Spindustry’s Michael Bird featured in Success Magazine!

Read the full article in Success Magazine: http://www.successmagazine.com/how-to-build-your-brand-with-facebook/PARAMS/article/1425/channel/22/

Who, What and How Often?

While you may feel the urge to jump in feet first to compete with company pages with millions of fans, the key is to take your time and develop a strategy that you can build slowly, says Michael Bird, president of Des Moines, Iowa, social media consultancy Spindustry. A large number of fans is less important than a few fully-engaged fans. “Take some time to develop your voice and to focus on the audience who will use that brand,” Bird says. For example, just because you have three product lines does not mean you automatically need three Facebook pages. Instead, determine who uses your products and create a page that focuses on them.

It is essential to figure out who this target audience is and how to communicate with those people. Are they busy moms? Single urban guys? Broke college students? No matter who your target customers are, talk to them like they’re real people. “They don’t care about your product lines or corporate language,” Bird says. “People have an inherent cynicism about the corporate veil. The whole idea behind social media is giving people a peek behind that veil. You have to be informal and authentic, and engage in a way that encourages two-way communication. People like to share things they’re passionate about, just as long as they’re sharing news they’re proud of.”

It will take trial and error, but post not only about your product news, but headlines, insider tips and contests that appeal to your target audience. “Facebook can help broaden the definition of what your company does,” Bird says. For example, an athletic shoe store might post a video about post-workout stretches—positioning the sales team as physical fitness experts, not just pushy peddlers.

Post at least once per week, but aim for several times weekly. In the initial months of your site, it helps if readers have something to look forward to—say, tips on Tuesdays and new recipes on Fridays. But it is important to stay nimble enough to spontaneously react to relevant headlines and commentary.

Rules of Engagement

Kinks and challenges will no doubt present themselves. A couple guidelines to live by include:

⇒ Embrace customer support issues. If fans post their complaints on the wall, use it as an opportunity to showcase your service team and commitment to resolving problems. “A negative message dealt with well is better than one not raised at all,” Bird says.

⇒ Remove off-the-wall wall posts with care. Truly offensive or inappropriate comments should be deleted, while those that are simply out of line ought to be responded to professionally. “If they’re making a statement of mistake, correct them and disengage,” Bird advises, but deleting is a stickier matter. “You potentially break the authentication of your site if you delete a post,” he says. A good rule of thumb is that if the comment were made aloud in a town hall meeting, would the police escort the messenger out? “If the answer is yes, deleting is appropriate,” Bird says.

Other Brand-Building Facebook Ideas:

Give your CEO a high profile. This person should have his or her own active Facebook page, complete with an updated profile picture, Abernethy says. “Gone are the days of the elusive CEO,” she says. “People want to meet the people behind the company.”

Worried your business is too boring for Facebook? Profile your employees, customers or partners. Post a video of your team or manufacturing facility.

If you post a poll to select your next product, actually launch that product.

When it comes to coupons, post only the killer deals. “This is not where you post coupons with all the asterisks and exceptions,” Bird says. “This is where you make people say, ‘That’s insane—how do they do that?’ It’s a great way to get people to hit the ‘like’ button.”

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