Being All You Can Be.. on facebook

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It’s surprising to me how many new clients I interact with that don’t have even the most basic presence in social media, especially on facebook.

Facebook has become ubiquitous to the point of comedy. Dogs have facebook pages. Damn good ones. Why shouldn’t a 501c3 looking to raise money for underserved kids have one? In fact, what’s your excuse for NOT having a facebook page?

Truth be told, a facebook page may not help you raise millions of dollars (and then again, it might) but it will definitely help you tell your story to a broad audience, help your SEO and connect directly with prospective customers, donors or evangelists-to-be.

Here are some tips for any organization starting their own facebook page:

1. If you’re a business, start a business page, not a friend page. The facebook Help Page should give you a ton of answers on this and more.

2. Choose and post an avatar that identifies your brand with one glance. It can be your logo, your product or similar image that is instantly understandable to a new visitor.

Examples of BAD avatars include: your CEO (he/she is not the company); your corporate HQ (unless your building was designed by Frank Gehry or Santiago Calatrava, it probably looks like every other building in town and is not unique); any other image that does not scream “Here’s Who We Are!”

3. Under the Info tab, fill in all the fields you can, including your location and zip code (this is how facebook helps target ads), and insert your boiler plate or a pair of descriptive sentences about what you are, including your goals and vision. Make people want to keep up with you.

4. Have content ready to populate the page. Nothing is more pathetic than a facebook page with one post – or fewer. They’re like old clunker cars waiting to be hauled to the junkyard. And empty facebook pages tell visitors “stay away from these people; they don’t know what they’re doing!”

5. Make your facebook page point back to your website. Put your URL in your info section and make it your first post. Make subsequent posts link back to other website content. When you’re running light on new content (and you’ll hit a quiet week now and then) post something like “Have you visited our website?” and post your URL. And while we’re at it, make sure your website doesn’t suck. Just like you wouldn’t want people coming to your home and find something that looks like it’s been abandoned, you don’t want your website to scream “foreclosure!” Your facebook page should be an extension of your website, not a replacement for it.

6. Put contact information on your facebook page, to let people know how to find you in the real world. Funnel potential customers or donors to a place where they can talk to a real human being, and spend their money on you and what you’re offering.

7. Update once a day, and not more. This is my cardinal rule for new users. Overposting is like a party guest who won’t stop talking about himself. You won’t be able to keep the quality of your posts high, which is critical in the early days of building an audience. I also recommend staggering your posts so you have a nice steady stream of information flowing to your friends and followers. Personally, I’d rather get one piece of good content from each of my friends each day, as opposed to a stream that runs fast one day and then disappears.

8. Interact. Check out what your friends and followers are saying and comment on their posts. But be careful not to overdo it, lest you turn people off (see 7, above).

Social media can be daunting. Some people are downright frightened of the prospect of sharing freely online. But there’s nothing to fear, if you start slowly and work up your pace. To paraphrase a good friend of mine: “you can’t ride the wave until you dip in your toe.”

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