Facebook as a marketing tool

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Photo by Marcopako on Flickr used under creative commons licence

What is Facebook? I’m sure most people are aware of and use Facebook regularly but here is a little recap. Facebook describes themselves as a way to help you connect and share with the people in your life. Unlike Twitter Facebook operates in closed networks. Generally most people on the social network have private profiles and can only interact with others if they have been accepted as a Facebook friend.

The rules are slightly different for organisations – organisations can set up a Facebook page which is public, and anyone can view it. Individuals can like an organisations page and anything the organisation posts will appear in their Facebook feed, along with posts from their friends.

Facebook’s strengths lie in its numbers. More than 1.26 billion people are on Facebook and more than 757 million log on daily.  Facebook is also very visually focused – photos and videos generally the most common content uploaded to the site.

For small organisations, one of Facebook’s biggest advantages the ability to create a Facebook page. Websites can be costly to develop and maintain, while a Facebook page is simple and low cost. Organisations can run competitions, offer deals, post photos and update information on Facebook with minimal staff training. It provides business who previously didn’t have the capabilities to host a website to share information with their customers and the general public electronically.

So what about large organisations? I work for a large organisation but we are fairly new to Facebook. We are still in a bit of a learning curve about how to promote our organisation through our Facebook page.

Our Facebook page is used to inform our members of our policy, news and activities. We post two news articles from our internal news publication a day – this includes not just articles about our organisation but national, international and political news articles. We also post all media releases, audios and video grabs we issue as well as photos from events.

The Queensland Federal Police Facebook page is a great example of how an organisation can promote their organisation.

They recommend having a well thought out communication policy, which states clearly the relationship you expect to have with your audience – no swearing, etc. To build an audience on Facebook they recommend posting both the hard hitting news and the soft news. For example Queensland police asked for help solving a homicide case in a Facebook post, but later the same day they posted police officers stopping traffic to assist ducks. They also post news articles, both the good and the bad, and use humour to engage with their audience.

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