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There's been a lot of brouhaha of late about Facebook's ill-fated attempt to change its terms of service to maintain licensing rights of terminated accounts—and understandably so. The issue of customer data ownership is an important one.

However, many businesses with an active presence on the social site are now fearful of getting caught up in any ensuing consumer backlash, and they are wondering what to do—keep our Facebook pages or move on to someplace safer?

The short answer is, Right now, just keep focusing on connecting with your customers wherever they are (and they are still, absolutely, on Facebook, in droves).

Here's the kicker: While the debate rightfully continues, the fundamentals of how to market on social media sites hasn't changed. Companies that recognize the one-to-one relationship-building capabilities that Facebook provides will still find lucrative opportunities to successfully build trust by offering valuable content and incentive.

There is still value for businesses to maintain profiles and put effort into social networking, regardless of how the terms of service may change or revert back.

So before you getting caught up in the current melee, continue to focus on these cardinal rules when marketing on social media sites:

Be real: The old adage remains true—people buy from people they know and like. Ensure that your corporate-image Facebook image matches the true corporate culture. Don't be afraid to show some of the human side as well; it can endear you to a greater number of people.

Be relevant: Content remains king, and your updates and offerings need to reflect what your fans and friends want and need. Reposting press releases and ad copy is a surefire way to distance you from stakeholders, and therefore cause you to lose opportunities for increased awareness and revenue.

Be receptive: Ensure that you listen as much as—if not more than—you speak. Customers want to tell you what they think and want. You just have to be in a position to hear it. Facebook and other social sites provide a level of accessibility that can't be even remotely matched by anonymous surveys and focus groups.

Be responsive: Once you get feedback, you'd better do something about it. Customers expect it, and they'll be demanding you respond to their inquiries and posted suggestions. Even if the answer is no, they'll want to know that they were heard and considered. If not, you'll find yourself "friendless" in short order.

No version of Facebook's terms of service will ever come n between a company and its constituents in a social media setting so long as that organization has built and maintained a strong personal connection.

Think of it this way: A retail store would still get customers even if the strip mall manager was a jerk—because customers feel a connection to the store owner and sales clerks. It's the same on Facebook and other social sites. Companies that continually focus on their customers will succeed regardless of site policy changes.

Continue reading "Terms, Shmerms! Why Business Can't Afford to Get Distracted by Facebook's Usage Policies" ... Read the full article

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Crosby Noricks is the social media strategist for Red Door Interactive, a San Diego-based Internet-presence management firm. E-mail her at