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Friday, 13 January 2012

Is Facebook Really Going to Help Grow Your Business?

There are now more than 63 Million active users on Facebook with an average of 250,00 new registrations happening every day!

It is currently ranked No 7 in Alexa top ranked websites and every other headline seems to refer to Facebook in some context.

But what about you? Is Facebook really going to help grow your business?

Having launched myself into Facebook in September last year, I must admit even I swing back and forth on whether Facebook can seriously contribute to the growth of small businesses.

One week, several hours are spent proactively visiting groups and adding to the discussions and the next I am lucky to get a chance to click through on the email notifications that arrive in the in box.

But over the past few months, I believe that there are several points that someone needs to consider before deciding to use Facebook as a promotional tool. As I am sure anyone who has experienced Facebook will agree, it can be an absolute time-waster!

TIPS and TRICKS: 6 Points you need to consider before launching yourself in to Facebook

1. Think quality NOT quantity - Facebook is only one of many social networking sites out there. And online networking is only one of many promotional tools to use for your business. Having a presence on Facebook is desirable but not critical to your business success. Trying to do everything, all of the time usually means you end up with nothing (as well feeling a little insane at the same time!)

2. Keep Focused - It is too easy to waste hours on Facebook. The widgets, the virtual drink buying, the ranking of how hot your friends are. Remember that Facebook wastes millions of employee hours, which is fine when you are on PAY. But when you are self-employed, no one is going to pay you for the time you waste on Facebook. Know what it is you want to do and get out!

3. Contribute, don't SPAM - There is nothing worse that having someone at a networking event thrusting business cards in to everyone's hands and talking about nothing but themselves. It is boring and downright rude, so there is no need to do it online either

4. Have a website with a purpose - Many people use Facebook to drive traffic to their website, which to be honest is a pretty good objective to have. But before you start leaving your web address everywhere for all to see, what is your website offering to your visitors? Is your headline compelling enough to encourage visitors to stick around? And is your call to action strong enough to encourage visitors to take the first step to become a possible customer? There is nothing more frustrating for you than having a website with high traffic for it just to bounce straight out again, never to return. What a waste of good social networking.

5. Balance your personal life with your business persona - Remember that Facebook was originally designed for college students and that many members are there to gossip, have a bit of fun, post photos and arrange parties. Many of Facebook's widgets and wall postings reflect this. Will the photos that you posted from that night out be seen by your customers? Will that video posted on your wall be watched by an interested client?

6. Introduce yourself when inviting a friend - You wouldn't go round at a networking event poking people in the back, leaving your business card in their back pocket. If you wanted to meet someone at an event, you would introduce yourself and explain how you came to learn of them, wouldn't you? Leave poking to the college students and take the time to explain in your friend request why you would like to be friends and how you have come across their details. You will build a far stronger online network by taking a little time out and consider relationship building rather than "collecting" friends.