After a recent series of catastrophic weather events, an insurance agent I know posted on his Facebook page a series of questions and answers, such as “If the wind knocks over my tree into my neighbor’s garden and damages something, am I responsible?” As a result of this care and concern for his fans, he was able to write a number of new insurance policies. He did not use his Facebook page to overtly solicit business but to help his future clients.

If you’re new to social media, you may have a few questions crossing your mind, such as:

1. Why even spend time and effort creating a Facebook page?

Facebook is the world’s largest online social network, now with more than 750 million users. With a Facebook page, you can include everything that relates to your practice in one place, free of charge.

2. Why isn’t our website enough of an online presence?

If you were a shopkeeper, where would you rather locate your store? On a dusty, lonely, country road or in the vibrant, buzzing commercial hub of your town? People are spending six billion minutes a day on Facebook (about an hour per user per day). Shouldn’t your practice be there, too? Also, websites are difficult to update, but Facebook updates are as easy as logging in and typing or uploading.

3. What about good, old-fashioned marketing such as print advertising and the phone book?

As Malcolm Faulds said in a recent issue of Advertising Age, “Why spend millions of dollars on advertising, promotions and product placement when the most effective marketing can come from consumers themselves—through word of mouth?” To get started, become a fan of your own page and have all of your staff become fans, too.

4. What is the difference between a Facebook profile and a Facebook page?

People have profiles on Facebook while businesses have pages, which were known as “fan” pages until April of 2010. With your Facebook page, you want an “open” network to connect with as many fans as possible. For your personal profile on Facebook, you can decide who will be your “friends” and with whom you will interact.

5. What kind of content should we post on our Facebook page?

On your Facebook page, you might decide to have photos of yourself and your staff, your interests and those of your staff (to humanize them), a video tour of your office, articles of interest written from a client’s perspective, videos that show and explain what you do and questions from clients along with your answers.

6. How do we set up a Facebook page?

If you are not one of the 750 million people who have already set up a personal profile, be sure to do so right away. You must have an operational profile before you can establish a Facebook page for your practice. The next step is to go to the Pages section of Facebook and to click on “Create page” in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.

7. Once we have set up our Facebook page, what’s next?

The reason most of the more than three million Facebook pages fail is because creating one was a reactive, rather than a proactive, event. Many businesses create a Facebook page simply to keep up with the competition. Stand out from the crowd with fabulous exclusive content.

The best source of advertising, bar none, is your satisfied clients. Through the proper use of social media, word-of-mouth marketing can be yours.

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Ted Janusz is an expert in face-to-face and social-media networking and the author of “Social Media Marketing Guide for the Insurance Professional.” He also conducts time-management seminars across the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. For more information, go to http://www.januspresentations.com/index.html