There are too many Facebook pages out there that show 57 ‘likes’; most of them straight from the page-owner’s Friend list and 47 posts over 3.7 increasingly lonely months.

When I look at these pages  all I see is that long list of unanswered posts.  I do not see that little header ‘RECENT ACTIVITY’ generated by Facebook that shows the page going out and posting on other businesses walls. “Hmm…”

How did it work when you joined a new school? New Club? New Job? You looked, listened, followed along, waited until you felt you ‘got it’ and then spoke up. When you started your business, did you launch it by setting up a stand on the open road? If you did set up a stand, let’s hope it was in an established market, on a scheduled day!

If you joined a chamber of commerce, trade association or networking group, did you start handing out flyers and invitations on the very first day? Oh, OK – I admit it – I did too (blush!). But now that we know what we know, would we do it again?…. Let’s hope that’s a ’No’. Most of us get further by listening to the customer and referral partner than we do by talking AT them.

So what do we do when our page joins Facebook? How do we actually DO this? Build credibility? Would it be too obvious to answer “Leave a credible message – make credible and consistent posts in places where businesses like yours are found.”  If you want to be organized about it, you can make lists and goals. I do. I have a Mon – Fri daily goal to make 2 posts to each of the following groups. The only challenge here is containing myself to 2 posts  – I could hop around message boards making new friends all day long.

Referral Partners: These are the businesses who are helping my business, online and offline. Of course I like them! I have my page news feed set up so I can see what these guys are posting. I don’t have to dig too deep to come up with a reply or at least hit the ‘like’ button.

We already have overlapping customers and contacts, so posting here is building credibility with more than just the page owner.

Contact Sphere: I have real contact with most of these – online and offline. So it is deepening an existing relationship if I post to them. Watching their news feeds is also an opportunity to learn about them – the good or the bad.

I don’t share too many customers with them (yet!) but we do have shared contacts, so again, this is good for credibility building.

Co-opetition: Very interesting!

I don’t really know these people yet, so I want to be on good polite behavior. I usually start out feeling threatened by them as competition, but as we learn more about each other I can usually re-assign them as contact sphere, acquaintance or mentor. I am keen to build more credibility with them – focusing on playing nice in the sandbox!

BONUS! I personally don’t want to trample all over some other business, doing exactly the same as them and screaming loudly that I am “Better!” I’d rather know more about them, find out what I do that they don’t and focus on building into that area. If you study these guys on Facebook, you will notice what they do, and what they don’t do. That is the bonus! You are seeing the gap in the market that you can come inand fill. This information is HUGE!!! I am not suggesting you can find it in a day, but give it a week or two!?!?

As I looked around Facebook, I realized I did not see anyone near to me sharing the ‘how’ of taking referral marketing online. Building into your contact sphere and co-opetition rather than a random or subscription group.  I saw other ways to build a following, but not the day-to-day details of what I am discussing. So here we are. I’m building credibility - at least with you – you are reading this aren’t you??

Mentors, Vendors and Industry Leaders: Some of these have HUGE fan followings – 300,000 or more. So these are great discussions to get involved with. A lot of people will see your post and your icon. IU’m not suggesting all 300,000 follow every discussion, but even a small percentage of that???

You are among like-minded people. If you post constructively, people will be interested enough to click the link and follow you back to your page.