreciate you more.

Follow smashingbusiness at @smashbiz

Or me @benlumley6

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