Saturday, February 23, 2008

(Almost) Free Marketing on Facebook

You can get a little bit of absolutely free marketing on Facebook, albeit very little.

Facebook is one of the largest social networking communities on the web. I've tried about a dozen social networks, and Facebook is by far my favorite. While it's my favorite, it certainly isn't the only way to go. I enjoy it because it's a more adult approach to social networking. It's popular among college students, and becoming increasingly popular among professional adults. It has a huge presence in the United States, but is also widely respected throughout the UK, the English-speaking Middle East, Australia, Scandinavia and Canada.

There are ways to market your business on Facebook that are free, low cost, and extremely high profile. Today we're just going to cover the free approach to marketing on Facebook.

I qualified this as "almost" free marketing because it doesn't cost you anything except time, which early in your blogging is your most valuable commodity. Using this strategy on Facebook or any other social network requires that you become an active participant in the network.

Promoting yourself on Facebook for free only works if you have a large network of friends on Facebook. When I signed on to Facebook, because I'm extremely old (37) by Facebook standards, I only had four or five real-life friends that were already participants. I e-mailed a bunch of my friends and ask them to sign up, and a few of them did, but only two or three participate regularly on Facebook.

Facebook has tons of applications, games, interactive groups, and each member can join a network specific to their region, workplace, college, or high school. Because I'm no longer in college or high school, and my workplace consists of only three people, my regional network is my primary network. Additionally, I don't know many people in my region because I moved to the area only two years ago. Most of my social interaction is online.

It took me about a month to get heavily involved in the Facebook community. I started playing a couple of games, participating in a couple of groups, and a few other projects. I made a conscious effort to invite people to become my "friends" and most of them accepted. Before long I had over 100 people on my friends list. Now I can start using this list as marketing.

Here are the steps:
  1. Sign up for Facebook
  2. Invite all of you real-life friends to Facebook using the friends feature within the website.
  3. After a bunch of your friends sign up, start communicating with them through Facebook, this will encourage them to become part of the community. (I didn't do this very well, so learn from my mistake.)
  4. Join several groups that you care about. Participate in those groups. Invite people from those groups to become Facebook friends.
  5. Add a few applications, but be warned many of them tend to turn friends off. Some of the applications require you to invite friends to use the applications. Steer clear of these. The best applications are games, applications targeted to the same subject is your website, and applications that let you share opinions.
  6. Use these applications, and as you meet people invite them to become friends.
  7. Poke people. Facebook has this silly little application called "poke". You're not allowed to communicate with everyone on Facebook, but you can poke them. When you do this they get a message next time they sign on that allows them to poke you back. The benefit of this for you is that individuals to repeatedly poke back and forth with you will recognize your name when you start posting items.
  8. Next, use the Post Items application, one of the basic Facebook applications included in everyone's profile to post links to your friends can see. Start by posting a link to your homepage, and encourage people to visit it using the comments field.
  9. Periodically use the post items application to post individual pages of your website, articles, or blog entries. Your friends will get used to seeing your posts. If your posts are to quality information they won't mind.
  10. Last step, read through all of your friends profiles. Some of them allow friends to e-mail them and post their personal e-mail addresses. Send a personal e-mail, not bulk e-mail, to each of your friends, inviting them to view your blog and participate. Make sure it's a personal sounding e-mail and doesn't sound like a form letter.
If your blog is quality information and they're interested. They may become regular readers. Encourage them to participate by commenting. Anyone who gets heavily involved with your blog should be invited to write for it or submit links. The more content you can publish the better, and a few friends are willing to help for free, it improves your blog.

You can use this Facebook marketing strategy on almost any social networking site.
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