January 2011: 10 Tips to Being Fabulous on Facebook

"No one gets to 500 million friends without making a few enemies"

What a catchline, eh? It belongs to the Social Network, the rather entertaining film about how Facebook Co-founder, Marc Zuckerberg lost friends but still influenced people in his quest to make Facebook a success. And with 500 million people using Facebook (almost 8% of the world’s population) it is well worth considering how this could be amazing for your business... but like most things in life, it ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it..

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts from someone who has observed and advised on Facebook usage.

1. Do: Create a business profile (fan page).

Don’t: use your personal profile for work.  Keep them separate. Surprisingly, a picture of you getting locked on New Year’s Eve is not good for you, or your business.

2. Do: Consider using a tone that suits the digitally fluent readers: light, journalistic, upbeat.

Don’t feel you have to write like a 16-year old to sound cool. “Tx 4 ur msgs fans, we luv u and ur shekels” It’s perfectly acceptable to use the English we all learned at school: “Thanks for your messages and continued business folks, we appreciate it!".

3. Do: Ask your customers what they want.   People love giving their opinion. In Ireland it is a national past time. Terry Prone, PR guru wrote a book called: “The best advice I never took”, where she tells us that it is the adviser, rather than the advisee who gets the most joy from giving advice. So allow your customers the joy of ‘advising’ you and helping you shape your products or your service to better meet their needs.

4. Do manage your ‘fans’ expectations in terms of engagement.

Don’t set out expectations you can’t manage. E.g. a restaurant I frequent said something about a free coffee for the first review. Yeah you got it, they got their first rave review from me, no acknowledgment, no coffee. I don’t care about the coffee and I still love the food, but I ain’t feelin no love.

5. Do: offer your readers something of interest. Think reader first - me second. Give them a reason to ‘like’ your page. Maybe offer a prize for the 100th fan? Think what’s in it for them..

Don’t assume you know best about your brand. Scary thought I know! Some of the world’s most loved brands rely on their customers for advice and input. Have a look at Ben & Jerry’s “Do the world a flavour” where their customers create new ice creams recipes. It’s a PR bonanza. Nobody does the feel-good factor quite as well as these gentlemen. Peckish already now ain’t ya?

6. Do get your actual real-life friends to ‘like’ your page. This used to be ‘become a fan’ of.

Don't re-send the message if they didn't like you the first time.

7. Do assume they will stop reading your Fan page if the content is not relevant to them.

But what is relevant you might ask? If you are a charity, tell them about your next fundraising event. If you are a business, tell them about your latest service. If you are making kiddies toys, remind them of when they need to order for Christmas (just don’t do that in July).

Don't bombard your real-life friends with irrelevant marketing propaganda. Set up two lists of contacts via Facebook: 1) Your customers and 2) Your real-life friends. Mix biz and pleasure at your peril. There is a difference between 1) telling the world about your passion for what you do = a good thing, and 2) Being irritating.

8. Do: Promote your Facebook page in your email newsletters or on your website or printed material.

Don't, however do this if you only have only one fan and zero customer postings.

9. Do get a vanity URL: You need 25 fans before you can get what’s known as a vanity URL, that is a nice address like this: e.g. http://www.facebook.com/MichaelMulcahyTD
Not http://www.facebook.com/MichaelMulcahyTD I”?!”zzmm?!zz098

To get a vanity URL, just go to : http://www.Facebook.com/username/

10. Do: have fun and be creative.

Don’t: be afraid to make mistakes.