Why Facebook Pages — and Other Social Media Tools — Help Strengthen Your Website and Business

September 28, 2010

I came across a vlog tonight basically saying that businesses should ignore social media and just focus on their own domainhttp://www.yourbusiness.com. Of course, you all know me — I love social media, and I use it as a marketing tool to help small businesses and nonprofits achieve their goals. Since I know that many of you have heard some of the things he says in the video, and probably have questions, I decided to write about my thoughts.

One of the first things that made me say, “Hey!” was the statement that Facebook did not give customers notice about the change in the width of business pages. Facebook did, in fact, give notice to customers about the change. I got my notice about two or three weeks before the change, giving OSC plenty of time to redesign our clients’ default tabs. Each person using a page had a yellow box at the top of their screen saying that on such-and-such a date, Facebook would be decreasing the width by about 200 pixels.

Although I definitely agree that all businesses should have a permanent web address, I do not recommend that people set up personal profiles instead of business pages. There are many things a business page can do that a personal page can’t, such as: having a default tab and adding extra tabs that you can customize with HTML and CSS (think a welcome tab with information about your business, and a tab for coupons only those who are a fan of your page can receive!), having a discussions forum and reviews section, adding a Constant Contact tab so that your customers can sign up for your mailing list right from Facebook, and a whole laundry list of other great features.

Yes, it’s a drag that Facebook changes things frequently (and yes, sometimes without notice), but for the most part, the things they offer for business pages have remained the same, and I still urge people to have a business page. It is not a “fad” when people expect to find your business on Facebook so that they can become of a fan of it or like it. If you’re not in the game and your core market is on Facebook, you’re missing out on potential customers.

Furthermore, fans, followers, friends — they are not the property of the different social networks; they are still your customers. Businesses should not ignore social media and just stick to their websites, considering sites like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook are being used as search engines more and more, and are a great way to

  1. build up organic SEO, and
  2. give your customers and prospective customers a way to find you and interact with you aside from your website.

Aside from having at least one social networking account for your business, you should also have an on-site blog in addition to your site’s other content so that people will continue to come back to your site. Your social media will, in turn, link back to your blog, building up yet more organic SEO, and giving customers a reason to keep coming back to your site.

Of course, Facebook is not for everyone, but there are plenty of other social networking sites that will work for your specific business. Social media is here to stay, and we small businesses and nonprofits benefit greatly from the (free!) tools that help us spread our products and messages even further.

Have a question about social media? Leave a comment and ask me, or email me at ebarone@out-sourcecom.com.

Elizabeth K. Barone is a social media marketing consultant — what a mouthful! — web designer, and writer. She likes writing To Do lists on white boards, playing Sims, reading, and helping small businesses and nonprofits achieve their goals.


How the “Crash the Superbowl” contest can help you transform your social media marketing plan

September 15, 2010

PepsiCo — parent company of Doritos, Pepsi Max, Mountain Dew, and several other products — is back in the Superbowl game this year. Last year, the company decided to put the money it would have put into their Superbowl commercial into their very successful Pepsi Refresh project — a grant contest program for nonprofits and other causes.

This year, the company is bringing back its Crash the Superbowl contest from five years ago, inviting people like you and me to submit our own thirty-second commercials about Doritos or Pepsi Max.

This alone is a great idea. It’s appealing because most people want their fifteen minutes — er, thirty seconds — of fame. The thought of having my very own commercial aired during the Superbowl is pretty exciting.

Throw in prizes worth up to ONE MILLION DOLLARS, and you’ve got a really exciting game, possibly even more exciting than the biggest football game of the year (and I’m a football fan)! Here’s the deal, according to Mashable:

The final prizes will be determined by how well these ads perform against USA Today’s Ad Meter, which tracks the real-time responses of a panel of ad viewers during the Super Bowl broadcast to determine which ads were liked most and least. If your ads happens to be the most-liked spot of all the commercials to air during the Super Bowl, you’ll awarded $1 million dollars. The consumer goods brands have pledged $600,000 for second place and $400,000 for third.

If consumer-created Doritos and Pepsi Max ads manage to garner all three positions on the list (a statistically unlikely feat, for sure), an additional $1 million will be awarded to each of the three winners. In addition, whoever creates the highest-ranking ad — whether or not it makes it into the top three — will be guaranteed a contract to create another ad for the two brands in 2011.

The winner of this contest is going to be one lucky little ducky, and I’m super excited to see how this is going to play out. PepsiCo has been proving to really get social media and, like Old Spice, is showing that they can be creative and unique while still utilizing social tools to sell their product and re-excite people about an existing and established brand.

Apply This to Your Own Social Media Marketing Plan

Obviously, we small business owners don’t all have $5,000,000 budgets for a contest. However, like Pepsi and Old Spice, we can work with what we have. Are you a nonprofit working to raise funds for a specific cause? Give away tee shirts and other swag to the donor who raises the most funds via your FirstGiving account. Do you install flooring? Give your customer who tags you the most in their Facebook posts a free room of flooring or a few free feet. (Say that five times fast!) You can have customers create videos about your product and offer a free massage, handmade necklace, waive a registration fee for an event, or something else small, depending on your business and product line.

A good social media marketing plan involves a little creativity and up to an hour a day of execution.

Elizabeth K. Barone is a web designer, writer, social media marketing consultant, and blogger. She is just a little addicted to the internet, and loves to read, eat sushi, play video games, and listen to metal in her spare time.