07/26/2011 01:23 pm ET | Updated Sep 20, 2011

Facebook 101: Business Basics With a Cyber Twist

Ever since Facebook become the dominant player in social networking, marketers and business owners are looking for new ways to tap into this growing community.

Grabbing someone's short attention span with 140 characters, building trust, marketing your brand and monetizing Facebook - all at the same time- poses quite a challenge.

There are successful entrepreneurs who have done just this and now they are teaching others to do the same. Through trial and error, Gia Heller and Ann Evanstan, have taken their business strategies and adapted them to Facebook.

Ann Evanstan, also known as Warrier-Preneur has created an online Social Networking Club offering education with a reasonable lifetime membership fee. You'll learn a social media strategy that includes: the do's and don'ts of social media, how to post updates that stand out and increase your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and all this while building your brand.

Members have access to training videos and online forums. If you'd rather not join the club, you can still participate in Ann's clever Blogger Monday on Facebook..

Ann's motto is "givers gain". Bloggers agree to comment on each other's blogs; showing how valuable on line engagement is to driving traffic to your blog, raising your rank in Google while building your reputation and lasting relationships. Ann does ask for one commitment. If you participate you must read and respond to all the other participants' blogs. "Reciprocity on ALL levels is important and creating a quality community of committed commenter's creates value for everyone involved".

Gia Heller, another Facebook innovator, has combined conventional networking with Social Media. She's the founder of The National Business Experts in Phoenix Arizona, an exclusive members-only group. Membership is based on several criteria, one being the willingness to use Social Media (LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook) to support others in the group.

Gia supports those in her organization. "When a non-member comes to a meeting to learn more the members assume that this is someone trying to take from the group and not give because they aren't a member and they aren't reciprocating". Gia quotes from an email she wrote to a potential member who felt left out at a meeting, "Had you joined the group that night, you wouldn't have felt like an outsider. This group is very protective and they are here to reciprocally support and promote each other". Gia explains, "If you join this organization you will be embraced and promoted by the other members".

She will tag business owners affiliated with her in some way and if you happen to post 'graffiti' on her wall, she will use that to benefit her members, not you. She leads by example and teaches her members to do the same. Membership has its privileges.

Gia believes, "The more we lift the entrepreneur's spirit and skill level...the more business becomes a grass roots effort to change the entire way we go from a competition based society to a collaborative effort".

Her meetings offer collaboration, referral based business, motivation and training. Once a month the "5 Family's Mafia Style Networking" meeting is open to about 100 business seated 12 owners at a table. Each business owner is allotted 5 minutes to discuss their business and ask for "favors from your family". These favors can't be refused. Her second live event of the month offers motivation and training.

You can tap into this huge social media community too. The experts offer this advice:

  • No matter what, offer value. "No one cares if you had crunchy cereal for breakfast", Gia laughs, and "Stop posting Zen quotes, no one is that Zen" she adds. Offer valuable content that will enhance your reputation, but more importantly make a difference to someone else's day.

  • Know your value. You aren't the only person who does what you do. What is different about you? What is your story? Be yourself, be transparent and share who you are not what you are!
  • ABC, Always Be Connecting. On Facebook, as in business, it's about engagement. Connect with your audience, tap into who they are and find out about them. Ask questions and engage your audience. Create discussions, tag your clients, acknowledge and support others and engage, engage, engage.
  • Have a call to action. Start a conversation that will drive people to your blog, your website or your fan page. "Hey come on over to my page and share your favorite song from your youth". Elicit emotion and tap into the need we all have to talk about ourselves.
  • People crave connection and community. Whether in person or in cyber space, it still comes down to value. When you tap into the value you have to offer another human being and focus on ways you can serve your community, you too will prosper on Facebook.