Facebook and MySpace for Small Business

As we continue our look at web 2.0 and how it can help your small business, today we’ll take a look at Facebook and MySpace.  We’re going to focus on Facebook with the understanding that just about anything you can say about Facebook applies to MySpace as well.  A logical question would be, "What’s the difference?"

Here’s a quote from the introduction to the book, Facebook, The Missing Manual by E.A. Vander Veer.

"If you’re thinking that Facebook sounds a lot like MySpace, you’re right.  The difference?  In a word, positioning.  Facebook does pretty much the same stuff as MySpace, but in a cleaner, more controlled, more professional way. So while MySpace’s blinking, flashing, online teen haven boasts nearly twice as many members as Facebook, Facebook’s membership is rapidly catching up.  And over half of all new Facebook members count themselves among the 25-and-older crowd, so it’s not just for college kids anymore."

When the book was published earlier this year, Facebook boasted more than 50 million members.  That’s 50 million people, more than half of whom fall into a desirable demographic.  Obviously they’re all computer-savvy and above average in education and income.  It’s a very desirable group.  There are a number of good books on the market that cover all the ins and outs of Facebook and MySpace so this post will just hit the highlights.

You may be thinking that that’s all well and good, but what are you going to do with all those people.  A huge majority of them are never going to be your customers.  Well, on Wednesday we introduced you to Heather Gorringe and Wiggly Wigglers.  We told you how she parlayed social media, especially Facebook into a very successful business.  Since that post, I’ve been corresponding with a gentleman who’s a Wiggly customer because of Facebook.  David lives in Newcastle, nearly 300 miles away from Heather’s retail location in Blakemere.

There are four basic ways you can use Facebook (and MySpace) to build your personal brand and your business brand.  One is to set up a personal Facebook profile.  The profile is all about you.  You can post information about yourself including photos.  This is where you build up your personal resume as an expert in your field. 

The personal profile is your Facebook "home page".  From your profile page you can start looking for people with similar interests and begin to build a network.  For example when I search for "Saint Louis" and "sewing" I get 147 names.  That’s 147 potential Facebook "friends" to be in my network.  You invite those people to be friends and most of them will probably respond positively because the whole purpose of Facebook is to make friends.

If you’re posting interesting stuff on your Facebook page, your new friends are going to start forwarding it to their friends and soon those friends-of-friends will find you too.  You also have the option of sending friend requests to your friends’ friends.  Having a mutual friend is a strong motivation for people to accept your invitation.

A second way to connect through Facebook is through groups.  Any member can start a group.  Groups are formed around an area of interest.  There are more than 500 Facebook groups that involve the term "sewing". Heather credits much of her success to her Facebook group.

It’s important to remember that your profile page and any groups you belong to are not places to sell.  They’re places to "sell" yourself.  The product and service sales will follow naturally if you do your personal profile well.

The other two ways to use Facebook for your business are more directly related to sales.  The first is a business "page".  Every business can have a Facebook page, whether you’re Coca Cola or a one person shop.  A "page" is the business equivalent of a personal profile.  The difference is that others become your "friend" on your profile page, they become "fans" of your business page.  The great thing about pages, besides the fact that they’re free, is that when someone becomes a fan of a business page, that information shows up on their persona profile.  If I see my friends are all fans of a particular business, there’s a good chance I’ll become a fan as well.

Finally, you can advertise on Facebook.  But it’s advertising with a difference.  There’s a lot of information on a person’s profile, including physical location, age, gender,education and interests.  How cool would it be if you could direct your message to women between the ages of 25 and 35 living in Springfield, MO.  (There are 4,060 of them on Facebook.)  You can direct your ad to just that group which is a very effective way to conserve your ad dollars.  If you want to further confine your efforts to married women, then Facebook will show your ad to 2,040 people.  Note that the head count at the bottom right of the screen changes as you change your search.  Once you finish defining your target audience, Facebook automatically calculates the cost of your ad.

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Facebook and MySpace both offer a lot of ways for you to build your business at little or no cost. They’re free to join and anything you do to your profile can be changed at any time.  A word of caution:  It’s easy to get carried away with what you include in your personal profile.  I’d say that if there’s anything you wouldn’t want your mom (or your kids) to see, don’t post it.  These things have a way of coming back to haunt you.  But be yourself.  If you’re basically a fun person, let that come through in your profile.  If you’re totally serious, that’s ok too.  Just be you and people who have similar interests, hopefully people who can become your customers, will gravitate to you online the same way they do in real life.

On Tuesday we’ll take a look at email newsletters.  In the mean time have a great Labor Day weekend!

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One Response

  1. Thanks. This is a great piece for this question. Small businesses should read this first before starting their my space or facebook pages.

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