Facebook is for businesses too

Businesses in Cortez, Dolores and Mancos are becoming more aware of their place in the cyberspace world. Geeks on Grand, located at 145 Grand Ave. in Mancos, is also aware of the benefits an online presence has for business owners.

On February 28, Geeks on Grand offered a Facebook training course for businesses located in Montezuma and Dolores counties. The course was designed to help open, utilize and maintain a Facebook business page.

Victoria Petersen and Perry Lewis are the brains behind Geeks on Grand. Petersen is an avid Facebook user, both personally and professionally. She said Facebook has helped to get their presence out in the public. Since their page was established in December 2011, they've reached out to customers they wouldn't necessarily communicate with because of their base in Mancos.

"We don't get a lot of walk-in traffic. Our business is mostly done online," Petersen explained. "We do very little advertising but we have had jobs in other states because of Facebook. It's a great benefit."

The Geeks on Grand may have an upper hand because of the nature of their business, but no one is excluded. Engravers, horse breeders, writers, realtors and veterinary clinics were a few of the interested parties.

Marcie and Jerry Ryan, owners of Ryans' Custom Products Inc., specialize in engraving names, logos, addresses and more into marble, wood, stone, glass, crystal, aluminum and other substrates. They already have a well established website, but felt that a Facebook identity should be added. Marcie set up the Ryans' Custom Products page during the class. One week later, they had 31 "likes."

"What I like about it (the page) is I wake up thinking about what to post, like links to suppliers, our completed products - the only thing I've had trouble with is resizing photos so they appear better on Facebook. But I'm definitely going up the learning curve fast."

The Ryans were most interested in the nuts and bolts of the business layout. How to interact with fans, how to run a page, effective layout and content strategies were some of their concerns. On the whole, they have found a way to market themselves quickly.

"I want to be sensitive to my friends' needs," Marcie added. "My more social contacts I will ask to like my page but I don't want to bother everyone."

There were some present that worried about privacy, customer complaints and keeping personal pages separate. Lewis and Petersen were sympathetic to their worries. However, these are the misconceptions that make Facebook difficult for a business.

"You have to get over being intrusive," Lewis said. "There is no difference in standing on a corner talking about your business then sending an email that says 'like my page.'"

Networking on Facebook can be extremely beneficial if executed properly. There are plenty of ways to tie-in websites or blogs, be creative and interact. The key is: be consistent and know your audience. Petersen told the group to update their page often. This factor alone could help search engine capabilities for curious web surfers. She did advise against too much updating as this can cause a reverse effect.

"If people see you too much, they may unlike your page," she warned.

Marcie doesn't feel apt to bombard people with information so she has set up the post-dated scheduling tool to predetermine her page updates. There are also various levels for business pages, where users can unlock more substantial features as they gain more fans.

Businesses will also be glad to know that customers do not have to be users in order to view a page. All they need is the web address and it will act as a second website. Picture posts and web links are still available to view for those without personal accounts. The benefits of Facebook for business are endless. The best one of all - it's free.

"Other than your time and effort, the fact is, it's free advertising," Petersen said. "It's the ultimate free tool and you will definitely get more customers on Facebook in some way."

For more information on business courses through Geeks on Grand, contact Petersen or Lewis at 533-9926.

rachels@cortezjournal.com