A question I am asked often by small business owners in my social media workshops is "how can I get lots of Facebook fans?" I go on to discuss the various recommended Facebook marketing strategies which include spending some money on Facebook ads. Many are not excited to hear that there is actually money involved in developing a strong social media presence, and much of this is due to the fact that they frequently hear "social media is free." The reality is that nothing is free, and at a minimum it will require your time which is time that could be spent serving clients or acquiring new ones. 

I am ok with small business owners wanting to be frugal; I get where they are coming from.  But here is what I do struggle with. On top of wanting to not spend money, I also often hear that these business owners don't want to connect with or solicit their friends and family.  What???  For some odd reason people feel that they are somehow imposing too much to ask their friends and family to connect to their business or share information about what they do via social media. My argument is that if these people really have your best interest in mind, they will want to help you. Furthermore, they may not really know the full scope of what you do until you connect with them and share information with them about what you do.

Please know that I am not talking about spamming people, abusing tagging functions or anything considered even remotely shady. What I am talking about is educating, informing, and influencing those who already know, like and trust you. Your friends will often be your biggest advocates online and offline. They are more likely to share your content that they find appealing because they are in your corner. And yes, it all has to be done with balance as you do not want to overwhelm your Facebook friends with posts that seem all too self serving.

A simple 3-part strategy I would recommend is:

1. Invite your friends and family to "like" your Facebook Business Fan Page. I will assume that you are using some sort of email capture with a splash page on your Fan page. If not, it's a nice way to convert fans to email subscribers.

2. Post links on your personal profile that will educae, inform, and influence your friends and family. Ideally, there would include blog posts that you have written, and press mentions (the press mentions will really "wow" people because so few know how to get them).

3. Using Facebook events and invite your friends and family to your business events that they may be interested in. This has been vey profitable for me. I simply create an event for any professional engagement that I am involved in. They key here is to not send too many, too often, or untargeted. I would not send an email to someone in Maryland (where I grew up and have many contacts) about a Chamber of Commerce event in Arizona (where I now live).

It's great to use social media to connect with new prospects (virtual strangers), but remember they still have to get to "know, like, and trust" you before those connections will turn into business. Why not start with those who are already on your side?

Here are few examples of how this has worked for me.

  • I posted a simple link on my personal Facebook profile to a website and said "hey, if anyone is interested in this let me know." A friend responded saying he was just talking to someone and she needed the service being mentioned. I got her contact info and she became a client.
  • I created a Facebook Event for a social media workshop I was doing at my local Chamber of Commerce. I shared it with my friends and one responded asking if I was open to speaking for other gorups and it led to another paid speaking opportunity, which led to another though a contact that was in the audience. 
  • On more than one occasion, I have posted special offers from my Internet Marketing Company that have led to clients engagements and referrals from friends.

If you've been on the fence about connecting with your personal sphere of influence on Facebook as it relates to your business, I hope this helps push you over the top.  In fact, I'd love to hear how it works for you.