by Jennifer and Brian Bourn
Unless you live in the middle of nowhere with no TV or internet access, it is impossible not to have noticed all of the noise surrounding social media marketing, particularly Facebook.
Chances are, you have a Facebook profile, and maybe even a Facebook business page, and are trying to figure out how to remain social to build quality relationships, but still use it effectively for marketing.
While effective marketing on Facebook is a mystery to many entrepreneurs, one way that I manage my Facebook friends and who I market to on Facebook is by using lists.
Recently Facebook announced that it had reached 500 million users worldwide, up from 100 million from only two years ago, and at any given time I have around 4000-4500 Facebook friends linked to my profile. The number fluctuates as I accept new friend requests and quietly unfriend some other people.
Facebook friend lists have been the absolute best tool to help me manage my relationships on Facebook.
The first step to using lists for effective Facebook marketing is to create a lot of different lists, so that as you get to know to your friends better and begin to use Facebook as a marketing tool, you can segment and tailor your message, based on the goal of your marketing campaign.
The cool thing about lists is that people can be put into more than one, which allows for even more segmentation and refining of your message. I have lists based on my relationship with the person, where I met them, what type of business they own, where they live, and more.
Unfortunately, I discovered the power of Facebook friend lists after I had been using Facebook for a while. I had to comb through my friends, one by one and perform an audit… reading their profile, assigning them to the appropriate lists, or if their profile was fishy in any way or resembled a spam account, unfriending them. It was a long process because I already had connected with so many amazing people. I highly recommend that if you are not yet using Facebook Lists to organize and manage your friends and your Facebook marketing, you start doing so as soon as possible.
If you haven’t created lists to segment your Facebook friends yet, here are a few to get you started:
- Family and Close Friends –
Put all of your family in one list. They love you and are proud of your business, but odds are they probably don’t want an event invitation to your next workshop or teleseminar. Add all of your close friends, high school/college buddies, and anyone else who probably don’t want to receive your marketing messages. They want to be connected to you, but they probably aren’t using Facebook for business purposes. If you were Joe Quarterback and are friends with hundreds of your high school and college alumni, consider creating separate lists.
- Cities, States, Counties, or Countries –
These ones will take a little work, since you will have to visit all of your friends profiles and figure out where they currently live, but the payoff is worth it. Nothing is more irritating than being invited to a local event like an afternoon networking luncheon in Chicago when I live in California. By segmenting your friends by geography and only marketing local events to people who actually live nearby, you can craft a much more effective message and probably increase the response.
- Existing Clients –
These people have already bought from you once and are the most likely to buy from you again. Put them in a list so you can give them a little more attention and help nurture a lifelong customer relationship. Follow up is where most entrepreneurs fail and by grouping all of your past and current clients together, you can quickly scan status updates and posts from your client community and nurture those relationships to stay top of mind.
- VIPs –
Create a list of the coolest people you want to get to know better and who you want to get to know you. This list for me also includes the people who are really kicking butt and taking names in their business and who inspire me to be great every day. This list may include entrepreneurs you look up to, people on influence in your industry, or even someone you are dying to partner with.
- Business Type –
You can also create different lists based on the types of businesses or industries. You may have a list of all of the people who do the same thing you do, or one of vendors and service providers. Grouping your friends by type of business helps you create marketing messages specifically for those people and the more specific the message, the more successful the marketing campaign.
- Where You Met –
I assign my friends whenever possible to a list that tells me where I met them. I have lists based on specific events and conferences I attend as well as lists of people affiliated with specific networking organizations. Preparing a list of people attending an event about 4-6 weeks prior to an event (so you can get to know them more) can be an extremely powerful tool that can drastically improve your event experience.
How to Create Facebook Friend Lists
You can create Facebook Friend Lists from three different places.
First, from your Facebook home screen (when logged in), you can click on Friends in the left hand sidebar (image 1 below). Then your can click the button Create List at the top of your friends list on the right-hand side (image 2 below).
You can also start with the Edit Friends option under Account (image 1 below) in the upper right hand corner of the screen when logged in. When you reach your list of friends you have the option to Create New List at the top of the list on the left-hand side (image 2 below).
Once you click the button to create a list in either place, a dialog box will open up (shown below). You can then create a list name (upper left), select the people you want to add to the list be checking them, and then create the list (bottom right)
If you already have hundreds or even thousands of Facebook friends and you are late to the Facebook Friend List game (don’t worry, I was too), there is another easy way for you to assign the new lists you created to your existing friends. You can click on Edit Friends under Account like I showed you in the first example, and for each friend in your list, you’ll see options on the right to edit those friends. You can click on the “x” to remove a Facebook friend, or you can click on the list information to add them to a list, see the lists they are already added to, or create a new list on the spot (This is the third way to create a friend list). See the example below:
You can also add friends to an existing Facebook Friend List, or a brand new Friend List when you accept a Facebook friend request from someone (image 1 below), or send a friend request to someone (image 2 below).
After you create all of your lists, view all of your friends and start adding them to the appropriate lists. Remember, you can put a person in as many lists as you want. Depending on how many Facebook friends you have, this will take some time, but it will be well worth the effort. Once all your lists are made and your friends are categorized and segmented, it is easy to group all new connections you make.
Now onto the good part…
How to Market on Facebook Using Lists
Once you have a significant amount of friends who post regularly, your news feed, or “stream” as many call it, will more likely resemble a rushing river of links, photos, quotes, tips, and of course, SPAM. There will always be those few who just “don’t get it” or purposely use Facebook for blatant self promotion without ever trying to build a single quality relationship.
After all of your lists are created and your friends are grouped appropriately, you don’t need to bother with your main news feed. Instead, you use your lists to check in and interact with your friends and the people that really matter to you. My Client List on Facebook is one of my most frequented because I want to stay in the conversation with my both my past clients and current clients and continue to provide value. If you built good friend lists this will save you tons of time, and put some of the fun back in social media marketing and social networking.
- I will click on my Facebook Friend List titled “High School/College/Friends” to interact with my non-entrepreneur friends. This list never gets event invites or marketing messages outside what I post in my stream.
- I will view the Facebook Friends List of those attending a specific event more often the 4-6 weeks before the event to build a greater connection and enhance my experience at the event.
- When I am hosting an event like workshop on social media marketing, I will use my geographical lists to invite my Facebook Friends. That way, I am not sending a friend in Florida, Texas, New York, or Arizona an invite to a half day workshop – that would be ridiculous. For a half day event, I only invite those in driving distance. By putting forth the effort to segment your Facebook Friends, and only sending invitations to events that are relevant to the receiver, I am respecting their inbox and hopefully building a better relationship.
Facebook Friend Lists have a lot of uses – my favorite is for targeted event invites and messages. I don’t know about you, but I am SICK AND TIRED of the GIANT list Facebook event invitations I receive for events that are completely irrelevant to me and my business. I mean seriously, I can’t go to a luncheon that is in two days in Pennsylvania, or a breakfast event tomorrow in Atlanta. That just doesn’t make sense to get those invitations.
Here are some quick tips for creating your Facebook Friend Lists:
- Focus Each List! There isn’t a limit on the number of lists you can have (at least not that I know of), so segment away!
- Don’t put someone in more than one geographic list. For example, don’t put them in Sacramento and California. If you do this, you may run the risk of sending them the same event invitation or message twice!
- Keep your lists to 100 people or less. If you have more than 100 in that group, start a second list. For example, I have lists title “eWomenNetwork Sacramento Region,” “eWomenNetwork CA,” “eWomenNetwork USA,” and “eWomenNetwork Canada.” The reason you want to keep your lists to 100, is because you can only send event invites and messages to 100 people at a time.
About the Authors: Jennifer and Brian Bourn owners of Bourn Creative, a Sacramento web design company, help established businesses build beautiful, feature-rich, custom WordPress websites and blogs, design powerful, personal brands, and help their clients learn to leverage their website and blog to attract more clients than they ever thought possible.