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Using Facebook to grow your childbirth-based business: this is the second in a four-part series on using current technologies to market and grow your business. Next quarter: websites.

What is Facebook?

Facebook is a social networking site that allows you to connect with your friends and business associates. This sounds rather simple and innocent, so you might be wondering what the big fuss is all about. Each person or entity has a wall. On this wall they can share thoughts, quotes, rants, photos and links. When you "friend" (a.k.a. befriend) people, they can see your wall and you can see their walls. All of your friends' updates will show up live in your news stream.

Facebook usage in the 18-35 age group has risen tremendously in recent years--the perfect demographic for businesses based in childbearing. This includes mobile users, 30% of whom have accessed social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. In fact, of the 400 million active users on Facebook, 50% log on every day, and the mobile users are twice as active as the non-mobile users. Since Facebook is more a social outlet for the average user, they are more willing to receive information about pregnancy than they might be in social media like LinkedIn, where the primary purpose is for professional networking.

Signing Up for Facebook

To get an account on Facebook, you simply need an email account. If you have a phone number, it is easier to verify that you are a real person. This will allow you to sign in more easily. Since Facebook is for people, sign in with your professional name. Some legal examples include:

Robin Weiss

Robin Elise Weiss

You will also note that there are technically illegal, per Facebook's terms of service, names like: Robin Weiss Doula, where I list Weiss as my middle or maiden name and Doula as my last name. While these are technically reviewed by Facebook, I've not seen anyone's profile removed for this violation.

Don't fret about your business name. It will be used in an area called Pages. Pages are designed specifically to showcase a product, service or website. This is where your business time will be spent.

(ICEA offers an online tutorial in signing up for Facebook, including a step-by-step photo guide. http://icea.org/facebook/)

Basic Facebook

The basics of Facebook are straightforward. You sign up and you can search for friends by name or email address. This generates a request to that person and you will have to wait to be approved by your friend. During this time, you can usually send a message, but cannot see your friend's wall or information, except what they have designated as public. Once you get a few friends, Facebook will suggest friends to you based on mutually held associations between you and other friends. For example, if you and another friend both went to the same college, Facebook might begin suggesting friendships with other alumni of that college.

On your wall, you will see what your friends are doing. This will include status updates, photos, and what pages and applications that they like or join. You can go in and edit your settings to avoid seeing various games and applications as your friends add them. You will also have your statuses and information posted on your friends' streams in a similar manner. This is why it is very important to watch what you say and check your privacy settings. The basic rule is that you should consider that nothing on Facebook is private.

Keeping in mind that you are considering this for a business, you will want to decide which friends to add and which friends you ignore. (If you hit ignore, the other person is not notified.) This is true once people start sending you friend requests. You will need to decide whether to add clients at all. Some childbirth educators and doulas add every person they know or have ever taught, while others urge restraint and suggest that you add them after the birth or postpartum period. Adding them at some point is good for business--word of mouth moves even faster on Facebook!

You can also add status updates. This can be something as trivial as what you are doing at the moment (I'm eating a great peach!) to a quote or even a business note. You can update this as often as you wish, but remember that if you become annoying, your friends will "hide" your updates, you won't know, and your business won't be growing as it could!

How to Use Facebook for Your Business

The Page is really your best Facebook friend. Here you create a specific page of information about your classes or services. It can also be used for products. This allows you to have a dynamic, mini-website dedicated to your business.

At your page you can add events, send out invites, and keep tallies of RSVPs! You can add photos to the page as well to make it look personal and attractive. This photo can be your logo or just an image that you like. Since it can be changed often, you don't need to worry much about your selection --though branding can be powerful if you have already established a brand for yourself.

Once on your page people can "like" your page. This means that your page's status updates will show on their walls. The really nice thing is that anyone can "like" your page, without approval, and they do not have to be your friend. And as a bonus, whenever someone "likes" your page, all of his or her friends will see a message in their feeds saying, "Jane Doe likes--," giving them an opportunity to click on the link to your page, where they may also decide to "like" it. This allows your information to spread virally or quickly. Liking your business page doesn't allow a user to see your personal profile page.

Things that you can add to your business page include:

* Contact information (online and off)

* Schedule

* Product information

* Testimonials

* Photos

Your status line will be used to alert people to information that is important, be it a news article on a relevant topic or a famous quote. You can ask a question to start a dialogue. You can also simply say nothing. There is a fine line between not updating enough and updating too frequently. Not enough and people don't have your business in front of their eyes and in their minds--too frequently and they ignore what you are saying, or worse, "hide" you from their feeds. Facebook will send you a statement every week via email letting you know how many new likes you have this week versus last week, as well as some information about their rating of your interaction with your audience.

Once you hit 25 "likes" you can apply for a user name by going to: http://facebook.com/username/

This will walk you through the process of securing your own Facebook URL.

Facebook can be a great tool to stay connected, both personally and professionally. It is a great place to help you stay in touch with other childbirth educators and doulas, as well as a place to advertise your business--for free.

Facebook Resources

Facebook and Professional Networking. http://jobsearch.about. com/od/networking/a/facebook.htm Last accessed June 4, 2010.

Facebook and Twitter Access via Mobile Browser Grows by Triple-Digits in the Past Year. ComScore Press Release. March 3, 2010.

Facebook Terminology

Page: A public place usually used for a business, website, etc., that functions like a personal wall, usually without privacy, meaning that anyone can "like" or follow the page.

Feed/Stream: This is the listing of all of your friends' updates, including pages, photos, etc.

Like: This is how you follow a business, entity or profile page, which is different in name than a personal page. These are public, but to see them in your stream you must "like" them. "Like" recently replaced the "Become a Fan" terminology.

Friend: This allows you to see the user's information and wall items, including photos.

De-friend: To remove someone from your friends list, which means you will not be able to see their updates, photos, notes, etc.

Wall: Area of a user's page where he or she writes and their friends write notes, comments and links.

Applications/Games: There are a great number of games or programs that run quizzes, suggest all manner of items from baby names to the film you are most like.

Hide: The ability to remove applications or friends from your feed

10 Pages You Should Like on Facebook

http://facebook.com/iceapage/

http://www.facebook.com/BestForBabes/

http://www.facebook.com/peacefulparenting/

http://www.facebook.com/kellymomdotcom/

http://www.facebook.com/MidwiferyToday/

http://www.facebook.com/theunnecesarean/

http://www.facebook.com/mothering.magazine/

http://www.facebook.com/CoalitionforImprovingMaternityServices/

http://www.facebook.com/AmericanPublicHealthAssociation/

http://www.facebook.com/citizensformidwifery/

Robin Elise Weiss, BA, CLC, LCCE, FACCE, ICCE-CPE is a childbirth educator, doula and trainer in Louisville, KY. She lives there with her husband and eight children. You can find her on the web at http://robineliseweiss.com and on Facebook at http://facebook.com/robineliseweiss/.
COPYRIGHT 2010 International Childbirth Education Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Growing Your Business
Author:Weiss, Robin Elise
Publication:International Journal of Childbirth Education
Date:Jun 1, 2010
Words:1508
Previous Article:Beyond Gossip: helping parents find recommendations for local providers and birth settings.
Next Article:Babywearing safety and education.

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