Facebook has been growing at an enormous rate, pretty much since it’s inception all the way back in 2004, but over the last few years, it’s really become a giant, and this is important to understand as a business who’s trying to market itself online. As you can see by this image here, Facebook is competing with Google in terms of visitors/users, and is currently the #2 most popular website in the world! (and has been for quite some time now…)
The importance of Facebook as an online viral marketing platform for any local, or even nationwide business should not be understated by any means. The social and communal nature of the way Facebook users interact on the platform makes it an extremely valuable addition to any company’s online marketing strategy. Obviously this is the case for larger companies, and in their case it’s quite often about branding, and brand recognition than it is about getting direct customers and sales from Facebook itself.
For small and local businesses though, the community aspect of using Facebook as a marketing platform can be very powerful. Not only that, but it’s basically a free form of advertising your business to your local community too. It’s true word of mouth marketing, with an online twist.
Here’s a simple strategy as an example, that I can give away for any local business to apply right now, which can really help to improve your word of mouth marketing, and grow your business with really not much effort on your part. Now, this won’t work for all business types, but for some, it can be EXTREMELY powerful. And even better, it’s free promotion, and takes very little of your time!!
So, assuming that you already have a personal Facebook account (who doesn’t these days), and that your service is applicable to this technique, what you want to do to start with, is dig through and find out which people on your friends list are really popular, and have a large group of friends in their account (people with 1000-2000 friends minimum would be the best if possible).
List all of these people down in a notepad or text file on your computer.
Note – try to choose people for your list, that you actually know in real life, and are on at least decent terms with, because the more you can communicate with them, and the more receptive they are to your communication via Facebook, the better. (I don’t suggest using this method if you don’t really know the person other than via Facebook, though you have to use your own judgement on this one)
So now you have your list, basically what you want to do, is go and post a message on each one of your popular friend’s wall’s (you’ll want to space this out by several days most likely, because there will be related social circles – you don’t want it looking super duper spammy). You want to do this at a good time of day, when everyone is more likely to be milling around, and be logged onto Facebook, so probably early evening, night-time is your best choice. Sunday evening/night would be a winner I imagine aswell.
Depending on what type of service/industry you are involved with, you’ll want to vary it, but here’s the basic idea as an example, pretending I was a hairdresser:
Posting on popular friend’s wall:
“Hey NAME, you might be interested in this. As you probably know, I run a __________ Business (link to your business FB page). At the moment we’re getting our name out there a bit by giving away a free professional hair cut with styling, including colouring, and highlighting. I’m choosing a few people from my Facebook account, and I decided to choose you as one of the people 🙂 If you like the sound of that, please help me out, by liking and starting a conversation with me by commenting to this below. I’d also like to extend a 15% discount to any of your friends, if they wanted all they have to do is mention your name and the discount when they come in, and it’s done! 🙂“
Now sure, you may be thinking this is a little spammy, and it is in a way, but it’s also giving something cool away to someone, you already know them to some degree, and you’re being upfront about the fact you’re trying to grow your local business by giving them something cool and telling them about it on Facebook.
Depending on how close you are, of course, you could either let them know by talking and asking them about it first, or you could message them privately first on FB to let them know, and ask them what they think about it…
The combination of getting other eyeballs everytime your popular friend comments on your promo wall post, PLUS the fact that you’ve mentioned you’ll give their friends a discount, can work out to be a VERY powerful viral marketing tool, and if done properly and for the right kind of business, could have positive affects on your numbers of new customers, for months if not years down the road.
Now also I need to mention, of course you’ll need to work out the numbers, in terms of what’s viable for you to give away as a promotional tool, and how many, etc, you can afford to give away. Also the % that you’re giving as a discount would be something you’d want to figure out in terms of what’s still worth your while to get a new customer. Remember though, provided your service is good, the lifetime value of a customer (including the new customer referrals they’ll potentially bring you) is much greater than them just coming in to use your service or buy your product just once.
You get the idea though, as long as you’re not losing money on this, the power of the viral aspect of it is absolutely HUGE, and so definitely worth experimenting with at the very least. Also, this can be done over and over again, think about doing friends Facebook accounts (who have different networks) etc…
So I hope that was helpful, and even if it’s maybe a little bit too bold or “spammy” for your taste, hopefully it’s at least given you some cool ideas about how Facebook can be used as a powerful viral marketing tool to increase the growth of your business.