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(eM+C)—Facebook is the most popular social media platform, with 955 million active users. For this reason, many companies are trying to tap into the natural reserve of potential consumers the social media site has to offer. However, in order to reach this audience, marketers have to adopt particular strategies. Here are four tips on how to do so:

1. Create awareness. Social connections are growing in number as we speak. That’s why Facebook is very much a game of numbers and leveraging this aspect of the social network is key to an effective Facebook strategy for your business. The convenient aspect about using Facebook for your business, besides its cost-effective characteristic, is that you don’t have to put efforts into reaching a large number of people directly themselves. Instead, the focus can be placed on content quality.

As long as your content is considered valuable by users, the information will spread like wildfire and new products and services can be advertised to a larger audience than initially intended. For instance, sharing videos is a common practice on Facebook, but the main prerequisite for that to happen is creating interesting videos that people will want to share.

2. Increase sales. After creating awareness and attracting people to your Facebook page, rewarding them is a strategic step to increase sales. The best way to do this is to give them special offers, such as coupons and discounts. Also, engaging with users through polls or contests and offering special prizes as a result of their involvement will catch their attention and attract more people to your page, thus increasing the potential for making sales.

Furthermore, making your brand’s Facebook page easily connected to your other online presences (e.g., website, link, additional social media platforms) will help your fans easily navigate between all of your online platforms as well as find out more about you and potentially make a purchase. Facebook can thus become the nexus of other platforms where purchases can be made as well.

3. Customer service. Facebook represents an ideal environment for enhancing your customer service efforts. The social media site enables users to submit comments and feedback to brands, and they expect a prompt response. On the flip side, brands can ask questions directly to their customers to find out what they like or dislike in a particular product or how they would improve an aspect of their business.

Facebook represents a simple and cost-effective way for companies to engage with their customers and show them that they’re willing to listen to them and answer their needs. When consumers feel they can reach a company directly and easily, they tend to become more interested and loyal to that brand. When an issue becomes too complicated to be solved on the spot, you can offer additional contact details (e.g., website address, email address, phone number). The point is to show that you’re ready to listen and respond.

4. Market research. With its extensive user base, Facebook represents the best environment for running market research. There are many different ways through which businesses can use Facebook in their market research strategies. Most of the action, though, does take place on a company’s Facebook page, where employees can interact with customers directly. One easy method to acquire particular information is to post a question directly on your page so that people visiting the page cannot miss it and fans can see it appear in their news feeds as well. Polls and surveys are also efficient tools for running market research on Facebook. Offering some sort of incentive for taking part in market research can greatly increase the number of participants and contribute towards obtaining more insightful results.

Steve Nicholls is the author of the best-selling book “Social Media in Business,” as well as an international speaker and social media strategist.

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