We know that Americans are increasingly active on social networking sites, but how about older Americans? The Pew Internet and American Life Project reports: “As of February 2012, one third (34%) of internet users ages 65 and older use social networking sites such as Facebook, and 18% do so on a typical day. Among the G.I. Generation population (adults who are currently ages 76 and older), 20% of the internet users in that cohort use social networking sites and 8% do so on a typical day. Among all adult internet users, 66% use social networking sites, and 48% use them on a typical day.”
So everyone from young affluents to Grandma and Grandpa have found Facebook. How to utilize social sites effectively is on everyone’s mind these days, and most advisors can readily understand how to use a site like LinkedIn for business contacts. But what about Facebook? Does a site that traditionally features family pictures and silly contests really help you promote yourself and your services?
The Smart Way to Use Facebook
The answer is yes, if you are smart about it. The baby boom generation, and their parents, are using Facebook every day, so you should go to where your demographic is. But let’s talk about the smartest way to do it, and that is through a Facebook Business Page.
For many users the difference between a profile and a page can be really confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. Think of it this way: Your profile is for you as a person, and your page is for you as a business. Since you could have many businesses, you can also have many pages. But, since you can’t be two people – you only get one profile. It is also helpful to remember that people “friend” your profile but “like” your page.
Your profile is a place to interact on a personal level while your page is a place to interact on a professional level. Make sense? A business page is easy to set up. (View a simple FMG Suite training video to walk you through it here.) And once you have it all set up, here are three ways to make it really work for you:
1. Invite Page Visitors to Your Website
Your website should be your interactive marketing hub, where you seriously get down to business, with videos, articles, calculators and online presentations. Your Facebook Business Page should invite visitors back to your website by offering content links that are viewed on the website.
In order to see a great business page in action, take a look at the Facebook page for Financial Planning Magazine. Any Facebook user who “likes” this page will receive any new posts in their newsfeed. Because they choose to follow Financial Planning, they are interested in the information and more likely to interact and comment on it when they see it. Financial Planning is consistently posting content that links back to their website. This is a great strategy to move Facebook users toward becoming website consumers.
2. Learn to Speak the Language
If you wanted to do business in Germany, it would be best if you could speak German; we get this intuitively. However, many professionals try to communicate on Facebook in the language of other business-oriented networks like LinkedIn. This won’t be as effective.
In many ways Facebook is a casual visual network and its language is photos and videos. So, as much as possible, make your posts visually appealing. Share infographics, videos, and short articles from your website instead of long blog posts and extremely detailed analysis.
3. Let Your Fun Out
Facebook is a casual network, and it provides you with an opportunity to showcase your business- casual side. One great way to do this is to post pictures of your company working, playing, and serving in the community. For example, last Thanksgiving our FMG Team cooked dinner for homeless kids at the Monarch school in San Diego. It was a great time. We put together a short video of the day’s activities and shared it socially on our Facebook business page. What a great way for our followers to see a different side of our business! Just to give you an idea of what you can do (and to give you a chance to see some really cute kids) you can take a look at the video that we put together.
At the end of the day, nearly half of Americans are using Facebook. That’s significant! If you want to successfully reach them, you need to follow the three principals of Facebook business page success. Start by encouraging page visitors to come to your website. Don’t forget to speak the language with images and videos. And finally, have some fun doing it.
Craig Faulkner is CEO of FMGSuite, a company dedicated to creating digital marketing tools for today's financial professional. For more ways to make the most of your marketing efforts, check out his free online video course, TheArtofDigitalMarketing. You can also follow him @fmgsuite on Twitter.