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How to build a Facebook presence that works to your business' benefit

Social media has become a real force in the eyes of consumers. From YouTube to Facebook, people are turning to social media sites now more than ever to get more connected to and involved with the companies they do business with. The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is advising businesses to be sure to use their Facebook presence to their advantage.

A Facebook page can serve as an eye-catching way to lure in potential customers - if used correctly. Making sure that your website is up-to-date is the first step to having a solid, successful Facebook page. But be sure not to make the mistake of having your Facebook page serve as your only online presence. It's better to be active on a number of online fronts to extend your reach and attract more potential customers.

According to Human Business Works, 60% of U.S. businesses are not online in any fashion - a huge mistake in an age where most people rely heavily on search engines to find out information about businesses. Investing the time to create a dynamic website is worth the effort, as it will also serve as a great landing page for your Facebook link. As many companies have found, Facebook is a great means of building your clientele and overall constituency, and it's important that your page's messaging speaks volumes about the effectiveness of your business and its brand.

"Businesses can gain great insight about their consumers through their Facebook page. Looking at their responses and involvement on their page is a great indicator of the depth and to what degree they are reaching their audiences," said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the BBB. "Special graphics and applications aren't a must, but they can add an element that sets your business apart from competitors."

The BBB recommends the following to small businesses that are looking to grow their Facebook presence:

Keep your page fresh, lively and interactive. When posting to Facebook make sure to keep your audience in mind. What would they like to know and what do they need to know? Are you offering any special deals, rewards or promotions? All comments should be kept positive and sincere. Consider polling your audience with a question of the day or week to keep them engaged and feeling valued.

A picture (and video) is worth a thousand words. Make sure to keep the communication light and avoid talking at your audience. Try to mix it up by adding pictures and videos with fun, inviting captions to reel your audience in.

Spread the love. By becoming fans and "liking" your business partners, vendors and sponsors, you can not only grow your own constituency, but draw more viewers to your Facebook page.

Share the wealth of knowledge. Informative postings that are in-line with your business model are a great way to show your followers that you are up-to-date and staying abreast of trends of your industry.

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