Half of all Americans are now on Facebook... Are You?

Half of you reading this right now have a Facebook Account. At least that’s what recent research is showing. A January 2011 study has revealed that 51% of Americans, ages 12 and older, are using the social networking site; a jump up from 8% only three years ago. According to Facebook, over 500,000,000 people worldwide are logging on. So what does this mean for you and your business?

If over half of all Americans are on the site, your business should be too.

Social networks offer yet another opportunity for your customers to interact with you. By “liking”  your business’s page, its updates, specials and news go straight to the customer—no longer do they have to actively search out what you have to offer.

If we’d known we had offended you, we would have done something about it.

How do you know about a customer’s bad experience if they won’t return to your store? Or if your new menu is driving away diners? The fact is, a lot of the time you won’t know, and the chances of the patron returning or calling to complain is rather slim. Facebook pages, however, have become a great source of customer feedback: that spurned customer now has a convenient platform to tell you “Hey! I’m not happy with this” giving you the opportunity to respond and correct the situation in a timely manner.

If we’d known you were so thrilled, we would have kept it!

On the flip side, customers also have the opportunity to rave about something you’re doing great, or that they would like to see more of. You can also instigate this by asking your online followers for feedback—”What’s your favorite thing about our summer programming?” If they like it, they’ll be eager to tell you.

Free word-of-mouth advertising, plus some affordable targeted ad campaigns. Social networking is just that—SOCIAL. Whatever people post, like, or follow, is visible to their friends, and sometimes, to the world. This means easy, free, word-of-mouth advertising for you. If a customer has 100 Facebook friends and starts “liking” your business’s page, their 100 friends will be notified, resulting in 100 more people finding out about your company.

If word-of-mouth isn’t enough, Facebook also offers paid advertising. These ads can be targeted to a more specific audience than a Google Ad. Facebook achieves this by pairing your ad with the profiles that match your target group (based on information that users provide and display in their personal profiles). Target markets can be narrowed by location, age, gender, education, likes and interests, and more. You can even target only the people who already “like” your page. Narrowing your target group allows you to spend your advertising budget wisely—promoting to the people who are most likely to respond.

But it all comes back to your website.

Remember, if half of all Americans are on Facebook, that means there’s still another 50% who are not. Don’t ignore this group! Without a Facebook account, they are unable to access a good share of what is posted to the social network. Be sure to keep your existing website up to speed, since it is accessible to all, and continually direct consumers (both social media and not) back to your site.

Yes, social media does take time, but it can reap huge rewards for your business. By offering current, relevant information to your customers via social networking, you’re sure to develop a strong online following which can translate into a strong following in person.

Posted April 11, 2011

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