If I Care About Branding My Company, How Can I Maximize My Efforts on Facebook? 

It is important to many start up and small businesses to generate leads, and some of you are finding that you can do so on Facebook. But how long before you’re just another accounting firm, or consulting practice on Facebook? What do you do when you’re there? Now more than ever it’s critical to differentiate your business from the others just like yours cropping up on Facebook. But how do you do this, while eyeing ever-shrinking budgets, and over-tasked timelines?

First, why should you really care about branding in social media? Social Interactive Branding really allows you to achieve some pretty amazing things that were nearly impossible in traditional media, or so expensive that it might as well have been impossible. Social interactive branding offers scaling that rivals—and in some cases supersedes traditional media. You can create messaging and a campaign and have it blow up (in a good way) socially, where a yellow pages ad, or newspaper ad just never could do. In addition, Social interactive branding is trusted more than any other medium, especially when combining your website as a hub with your social channels. Why? Because your transparent, and users can see what everyone else is saying about you—in real time. Thus, they trust, and are more likely to listen. As more businesses just like yours vie for the same sets of eyeballs, It’s more important than ever to make sure that you’re hitting them with the right messaging, and carrying through your brand—visually, and through your online actions.

How can I take advantage of this?

Create Targeted Messaging that Builds Your Brand.
You can now target messages like never before with Facebook. Facebook is providing small businesses access to data that even large businesses had to pay through the nose for. Pay per click or per impression (by the 1,000s) Facebook allows you to serve up ads ala google-esque, or through news feeds, depending on users. You can quickly figure out if Facebook has your audience. The great thing about advertising on Facebook from a brand perspective? You can maintain—even build—brand equity with Facebook ads. Work with your marketing team (or provider) to develop a campaign that generates leads—but also grows and strengthens your brand. It doesn’t cost you a single cent more than brandless ads, and the benefits are immeasurable (actually, now we can measure those benefits!).

Brand Your Facebook Pages.
Historically (hah!) Facebook has been a fledgeling arena for marketing small business—focused mostly on companies that didn’t care—or couldn’t afford—to care about branding. But Facebook has now made it possible to learn about your market, market to them, and maintain your brand—all through robust page customization. Now you can love your brand AND grow your business on Facebook. A GOOD website for your company will cost you ten thousand dollars or more. A branded Facebook page costs a fraction of that, and may initially reach more people—depending on your approach. Hire a firm that can handle the marketing component—strategy and copy, the tech component—custom Facebook pages are not for the faint of heart, as well as the brand component—you need to not only look trustworthy and professional—you need to stand out from all the other “me too’s” in your market.

Service Your Customers, Based on Your Brand.
Just because social media has social in the name, doesn’t mean it can’t be YOUR next killer app. You’ve heard all the stories about big companies coming out as heros in social media, but don’t believe you can do it yourself. Why not? One of the key tenets of social media takes you beyond the first step (listening), and into the next—engagement. ENGAGE your customers and future customers. Ask them questions. Be present. Answer their questions. Provide them value your competitors may try to duplicate, but can’t. And during all of this—be aware that your brand is built—or torn down—with every interaction you have. Every comment, quirky question, sassy remark—everything—supports or erodes your brand. Get people talking about your brand online—and in social media—that means talking about something you did. Take the time, make someone happy and give them the tools (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin) to tell everyone about it!

With this in mind, know that you can use Facebook now not just for boring text ads, chatting with your buddies, and posting news updates—you can really build your brand and marketing your business—if done properly.

What challenges do you find when managing your brand or marketing your business online? Do you worry that you will lose “control” over your brand, or that you won’t be able to prove social media branding ROI?