Traditionally and in the simplest terms, public relations was defined as getting positive news coverage for a company, product or service in business or trade press, radio or TV. It’s clear the times have changed drastically. No longer can traditional public relations tactics cut it alone, but rather now must be blended with a range of tailored social media activities. And no longer are feature articles in key trade press and interviews on the front page of the business section daily newspaper the only place companies want to be highlighted. Today, brand activity and engagement needs to happen across a broad range of blogs, social networks and social media channels. It may be surprising that Facebook is one channel businesses can no longer afford to overlook. A late 2009 study by Razorfish found that 40% of users become fans of brands on Facebook. Facebook counts more than 500 million active users worldwide; those numbers and audience are hard to ignore, nor should they be!
Establishing and maintaining an active Facebook Fan page gives companies and brands a broad palette of ways on how they can engage and communicate with their customers, prospects and market in general. For example: consumer brands can push promotions and deals. Musicians can share tour schedules, enable their fans to purchase chotchkies andschwag and encourage fans to post comments and pictures from concerts. Celebrities can champion non-profits and charities to help fundraise amongst fans, etc. The list of possibilities is unbounded.
Let’s consider a few ways companies, whether startups or big brands, can leverage a Facebook Page. Any company wants to maximize how they use the open real estate on their company homepage; they don’t want to clutter the important company and product information. With a Page, this opens up how and what you can share. In addition to some of the basic things a business might include such as blog posts, relevant market reports and white papers, product details, etc., businesses can add tabs and applications to post and share YouTube and Vimeo videos, presentations, Flickr photos, upcoming events, and so on. Essentially you can turn your Facebook Page into a one-stop shop and display case for all of your business’ online content.
Check out one of Cisco’s most excellent Facebook pages. They use it to raise employee donations, promote the CEO’s blog post and show demos, among many of the other activities they are doing to engage their fans and constituents. On Booz Allen Facebook’s page, users are guided on where to find the company on Twitter, YouTube, etc., but can also view their latest videos and upcoming forums, employee-focused or industry events, for example, without having to leave the fan page.
To underscore the importance and value of having a Facebook Page to expand your company’s brand engagement, consider this: Google recently started crawling Facebook Pages made public in efforts to expand its real-time search results. This means now people can more easily find streamlined results for businesses’ media assets that are strewn across the social media universe, such as Booz Allen’s Facebook page and Twitter handle coming up on page 3 of a random Google search. It’s never to late to set or spruce up your company’s presence and extend its social media footprint starting with a corporate Facebook identity, so jump in and start engaging with your customers and prospects where they are present.