Building an online presence for your business requires more than just a website. Social networking has become many users’ first step in looking for businesses online. In fact, visits to social networking sites like Facebook overtook search engine use for the first time in the UK last year, and the same thing is poised to happen in the United States as well. Increasingly, people are looking to their friends and extended networks to see what products they use and services they like, rather than just searching for keywords and hoping for the best.
And really it makes sense. Testimonials and word of mouth have always been very powerful advertising tools. Every restaurant out there advertises itself as the best, but a good recommendation from a friend whose opinion you trust does more to sway your opinion than all the advertising in the world. That’s why having a presence on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube is important. It gives your customers the opportunity to connect with you and do some of your marketing for you.
Facebook offers businesses a chance to connect to their customers, and allows customers to provide feedback on your products and services, and have conversations with one another. The versatility of Facebook layouts gives you virtually unlimited freedom to design a layout that is creative, informative, and encourages your customers to visit and recommend you often. The flipside of that freedom is that a poorly-designed, jumbled, or even boring layout can confuse customers or even turn them off, especially if your competition has taken full advantage of the possibilities of Facebook design. If you want your businesses custom Facebook page done well, as with many business decisions, it’s best to hire a professional.
When all is said and done, you want a custom well-designed Facebook page to do three things: provide information, encourage conversation, and represent your business.
The most important thing for your Facebook page to do is provide the information that your potential customers are looking for: what products you offer, what kind of services you provide, where you are located, what area you serve, what your hours of operation are, and how you get in touch with someone if they need more personalized attention. You probably already have this information on your website, but it is worth duplicating on your Facebook page, because search engines don’t return Facebook results, and searching on Facebook doesn’t return web results. Facebook is like its own alternate universe, so it’s worth the time to duplicate all of the basic information about your business on your Facebook page.
Facebook is first and foremost a tool for people to connect with one another, and share information and opinions. Not only can people have short term, one-on-one conversations, they can also have conversations that spread across their extended networks, lasting for days, weeks, or even months as they expand. Your Facebook page should encourage dialogue with your customers, and encourage your customers to connect with one another. Show off your expertise by posting your opinions on news and events going on in your industry or in your company. Encourage your customers to post to your wall by responding to their questions or comments (when its appropriate, of course). Encourage them to stay connected by offering Facebook-only sales, specials, or coupons. This kind of interaction gives your business a face and a personality for your customers to connect to.
Part of that personality is reflected in the layout of your Facebook page. The pictures, status updates, and wall posts that you put up will tell your customers, even at an intuitive level, who your business is, and therefore whether they want to do business with you. It is important that your posts, photos, and updates are integrated with the overall layout of your page in order to give your customers the best and most accurate idea of your company’s image. If you own a boutique bakery or a dog grooming business, for example, a clever and lighthearted layout will let your customers know how much fun you are. If you operate a law firm or financial advisory, a more sophisticated layout will give you that professional image. Basically, you want your layout to reflect both your businesses image, and the clientele that you want to attract.
If putting together a Facebook layout that does all of that seems like a daunting task, don’t panic. You are not a web designer, so putting together a Facebook page that tells your customers who you are and how to connect to you isn’t obvious. You have two options: you can either spend hours and possibly days trying to poke and tweak your Facebook into something that uniquely reflects your business and your expertise, or you can hire a professional like the ones at Coalition Technologies to do it for you, while you focus on doing your job.