JAN 2016 – Using Facebook as a business tool

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Build Your Page

First things first, if you don’t have a Facebook business page, it is pretty self-explanatory, just make sure your business information is correct and you have a phone number on there. A good technique to gauge page performance is to put a unique 1-800 number on the page that you only use for Facebook, that way you know who is calling you from Facebook as opposed to your actual website.

Once you fill out the basic business information, all you have is a blank template. Start out by uploading your business logo or some other relevant thumbnail picture. To make your page a little more visually appealing, take advantage of the cover photo feature, and upload a high-quality cover photo cropped to 851px wide by 315px tall. While you can just upload a nice snapshot of your storefront from your iPhone that you cropped in iPhoto, I would recommend hiring a designer to make a nicely presented cover photo with some design features and ad copy relevant to your business. Now that you have the shell set up, you probably see that your page is still devoid of any content. It’s good practice, even before you start marketing your page, to at least put 3-5 posts or photo galleries on there for people to see when they get to your page. Good starter posts would be a well-written link-back post to your website’s main page, a couple photo galleries of different products you offer, and other content that shows the best about your business.

Build Your Audience

Now that you’ve got a good looking business page that tells the story of your business and products clearly to your potential customers, you need to find the people that will actually want what your business offers. While most people would immediately think of sharing links to their friends and family on their personal Facebook page and asking them all to follow your page, that is generally not the best approach. Think about it; your friends and family already know about your business, probably already buy your services and already tell their friends about you. While getting in their Facebook timeline can be helpful, what you really want to find is the person out there who doesn’t even know you exist but really wants what your business has to offer.

This is where Facebook makes their money. For a small daily price, you can sign up for their ad service and start promoting your page to the broadest or most granular audience demographic that a business marketer could imagine. Does your business sell handmade wool comforters imported from the Netherlands with a general customer demographic of married 18-35 year-old females? Facebook Ads will help you find people in your geographic area who fit that exact demographic and have shown an interest in wool comforters, the Netherlands, etc…

Setting up ads can be somewhat complex to get right and not waste money targeting people who aren’t really interested in your products. Facebook has a helpful getting started guide for the uninitiated on their site. Many businesses don’t want to hassle with it and outsource their ad management, which could be an option for you as well. Getting your page promotion in front of your target audience is one thing; getting them to follow your page is another. Whether you do the ads or hire someone else to do them, ensure you have engaging visual content, high-quality pictures, grammatically correct ad copy and a clear call to action in your ads that are going to run. Put your best stuff out there, and inevitably you are going to find the people looking for your kind of business and gain their ever-valuable page like.

Keep a steady post feed to your Facebook page of original and curated content that you compile that is related to your product or industry. It might seem hard to keep posting good content but you can mix it up by linking back to blog posts on your site, or making readily shareable images related to your business/industry with some text overlaying a picture. To gain a real, relevant audience I would discourage, in general, the following:

Engage Your Page

Now that you have a growing following, it’s time to engage your page. There are really two things to focus on at this point. One is staying on top of comment engagement. Your page followers will inevitably make comments on posts and photos. Reply to them promptly, honestly, and with a note of thankfulness in your voice for them engaging your page. A recent study shows that 71% of Facebook users expect a response to their social media comment from a brand or page within one day.

The second thing is engaging content. The burden is on you as the business page to continually supply posts, pictures and links to content related to your product or industry that will keep your audience interested and spark the hoped-for viral sharing response among them. Not every post has to be a home run though, but keep it simple, fresh and relevant. Some suggest a ratio of about 80% related curated content from other sources on the web, and 20% promotional/product related. Frequency varies with your audience; some people want something every day, or 3-5 times a day, others will un-like your page and commit you to the spam graveyard if you fill their timeline more than 2-3 times a week.

What’s The Point?

So let’s say you’ve followed this 3-step process above and find yourself with a couple hundred, or a couple thousand, page followers for your small business. What good will that do you other than the obvious brand awareness and peer-to-peer recommendations? You now have a pool of people with express interest in your product that not only can and will become customers themselves, but are a valuable channel to also reach their friends and others interested in your products. It is not uncommon to promote a page post with relevant content linking back to a small business site, and find a traffic spike related to that promotion providing site visitors for almost 1/10th the cost-per-click of some of the big-name PPC providers, and multiple conversions as well.

But it all begins with the basics of hard work, doing your homework and providing quality content. Ensure you are providing relevant, fresh and engaging content to an interested, real audience and you will undoubtedly continue to see your page, and business, grow!