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May 18, 2012

How to Use Facebook as a Free Marketing Tool

By Julie Griffin, Contributing Writer

An article published by Enterprise Apps Today explains “Ten Ways Social Media is Changing Sales and CRM.” But, instead of applying these observations to social media in general, I thought it would be interesting to specifically apply Facebook’s (News - Alert) free services to each of their observations.

Facebook has been criticized for its ineffective mobile marketing and until the company demonstrates better ROI, I wouldn’t recommend investing in their company’s ad tools, which is a paid service. Also, Facebook has regulations that it places on the amount of friend solicitations and posts placed on other pages. So, let’s take a look at how businesses can use Facebook as a marketing tool using the 10 observations listed in the Enterprise article.

  1. The article says, “Social CRM can help you target your market to key segments.” Because of the above-named limitations, let’s use the example of a business’s Facebook page. You could monitor what people post on your page, the articles, and videos that people like and maybe gauge the activities from friends’ pages to see if you can identify any patterns. 
  2. “Social media monitoring can help you uncover potential customers and find out which customers are influencers.” If you have a local clothing boutique, you can see what articles of clothing people are fans of, and also spot potential customers based on brands that are similar to yours.
  3. “Social CRM can help you monitor what customers are saying about your brand and your products (for better or worse).” This is one trend that continues to grow as a consumer favorite, as is seen with sites like; however, if we are specifically focusing on Facebook, perhaps you should encourage people to write their complaints about your products and wait before defending your brand. However, it’s not often that people use Facebook as a means to complain about things, especially on that particular business’s page because everyone knows that it is almost as easy to block someone as it is to post. 
  4. “Social media can be a wonderful customer service tool — especially for countering negative comments.” Yes, but you would have to be very active at maintaining your account, and if you do not have a history of allowing people to post comments freely, it’s unlikely that they will. Facebook users are relatively open and use real names and pictures, as well, so I wouldn’t think that people would be completely honest about complaining on your personal page.
  5. “Social networks are like having a free focus group.” This is probably an area in which using Facebook for its free services is the most beneficial. It’s relatively easy to find groups in which you share a common target location or sell similar products. Make friends or even start a group and invite others to join.
  6. “Social media can build community and lead to new opportunities.” Facebook’s “event” feature could come in handy here. If you are invited to an event, you can easily see what other people or businesses will be there and take advantage of the networking opportunity. Also, you can seek out businesses like yours and make new groups that are focused on something specific.
  7. “Social media can be a great promotion and sales tool.” This can be tricky if you are restricted to the free services offered by Facebook. This would typically mean that you are allowed to post these events freely on your own post, and if you have an arrangement with other people, trade posts with them as well. Going down the friends list and posting upcoming sales or even posting at random can result in restricted access of your account for a certain amount of time. 
  8. “Social media can help establish you as an expert people want to buy from.” If you make handcrafted jewelry, for example, you could regularly contribute your opinion about certain things on other posts, and might eventually develop a rapport. 
  9. “Use Facebook to let customers get to know your business and the people behind it.” This is the only observation that mentions Facebook specifically. Because Facebook is an amazing tool to upload media and tell stories, this is a great example of how to use Facebook as a free marketing tool. 
  10. “Use YouTube (News - Alert) to educate your customers.” This is a great idea, and since Facebook allows you to post videos, just like blogs, it can link potential customers to other resources about your brand. People tend to respond more to videos and DIY videos are usually very successful.

If the user is willing to put in the time and be patient enough to work around certain restrictions, there could be ways to use Facebook as a marketing tool. Because there are many aspects about the services that are free, it’s up to the user to build networking groups and stay tuned in to what your targeted demographic is telling you.

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin
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