Contractors guide to Facebook

Facebook must surely be the greatest social media success story of them all. As of August 2010, a staggering 45% of the UK population now has a Facebook profile, some 25m UK members in total – part of more than 400m active users worldwide.

Historically it did start out as simply a personal networking site, but more and more now, businesses of all types are setting up their own Facebook profiles as well. Even to the extent that companies are no longer listing their web addresses on adverts, but instead asking people to join them on Facebook! Facebook is totally free to sign up to and with the capacity of people registered with the site, how can you not take part?

According to Facebook’s own statistics more than 1.5 million local businesses have active pages on Facebook, and more than 20 million people become ‘fans’ of those pages each day. For contractors and business owners, this means Facebook is definitely a way to spread your company’s message, build community and loyalty amongst your customers, and ultimately increase your sales.

Setting up your Facebook business page
Even if you have a personal Facebook profile, it is best to set up a separate one for your business. It would be unprofessional to try to mix a business page and a personal page – as the two are totally separate.

The key is for clients, prospects and the Facebook community as a whole to see your business in the most positive light possible. By keeping your business and personal information separate, building your pages professionally, and posting 'relevant' content your audience will want to read, you can create powerful relationships on Facebook that positively impact your company’s bottom line.

The steps to setting up your own Business page are easy:

  • Ensure you have a personal Facebook profile – if you don’t then register online for free.
  • You must use your own personal Facebook profile, or a registered user of Facebook to set up your Business page – You need to allocate an ‘administrator’ for the site, the person who is going to update your page.
  • You can add as many admin users as you would like for your business page, we recommend you keep it to one or two people. Should you want a personal profile page that does not contain any of your own personal information (pictures, post etc) then sign up again…there is no rule that says you cannot have two accounts, you would just require two separate email addresses, that way you have a completely blank personal profile that can be used by anyone in the future.
  • Click on the Create a page link – this can be found on the Facebook homepage or in the ‘help’ section of the site.
  • Ensure to make your business page ‘public’ by clicking this option in your settings, by doing so this ensures anyone can find your page.

Once your page is set up, we recommend customising your page by adding various applications. Doing so will make your business page a lot more user friendly. The basic Facebook applications available when creating your business page are as follows, however you can add more should you want to:

  • Discussion Board: Enables your fans to get their ideas out into the open. Discussion boards let you know exactly what your fans and customers think and want.
  • Events: Promote your gatherings or let people know about upcoming business events.
  • Notes: Share your business news or engage your fans through written entries.
  • Photos: Upload photos to your page promoting your products or business service. This is also where you can upload your company logo and tag this as your 'profile picture'.
  • Reviews: Fans and customers can leave honest opinions about your business.
  • Video: A high-quality video platform - this is useful for demonstration.
  • Wall: The Wall is an open forum for your fans or friends to leave comments, thoughts, and ideas about you on your Page or Profile.

You can remove and edit the features of each application as you see fit. Each tab has an ‘edit’ button visible only to the admin user.

You control what you would like users to see and the posts included, your individual posts on Facebook are not ranked in Google searches (at least not yet), but your profile is ranked. How you name your business page is critical for ranking purposes, and it’s also a good idea to tag some keywords onto the names well. For example, if you are a business owner you should name your page in such a way that there’s no question what your company does, as in ‘Acme Corporation, Widget Supplier and Manufacturer.’

Once you are happy with the appearance of your business page, search for as many people as you can who may be interested in your services, or who might know someone that is – and add them as friends.

Generating more business ‘friends’
But of course, you’re going to want to cast your net wider than just people you already know, so how do you do that? Firstly, try to include your Facebook logo and link wherever possible.

Add the link of your Facebook business page to your email auto-signature, in the same way that you would to promote your web address. This might look a little untidy in the early days, but once you have 25 ‘friends’ of your business you can get what is known as a ‘vanity URL’ – which is basically www.facebook.com/yourbusinessname.

Add your Facebook logo to your website and also consider syncing your Facebook page to your Twitter account, that way fans of your Twitter will receive notices on updates to your Facebook page, and if they haven’t already, will be more intrigued to join.

Join other communities similar to yours; join in on discussions and groups, that way people, if interested, by your comments will be interested in you. Once people visit your page they can then add you as a friend and your ‘fan base’ will start to expand.

Adding regular updates to your page will give greater appeal to your page, should you leave business information, contact details etc blank your page will not appear legit and people will not be interested. Remember to focus on business activities, such as ‘working with xxxx company on a web site redesign.’

Try recommending useful articles, links to presentations, websites and valuable resources that may interest your customers and prospects, this will gain you credibility as someone who is a useful resource and not just a sales man or person. Much of this will be the same information that you might post on Twitter as well, so it won’t take up all your time!

Let people know about anything that happens with your business - such as new products or services you’re offering, any trade shows you might be attending, any new developments you want people to know about, or anything related to the business as a whole. People read those posts and monitor what you are doing or offering and they then invite others to become friends.

Keywords are another important way in which you can make sure your Facebook page is found. Think of the keywords you want to be listed under and work them into your tagline or title. This markets your profile to the world and helps you go beyond just building a Facebook community – as now you’re opening your company up to a bigger community outside of Facebook.

One thing to remember....People joining your page can be from any part of the country, so should someone be interested in your services make sure to find out where they are and make it clear you are purely UK based.

Your business page should infuse part of your personality along with the vision for your business or information about what you want for your future, remember you never know who will want to be your 'fan' or friend. 

Also to keep up to date with regular Contractor news, along with hints and tips by following SJD Accountancy on Twitter here @sjdaccountancy 

You may find the following pages useful: 

We hope you have found the above information useful. If you have any questions about contracting or would like any further advice please call our new business team on 01442 275789 or email newbusiness@sjdaccountancy.com.

Also, if you havent done so already, why not join us on Facebook and follow us on Google+ for all the latest contractor news, views, debates and competitions.

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SJD Accountancy are the UK's largest specialist provider of fixed fee, Limited company accountancy services to contractors; we've been acting for contractors across the UK since 1992 and have more than 15,000 clients.

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If you have any questions about contracting or would like any further advice please call our new business team on 01442 275789 or email: newbusiness@sjdaccountancy.com. Our new business team is open Monday to Thursday (8am to 8pm), Friday (8am to 7pm) and Saturday (10am to 4pm)

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