If the feedback we received on our last article is any indication, there is significant interest among eBay and online sellers in using Facebook as a marketing channel—or even an alternative sales venue. But as eager as many merchants are to integrate the social networking site into their online businesses, there is one very real fear about doing so: annoying personal associates with business postings, and vice versa.
In Part 1 we covered some approaches to allow you to get on Facebook's prime real estate, i.e., your "friends'" news feeds. We also introduced a few apps that let you post your items on Facebook, to share or sell.
Now let's ease those aforementioned worries by discussing some dos and don'ts that will keep you in the good graces of your friends, family and fans, alike—and boost your marketing efforts at the same time.
DO give your business its own page
This one is simple enough and makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Yes, your circle of friends and family want your online store or eBay listings to do well, but they may not want to know about every new thing that's going on with your business. Does Aunt Sally really care that you've gotten your hands on a new Han Solo T-shirt and a vintage Chewbacca mug? Unless she's a "Star Wars" fanatic, probably not.
However, past buyers and fans of the movie franchise will definitely want to know about these items! So tell them on your blog, Twitter account and, yes, your Facebook page. Just make sure you have two Facebook pages: one for personal use, where you can let Aunt Sally know you loved her potato salad at the family picnic, and another for your business, where you can talk about your products and related news.
An added bonus to separating the two is that doing this will give your business a boost in search engine optimization since you'll be creating a second Web page devoted solely to your items.
CL Napolitano and her daughter Shekera Myers understood this benefit when they opted to create a Facebook page for their business, Isabella's Fate, an online store that sells children's clothing for special occasions. The women wanted a platform on which shoppers could discuss their items, and a way to make their store easier to find.
"Social networking is of huge importance for SEO and page ranking," Napolitano notes. "Our business Facebook page has a higher ranking with Google, which in turns helps our store's ranking."
Business Facebook pages that were updated about every other day had the most likes
DON'T post all day, every day
Once you create a separate Facebook page for your business, it's time to get a marketing plan in place. Our previous article discussed the type of content you should provide visitors on your Facebook page. But it's equally important to consider just how often to post that helpful information on your Wall.
Believe it or not, this is one of the most common questions entrepreneurs and businesses have when it comes to their business Facebook pages, notes Dan Zarrella, a social media expert and author of "The Social Media Marketing Book" and "The Facebook Marketing Book." He looked at more than 2,600 of the most liked Facebook pages to discover how often is too often, and if there is such a thing.
What he found was that business Facebook pages that were updated about every other day had the most likes. Businesses that had more than one update a day tended to have fewer likes—"Especially once they got past a three-posts-per-day level," he notes.
What happens if you post too often? Well, not only do you risk annoying fans, they could also "unlike" your Facebook site or hide it so that your postings don't show up in their news feeds—meaning your postings will go unread and unheard.
Of course, as with most things, there is an exception to the frequency rule. That is, it's OK to post more often if you have really important news to share with your buyers or visitors. If you don't have anything pressing to announce, or if you can wait another day or two to advertise that sale because you just posted on your Wall an hour ago, hold off. Your fans will thank you.
Not convinced there is such a thing as posting too much? Check out this Facebook thread that discusses the matter. One Facebook user flat out notes she "unliked" pages because they post too often. "Once a day is too much in my opinion," she says.
DO allow fans to post on your page
One of the best things about Facebook is it allows you to easily interact with your customers. It can serve as a venue to field questions, provide customer service, ask buyers what new items they would like you to offer—and it can be a good place to get testimonials about your professionalism and the quality of your items.
"When visitors view our Facebook page, they see our fans and other happy customers," says Napolitano of Isabella's Fate. "This makes them feel comfortable with the worrisome process of the first time you order from a new online store."
Sometimes getting satisfied customers to post their praises is easy. A past buyer may just stop by to say "thanks again" for the great buying experience you provided. Other times you'll have to initiate the conversation and ask for comments.
A good way to do this is to post a question on your Wall. For instance, you could ask shoppers to tell you which of the items they've purchased from you have been their favorites, and why. This will give you good testimonials about some of the products you offer, and it could spark a discussion about how you went the extra mile to ensure the buyer was happy with his or her purchase. Again, though, be sure to keep an eye on the comments visitors post.
This isn't to say that you should erase critical comments. A bad experience or dissatisfied customer can be a golden opportunity if you're responsive and helpful. For instance, if a buyer notes on your business page that the item they bought from you was less than stellar, be nice, apologize and see how you can make it right. This will help you win back that unhappy customer, and show fans that you're a trustworthy seller who puts a lot of effort into customer satisfaction.
DON'T get too personal
While we're on the subject of customer relations, let's discuss how much information you should put out there about yourself. It's true that a big part of building good relationships with buyers is giving them a way to contact you if they have questions, complaints, etc. And on Facebook, it's good to provide this, as well as a little history about you, your business and your products. It humanizes you as a seller and shows new customers that you're a serious merchant. So take time to fill out the About section of your business page.
Just remember, there is such a thing as giving up too much information, like your personal cell phone number, for instance. You should never offer this on your Facebook page unless you're OK with a customer—or dozens, or hundreds—calling your personal cell phone. The same goes for your personal e-mail account.
However, don't be shy about sharing other things, like what got you into your niche, how long you've been selling online, if you're an eBay Top-rated Seller, etc. And tell visitors where they can find your items by including links to your eBay listings, eBay Store, online store and/or blog, etc.
Discounts, deals and promotions give users instant gratification that they can share
DO offer exclusive Facebook promotions
A good way to reward visitors and get them to visit your store is to offer exclusive promotions on your Facebook page. Phoebe Yu, managing director of ettitude, an online store that features a variety of environmentally friendly items for the home, says offering promotions on the company's Facebook page definitely pays off.
She adds that customers happily take advantage of these offers on Facebook and sometimes share them with friends. That's the beauty of discounts, deals and promotions: They give users instant gratification that they can share! Sure, the listings, recipes and blogs you provide on your business' Wall will make visitors happy, but you'll need to read through them to really enjoy them. With deals, it's happiness at a glance. Plus, a wide array of people can take advantage of discounts, which isn't always the case with other items you might post on your Wall.
For instance, a seasoned cook might love that beef wellington or risotto recipe you had on your Facebook Wall, but a less experienced chef might see the recipe as intimidating. However, both of these cooks would likely enjoy a 10-percent discount on the next purchase they make from your cookware store.
Don't forget to run contests on Facebook, either. These are a great way to get more people to like your page. And being an online seller, we're sure you have an item or two you could offer as a prize to your 1,500th "like." Sure, it's an extra cost to you, but the gains could far outweigh that.
DON'T forget to ask visitors to become fans
Finally, ensure you're asking people to like your business on Facebook. Tell them about the benefits then include the link to your Facebook page on blog posts, business cards, your online store, eBay listings, etc. Don't forget to tell people that this is the place where they can create a dialogue with you, check out your new items and see what other people are saying about you.
"E-mail newsletters can't do [what Facebook does], as that is a one-way communication," says ettitude's Yu. "Facebook pages help to create a two-way conversation."
And it can help you gain a following.