Larger remodeling companies have the resources to conduct integrated social media campaigns that combine Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and other social media to drive traffic to their website and, ultimately, into their sales-management system.
While that approach can be successful, it takes money, time, and talent. Someone — either in-house staff or a consultant — has to create high-quality content for each site, target specific demographic groups, and then monitor the results from each service, tweaking as necessary. I ran some numbers on setting up a Twitter-Facebook-blog-website campaign, and what I came up with suggests that you’d have to spend almost 80 hours a month to gain a handful of sales a year. That’s just not practical for most small operations.
Luckily, you can get many of the same benefits with a fraction of the effort by using just Facebook, which is very small-business friendly. It has lots of built-in features you can use to establish your brand and — at the same time — protect yourself from reputation assassins.
There are three basic types of Facebook setup:
- Personal profiles: meant for individual users only, not businesses or any other fictitious entity.
- Business/fan pages: the equivalent of a personal page, except for your business
- Groups: a page that a company or an individual can set up as a collaboration site where members can add to the content by uploading photos, videos, or links.
Until recently, Facebook was not clear about how to set up a business page (or group), and the most common mistake remodelers still make is trying to shoehorn their business into a personal profile. Using your business name (Square & Plumb Remodeling) in the “Your Name” (John Doe) field and trying to adapt features that were meant for individual users to fit the business is a bad idea.
As a way to discourage online predators, it’s a violation of Facebook’s “terms of service” to impersonate anyone or anything. If Facebook monitors discover it, your page will be taken down and your account closed. That might be a blessing in disguise compared with looking like a clueless newbie when your profile starts displaying messages like “Square & Plumb has a birthday tomorrow” or “Poke Remodeling to say Hello.”
Personal Profile vs. Business Pages
You can set up as many Facebook business pages or groups as you want — one for your company and a separate one for each of your projects. Instead of collecting “friends,” which is how a personal Facebook profile works, business pages get “fans” and Groups have “members.”
Unlike personal “friends,” you can’t invite people to become fans, but they can find you in a variety of other ways, including recommendations from other fans they know, searches, and “nudges” by you from your personal “wall.” They become fans by clicking the “like this” button on your page. And while you can’t stop the general public from becoming “fans” or viewing the page, you can lock down who can make comments or upload photos and videos.
Once your personal profile is set up, use the link in the left-hand menu bar to create your business page. Choices are “official page for a local business”; “brand, product, or organization”; or “artist, band, or public figure.” I’d select “local page for a local business” but it doesn’t really matter. While the categories are intended for different kinds of operations, the only difference between them is the mix of features they offer. If you pick the wrong one, most everything can be changed later.
Next, you have to “edit” the page. This is where you add or subtract features and configure who else can administer your page(s). The process is pretty much self-explanatory. There are half-a-dozen content categories (discussion boards, events, links, photos, notes, and videos); feedback features (insight and review) and dozens of third-party applications such as data feeds from other social media applications, calendar displays, and more.
For the more adventurous, Facebook business pages also include a development environment called “Static FBML” (Facebook markup language). Static FBML lets you build customized pages that are similar to a regular Web page inside of your Facebook page.
Groups vs. Business Pages
Many people are confused about whether to set up a business page or a group. My answer: Do both. Create the business page first, then create a group to accommodate your “fans” as your business page(s) gain popularity.
Key differences between business pages and groups include:
- Group membership is by invitation only. You decide who can send invitations
- Business pages are visible to anyone; groups are only visible to Facebook subscribers. You can invite non-Facebook members to join the group, but they won’t be able to view your group site until they join Facebook first.
- Groups are collaborative and encourage members to add content (photos, videos, links) whereas business pages are more one-sided and depend on you to edit and maintain the content.