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facebook-logoWith Facebook recently overtaking MySpace as the top social networking site, it’s definitely worth taking a look at if you are in business.

According to a recent study by the Aberdeen Group, companies are using sites like Facebook to improve interactions they have with their customers. The study showed that companies using social networking sites are 17 times more likely to improve customer satisfaction than companies that don’t use them.

If you already have a profile on the site but aren’t sure how to leverage it for brand visibility, networking and gaining feedback–here are some tips for boosting your reach:

1. Take special care in filling out your profile: Take time to thoroughly complete your profile, especially making sure to include your website address and other contact information. Also fill in your activities and interests.  People appreciate this type of insight into who you are beyond the business.

2. Join and contribute to groups: Joining groups that are relevant to your niche is an easy way to reach your target market and share your knowledge.  Be sure to post helpful tips and links and to comment in the discussions.

3.  Start a group of your own: Taking the group idea up a level, why not create your own?  Be seen as a leader while forming relationships with other members who have joined.  Encourage participation and conversation and include a way for others to learn more about your business when you fill in your info as the administrator for the group.

4. Update often: This doesn’t mean you need to spend hours on Facebook, but for the time you do spend, update your status and add relevant, helpful information, photos or links to your profile. Because these updates show up through the News Feed function for others, you are creating a viral spread of information that helps create familiarity and build your brand.

5. Personalize your friend requests: It is a good idea to add a short message when making a friend request.  It helps people to remember you and it’s just a good relationship-building practice.

6. Import your blog posts: You can use the Notes application to feed your blog posts into your profile.  NetworkedBlogs is another application that is great for giving your blog exposure.  The posts you import with this app appear in others’ news feeds, adding to your expert status and credibility in your particular niche.

7. Create a Page for your business: Facebook Pages are a great option because it allows you to have a separate profile for your business.  Last week a new design was actually introduced by Facebook for them.  You can invite others to join the page, hold discussions, post relevant items and “naturally” promote your products or services. Facebook is ranked highly in the search engines, and by giving your business a page, it allows your business to rank highly as well.

8. Introduce, suggest and recommend: Introduce people you think should know each other.  Suggest and recommend resources to others.  All of these activities create community and contribute to the awareness of both you and your business.

9. Promote your events: If you are holding teleseminars, courses, live events or anything of that nature, you can create invitations for your friends to receive with all the relevant info included.  This is great for driving traffic and increasing participation.

10. Place targeted ads: “Social Ads” on Facebook are another option.  This can be a powerful way to increase awareness of your brand.  With these ads you are able to select targeted demographics for your campaigns.

You hear this all the time but it is worth repeating: it’s about building relationships, not “push” marketing.

A few things to keep in mind: make sure you never do anything that could be perceived as being “spammy.”  Take time to explore your profile’s privacy options and keep in mind how your Facebook activities may be perceived by potential clients and customers.

Have you used Facebook for networking or visibility? What were your results?  If you disagree about it being a tool for business I’d like to hear that as well.

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