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How should I use Facebook to market my business?

fb f logo blue 1024A question many a small business owner asks themselves.

Unlike a lot of the advice you'll get if you Google "Facebook marketing", we don't necessarily agree that Facebook is the answer to all your marketing challenges – especially if you are a small business with a few (or possibly only one) employee(s).

Much of the advice is very generic and, just like stretch pants – one size does not fit all.

While you could make the argument that any type of business could use Facebook to promote their business it doesn't always make sense in terms of the availability of resources within the business – i.e. someone to do it. Nor does is show a clear return on the investment – i.e. does it actually make any money?!

Just setting up a Facebook page, getting your existing customers and friends to like it won't work and yet that is what many businesses do. Unlike something like Google Adwords which can simply require a bit of a guiding hand, as they saying goes - you need to Work It!

Is it going to be good for you?

As a platform, who is Facebook suitable for?

  • Consumer brands – i.e. if you sell stuff to individuals as opposed to businesses
  • Business to Business – if your target audience frequents Facebook a lot as individuals and who are interested in what you have to say/offer even in their spare time
  • Business to Business – if what you have to offer could be considered 'fun' – entertainment, travel, hospitality etc. or highly visual (although in these cases something like Instagram might be more suitable)

The rule of thumb is to go where your audience is. Go where you can best present your business to people who are going to be interested.

So if your audience are corporates, executives or even medium sized businesses, Facebook may not be the right place for you unless you have oodles of resources to blanket the whole online social space and stake your claim everywhere. If you need to target individuals such as sales or purchasing managers and department heads LinkedIn is probably a better place to start.

What's involved if I want to do it?

Lets assume you have a Facebook page for your business – if not you can read a guide to setting one up here.

There are several key things you need to get done to get any return on your Facebook efforts.

1. Set up your Facebook page so it can be found and liked

facebook page

When you set up your FB page, make sure you get a vanity url so people can find it easily – preferably one like facebook.com/businessname.

Make sure you are in the right category – so if you are a local bricks and mortar business, select this as your business type.

Use descriptive words in your about section. Include your target keywords so your are more likely to show up in search, and include a link to your website. Include a list of the services you offer, phone number, email address etc.

Use a cover image that clearly conveys what you are offering people – people don't often visit your actual Facebook page – and normally this is only when they check you out for the first time, so make sure the impression sticks! Once they have liked your page, they tend not to come back to this main page as they see your posts in their time-line.

So given that.....

2. Have a posting calendar

We describe this in more detail here but there is no point having a Facebook page that sits dormant and expecting it to work miracles. People will only see what shows up in their time line, and to do that you need to post stuff – regularly.

So come up with a plan about what you'll post and when. So it might be:

  • Every Tuesday – post the latest blog on the website
  • Every Friday – an industry joke or other light relief
  • Every other day – link to news story or useful article from your industry
  • Every day – post an image relevant to your industry and ask for comments
  • Occasionally – post a question or poll

Don't be boring – posting the same old dry posts like 'today is the deadline for submitting your GST return' isn't going to be that interesting for people. Include some funny stuff but be careful not to be too flippant or off-message. Variation is the spice of life.

3. Include sharing buttons on your website blog

Your website should include a blog, resources or other section that allows you to publish content regularly. This will feed into your social sharing calendar and help with getting found on Google. Put sharing buttons on your blog so people can share your content for you.

You can read a bit more about this here

4. Grow your audience

This is one that many small businesses struggle with. Apart from including social buttons on your website, increase the number of people that like your page by:

  • Post great content that people comment on and share – it will show up on their timeline and encourage their friends to like your page
  • Post stuff from your business page to your personal profile – in this way you are reaching out to your friends and their friends (and so on....)
  • Add Facebook to your business cards, email signature etc
  • Include links to popular posts in your email newsletter
  • Run a contest – more about doing this here. You have to use an App to run a contest on Facebook
  • If you guest blog, put a link to your Facebook page
  • Cross - promote your Facebook page and posts on other social networks
  • Use Facebook as your page (as opposed to your personal profile) and like, comment and participate on other pages, particularly those that target the same audience (but not your competitors obviously!)
  • Advertising – use ads or sponsored stories
  • Incentivise – post special deals and discounts on your Facebook page so your 'fans' keep an eye out for your posts – and share them with friends
  • Use page insights to figure out what is working and what is not

Pick one or two at a time to see what works

General thoughts

Success using Facebook won't happen overnight so think of it as a long game of two parts:

1. Growing and keeping the relationship with your existing customers so they don't leave and go somewhere else, and they recommend you to their friends
2. Attracting people who aren't currently your customers and building relationships with them so they do.

Building relationships take time, as anyone who does face to face business networking will know.

If you are committed to using Facebook for business, I recommend liking and regularly checking in with the Facebook for Business page, and keeping an eye out for blog posts on the subject. Facebook change things regularly and it is easy to lose track.

So - How should I use Facebook to market my business?

This really does depend.

If you aren't sure, get someone to sit down with your and nut out the details but make sure they talk about it in context of your specific needs including:

  1. Does your target market use Facebook to talk about, find out about or otherwise get involved in what you have to offer - if No, then stop now.
  2. How much time and budget can your business devote to working with the platform.  If you answer 'none or very little' you might as well stop here as well
  3. What are you trying to acheive in terms of existing customers and new customers - and what would make that happen.  Decide this before you do anything and don't just say 'buy more stuff'
  4. What content and other assets are you going to need - ie video, blogs, images etc and how are you going to get or build them
  5. Come up with a specific posting and reach development plan (ie how you will grow your audience)

Want more?

Here's some more resources on using Facebook:

Disclaimer - If you're about to go check out our Facebook page by all means do but for us Facebook doesn't figure highly in our marketing strategy, at least at this time. We've learnt from our customers, partners, business contacts along with research and observation what works and what doesn't.

Essentee
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As a first time potential website owner who wanted some professional design input we embarked on the usual routine of web-trawling for suitable website design consultants. After interviewing the ‘top end and highest priced’ designers and the subsequently elicited ‘how much?’ responses, we found Essentee, who provide a fixed-fee service.

From the first contact we found Sandra to be attentive, focused, understanding and responsive to our unique needs.  She took away our brief and produced an initial proposal which was exactly right: simple, focused, appropriate. 

Throughout the subsequent development and tweaking, Sandra and Tony provided just the right amount of corrective suggestions such as to direct us to a solution that resulted in what, to us, is a first class website that speaks the words we wanted to say in the way we wanted it said. No dramas, no patronising, just patient understanding and coaxing.

If you are a website virgin, look no further: Sandra and Tony will ease your passage and you will emerge the other end with a smile and a beautiful new-born website!

Dave at Reveal Building Consultants Ltd