AUGUSTA — U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, who has a Facebook page with nearly 4,700 “likes,” invited representatives of the social networking giant to the city Tuesday to help teach Maine business owners how to turn virtual likes and fans into customers.

Snowe, R-Maine, said that the state’s businesses can tap into new markets, and build loyalty with existing customers, by doing more business online, including through social media such as Facebook.

“Over half of Maine’s population is on Facebook — think about that,” Snowe told a few hundred businesspeople gathered at the Augusta Civic Center.

Snowe said by using social media as a marketing tool, Maine businesses have the potential of “literally reaching into millions and millions of people’s living rooms.”

Maxine Schlein and Kirsten Bury, members of the Facebook Global Marketing Solutions Team, showed Snowe and attendees how to claim a spot for their businesses on Facebook, and how to both attract potential customers by getting them to click the like button on their page, and retain customers once they become “fans” of a business page.

Their lessons included how to send advertisements to not only people who self-identified themselves on Facebook, as fans of a business, but also the Facebook friends of those fans. And how to have those ads include information showing the business is already liked by their friends. She said people are four times more likely to buy a product if they see an ad for it associated with a friend’s name.

“Fred is my friend, and I trust Fred, so I’m more likely to check out what he enjoys,” Schlein said, noting there are 800 million people on Facebook. “Because we care about our friends and what they enjoy.”

Patrick Wright, director of the local business promotion organization Gardiner Main Street, asked Facebook officials how much is too much when it comes to posting on Facebook.

“As a user, I’ve experienced Facebook fatigue,” Wright said. “Where a friend or business I like posts so much I end up dropping their newsfeed. Has any study been done, or do you have words of wisdom regarding post frequency and the types of posts that have the biggest impact on customers?”

Bury said she was not aware of any information on the upper limit of posting frequency, but agreed too many uninteresting posts could overwhelm some users.

“I want to see things that are interesting, but I don’t want to be bombarded,” she said. She added that customers respond best to interesting posts that include photographs or videos.

Schlein said businesses can decide how much they want to spend individually on advertising on Facebook, but recommended at least $5 a day.

Sara Dostie, who has both a website and Facebook page for her Winthrop business, Healing Hands Holistic Wellness LLC, through which she offers both massage therapy and guided recreational trips, said she hoped to use information from the session to better target her social media marketing to people more likely to be interested in her business.

Deb Fahy, executive director of the nonprofit Harlow Gallery in Hallowell, said the gallery has been on Facebook since 2008, and said it has been a great marketing tool.

After the presentation Snowe chatted with several businesswomen as they waited to ask Schlein or Bury individual questions, asking them if they found the session helpful.

She received likes all around.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]


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