Facebook is an easy way to stay in touch with friends both near and far. However, Facebook is also an important tool for professionals who want to increase business opportunities. I like to say Facebook is the “gateway site” to social media. With more than 1.28 billion users, Facebook remains the largest social media platform. Establishing a presence on this mass-market social media site is an effective way to help step-up your game, increase your findability and bring in new leads.

Facebook Personalizes You. Facebook offers you the ability to share who you are with others. So from a professional-use perspective, I recommend approaching Facebook as a relationship and brand-building tool — never as a sales tool. People are on Facebook to interact with others; not be sold. Interact with them.

Also important: Understand and follow your company’s social media policy and industry regulations. For example, Don’t quote an interest rate or share personal information about your customers.

So with that in mind, let’s take a look at 5 immediate steps you can take right now to use Facebook as a marketing tool.

1.       Update Your Profile

Facebook offers you the ability to connect with a variety of people, often times coming together over a commonality. This could be unrelated to who you are or what you do as a professional. Not only is it important to highlight exactly what you do, whom you work for and how you can be reached, but also include personal information. Where did you go to school? What are your hobbies and interests?

It is also beneficial to keep your Facebook profile open and to join groups that you feel passionate about. This will increase your findability with a larger audience and help you to connect with like-minded people.

2.       Connect With Customers

Facebook, like any social media platform, is another way for you to stay connected with your customers. Take advantage of the popularity Facebook offers and connect with customers when you can and when appropriate. Doing so offers them another way to stay in touch with you and provides you an opportunity to increase your exposure to a larger audience. For example, by engaging with customers on their Facebook walls – writing a friendly message, congratulating them – you increase who of their Friends can see you. This means individuals who do not know you or what you do professionally, have the opportunity to see your profile page, possibly resulting in increased connections, leads or customers.

3.       Post/Share Interesting Content

Social media is about being social. Another way to step-up your professional game on Facebook is to share interesting, inspiring content – cool stories or articles that resonates with your target customer or audience for example. By doing so, you increase the chances others will share this content. The result for you is increased visibility with a larger audience.

Try sharing beautiful pictures on Facebook. Everyone knows photos are a universal language, and it has been statistically proven that sharing images increases the likelihood of engagement by at least 93%. Sharing inspirational quotes is another great way to find commonalities with your audience. Share a blog post you may have written. With the growing popularity of Vine and YouTube, videos offer an easy way to learn or be entertained. Try creating short, fun videos about things you enjoy in your free time, like cooking, sports, crafts, telling a joke or something funny a pet or child has done.

4.       Ask a Question

One of my favorite ways to connect with people on Facebook is to pose questions. I find my Facebook friends can offer a diverse and deep knowledge about a great many things. Engage your audience and have those conversations. Some questions I like to pose are, “Would you rather…” “What is your favorite…” “What is the best…” or “Can you recommend…” not only are the responses interesting and helpful, it also is a great way to create and strengthen bonds with your audience by sparking that community discussion.

5.       Support Your Customers and Business Partners

Like any good friend, support those with whom you are connected on Facebook. Staying top-of-mind on Facebook is as easy as clicking ‘Like’ on a Friend’s post. Or take it a step farther and write a nice comment on their post. It shows you are listening, that you care, and will increase who can see you on Facebook.

Supporting local businesses in your community is another way to help build relationships. Anytime you share a photo on Facebook from a business in your community, be sure to tag that company in your post. Doing so will allow them to see that you have highlighted their company on social media, and help to strengthen that relationship.

There are countless other ways to use Facebook to build and strengthen relationships with customers. Most important, use Facebook to be a friend, and remember to be authentic.

By incorporating these 5 steps into your daily Facebook habits, you can make a positive impact on those around you, help to build your personal brand and strengthen professional relationships.

How do you use Facebook to stay connected professionally? Please share in the comments.

Check out my recorded webinar

How to Step Up Your Professional Game on Facebook

Ben Smidt, MA

Ben Smidt - MGIC Digital Strategy Manager

Ben Smidt serves as MGIC’s Digital Strategy Manager. He leads corporate development and management of MGIC's digital marketing strategy across the enterprise. This includes establishing a clear vision for all digital marketing initiatives and providing strategic direction for the company's digital and social media marketing efforts. His primary goal is to increase brand awareness and improve user experience (UX). Additional responsibilities include PPC budget strategy and management of ad spend.

In addition to the insurance industry, Ben has a combined 10 years of experience in computer software, education and publishing industries. His focus has always remained in the area of education and digital marketing for media and technology.

He holds an MA from Marquette University in media channel effectiveness and digital communications, as well as a BS from UW-Madison focused in communications. He resides with his wife, daughter and son in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

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