Growing Your Business

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Today’s blog post is from one of my new friends that I met Windmill Networking on Facebook, John Atterberry. John has a great story to tell from the perspective of a seasoned Marketing Strategist who approached Facebook business strategy from a social perspective. I have been telling companies all along that social media was made for people, not for businesses, and that they need to learn how to network with people in order to gain their trust. A look back at my post on why businesses should like birthdays on Facebook will give you more background on this. John’s success in Facebook is rooted on these same principles, that the core of doing business in social media is networking amongst people. John has been involved in marketing strategy for 20 years and is a Marketing Strategist at Sunergeo Creative. He is adept in assisting companies utilize online and traditional marketing. To learn more please contact John Atterberry at 678-561-4332 and visit www.SunergeoInc.net. If you would like to connect with him click here.

Monetizing Facebook is not impossible. Oh yeah, it is easy to see that it can be done by a company such as Victoria Secret who boasts an mammoth 2.3+ million “fans” or those who “like this” members. The majority of companies do not have the notoriety of a Victoria Secret, not even on their best day. So the question of how to start on a path to make money with this tool was is in need of an answer.

Having actively managed Google AdWords campaigns, I first thought the best way to capitalize on Facebook was to utilize their pay-per-click system. However, I have a client whose web site we manage using Facebook ads thru another agency. When I asked them how this was performing, he noted the performance numbers such as Click Thru Rate (CTR) were significantly lower than the identical campaign run using Google AdWords. It would seem that Google being the preeminent search engine is better suited for the pay-per-click model. Since would be purchasers are actively using this channel to search for services and products to buy.

I asked just a few people where they would go to find products and services, all of them said Google or Yahoo. Not one said Facebook. This was not done scientifically, I just made some calls to people I know and received some honest responses. I even tried to prompt a Facebook response by asking, “Do you ever use Facebook instead of Google when you want to buy something?” The best answer to this question was “…I use Google when I want something – Facebook when I am looking for someone.”

That was enough for me. I started building my Facebook Fan Page on Saturday March 27, 2010. I used some basic FBML to build a few pages on this site: Discounts, Advertisements and My Twitter pages. Using AWEBER’s Email Marketing Software tool I set up a form to collect visitor data [Note: Windmill Networking uses Constant Contact, which also has a Facebook Page Application]. By March 30, I had 31 Fans. This was enough to get my own unique URL from Facebook (you need 25 Fans).

By the end of my first month I had 8 quotes for new business and 3 deals had closed. One of the 3 closed deals wound up being a client who has me under retainer to provide marketing services. Not a bad business strategy, huh?

What did I do to deserve all of this? Nothing but hard work with the right mind set. I set out to use Facebook as a way to network, as I would do in-person at any “real” networking event. I was going to meet people one at a time. I would take time to meet them, ask the right questions and let them know the services I provide. With Facebook I could “meet” more people in 1 hour than I could at any networking function in a 2-3 hours, plus saving gas money and entrance fees.

I searched for DDS, Dentists (or whatever vertical I wanted to sell to) and attempt to befriend them. I also joined a few groups to and tried to befriend the members.

If the friendship was accepted, I sent a personal message to introduce myself and my services, providing a link to my companies FB Fan page

If I did not get a response, I followed up within 24 hours with a very polite nudge – “Hi FB Friend’s name…did you receive my information? I really would like to see if you may have some interest in working together.” The majority responded very positively. And the ones who did not? Well, I just moved on.

When a friendship was established I sent a Thank You email and pointed them to my LinkedIn page to show them that I am a legitimate business.

I responded to every question they had via FB, or set up a time to chat with them on FB.

I removed individuals who did not respond. They don’t have to join the Fan Page, I am just looking for a response.

The only difference I have experienced using FB to network as opposed to my face-to-face encounters is the level of questions from the prospects. The questions were a great deal more direct and in depth, as all those who may have wanted to use my services and desired to know as much as they could about me before meeting. I call it the “Make Sure This Person is Truly Legit” line of questioning. With each of these experiences I thanked the person for “grilling” me. It put fears on both sides to rest.

The main aspect of networking on FB is to be as polite and open as you can. Trust still needs to be earned and nothing beats a face-to-face meeting. However, using FB as an ice-breaker seems to be my wave of the future. All but one of my new clients since March has come from the networking I have done on Facebook. Like any other tool, in the right hands it can help you build your business into something fantastic.

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