Face your audience – Facebook do!

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By Caroline Williams, CEO Norfolk Chamber of Commerce

Having, more than once, made the case for digital communications as vital for small and medium-sized businesses, I’m excited to see one of the world’s leading online media acknowledge that smaller businesses are vital customers for them.

Sheryl Sandberg, chief operations officer of Facebook, was in Ireland recently to launch their European platform to connect businesses with Facebook executives to improve the company’s offering to small business. Interestingly she was there in person, actively pitching in front of an audience of business people, clearly demonstrating that, no matter how big your business, you can never underestimate the importance of face-to-face contact with your existing and potential customers.

For all the technology and interactivity, that social media brings, with Facebook as a great example, they are still media channels. To use them effectively to promote your business you still need to create the message. That means you still have to apply some fundamental rules of advertising. You need to ask yourself ‘who you’re trying to reach?’ and ‘what you want to achieve; is it a sale, or a contact, or to drive them to your website?’ Answering those questions will allow you to develop the right combination of words and pictures to convey your message. The same disciplines you’d apply in planning any marketing campaign.

However, remember too that the social media audience is massive. And it’s 24/7. Facebook claim 33,000,000 UK users every month, and 24,000,000 of them visit the site every day.

Quite simply, the social media are a way to create an unprecedented level of awareness for your brand, and you don’t have to be big to do it. Embrace them, not to the exclusion of other media, but as a vital part of integrated marketing.

To be truly integrated, of course, you’ll need to ensure that you always maintain face-to-face to contact with your customers. We encourage and endorse that at Norfolk Chamber of Commerce. And now it seems Facebook do too!