“You are very prolific on Facebook” commented an old school friend recently with some curiosity. She’s on there, but I don’t think she really gets it. “I mainly do it for business” I answered, “although there are some fun bits too, I’m probably on there a bit too much” I admitted. But am I? When I’m on Facebook I’m working for myself, promoting me, promoting Wine Travel Guides and promoting Chalet Balaena (my French Alps rental) through virtual networking. I’m also communicating more quickly, often more visually, and possibly more effectively than by email.
Last night on FB, a recently bereaved colleague was out there – on his own at home, missing his late wife. Lots of people rallied round with supporting comments for him. I know he appreciates this, as he’s told me. What was he supposed to do without FB – phone a friend? Perhaps he didn’t feel like doing that. Write a letter or email? Forget it. He shared his feelings and received the feedback that helped him, even if only just to get through the night.
My suggestion is, if you haven’t yet embraced Facebook or are not a regular or convinced user, then consider it as a tool like any other new communication tool you are not familiar with: investigate it, learn it and embrace it, make it yours if it suits you. Whether you use it for business or not depends very much on your business model and your role in it, but in my view most businesses need some sort of FB presence. However, before I go further may I urge you, whatever you do, to mind your FB manners [WARNING: Amusing video, if you haven’t got 4 minutes spare, just watch the first minute, it’s worth the giggle.]:
For beginners, here’s my checklist of FB terminology:
- FB Personal Page or Personal Profile = default page for you.
- FB Business Page or Fan Page = business page for your business.
- FB Group = more-or-less what it says, but beyond the scope of this blog post, to be covered in another post perhaps!
- Post = something you write (sometimes called a status) on a FB personal or business page.
And now, here are my Top Seven Tips for using Facebook for business, with a slant towards anyone working in wine:
DO use a personal voice on your personal page, be you – Jo Bloggs, not – Jo Bloggs Wine Company (a business name can work for Twitter, but not for a personal Facebook profile, as they are NOT the same). So logically …. DON’T set up a normal personal profile for your business. (I for one, and several other people I know will simply not accept ‘friendship’ with a winery, wine shop, or brand i.e. an inanimate object). But …
DO set up a Page for your business and then personalise the name – Jo Bloggs Wine Company – you can do this as soon as you have 25 Fans (or Likes).
DO educate, educate, educate. Share a little knowledge about a grape, a wine region or anything related – obviously the more unusual the better. Wine lovers want to learn and many will become a fan of your page precisely because of this. You will then build their loyalty and that’s what you need. Also …
DO post interesting photos/images – you can feed them in from Flickr, but remember to caption them, or you can just upload a single picture from your hard drive. FB Fans love pictures – again this builds up loyalty. Or, even better, post short educational, well-made or simply very scenic videos. Perhaps even a funny one now and again (hope you enjoyed the one above that I found on FB….).
DO be vigilant about spam comments on your business page – learn to check regularly and delete when appropriate. I know several high profile wine-related pages that simply don’t notice that their so-called ‘Fans’ are weighing in with gratuitous porn, finance and spam in the ‘Others’ part of their FB Business Page.
DO be visible personally, by ‘Liking’ other peoples posts and even better finding something interesting to add in a comment. Interaction is key!
DO make sure you make the most of the marketing opportunity in the obvious ways, like including links to your website and ways to contact you on the Info page on both your personal profile page and your business page.
Facebook has its downsides, which are relentlessly talked about in the traditional media (are they frightened about competition by some chance?). Being one of the most popular websites on the internet, it’s inevitable that FB will be abused by some users, who target the young, the weak-willed or the innocent. Vandals and criminals are all over the internet, just as they are in real life. Think of FB as a very big city: watch your bag and be vigilant about your personal safety, but embrace it, have fun and use all the opportunities it presents you.
DISCLAIMER: I am a mere regular business and personal user of Facebook, not a guru. I have learnt by using FB, by reading other peoples’ advice and by using my own common sense. If you’ve read something like this before elsewhere, then it’s only that we all agree, it’s not deliberate plagiarism. Nothing is gospel here, but if you like what I’ve written and want my help with your business presence on FB, please get in touch.