How to use social media to make your small business much more successful
Facebook has more than 500 million active users — that’s right, half a billion. So it’s a great way for businesses and organizations to find new customers/members, strengthen connections with existing ones and conduct market research. Here’s how…
First Things First
To launch a Facebook page for your business, you first need to set up a personal profile for yourself if you don’t already have one. Follow the directions on www.Facebook.com to set up that profile. Next, click on “Advertising” at the very bottom of the page. On the Facebook Advertising page, click on the Facebook Pages link, then on the green “Create a Page” button, and follow the directions to start an official page — also called a fan page — for your business. You will need to choose the category, select a name for your page and complete the detailed information. The key thing to remember with profiles and pages is that profiles are for people and pages are for businesses.
Establishing a page for a business on Facebook — or on a similar site, such as MySpace or LinkedIn — is just the first step, however. Your business’s page will require ongoing attention and a well-thought-out strategy to truly benefit your business.
Provide value and provide it often
Add new content to your business’s Facebook page at least once a week. Failing to do so could create the impression that you are not attentive to your customers. If you go on vacation or are too swamped with work to provide new content for a while, explain this on the page and say when the new content will resume.
No more than 20% of the content you put on your business’s Facebook page should be obvious attempts at marketing. When Facebook pages read like extended advertisements, potential customers leave and never come back. Most of your content should be attempts to provide the page’s visitors with something of value.
Three ways to provide value…
Humanize your company
Your company’s Facebook page should not read like it is written by a businessperson — it should read like it is written by a person who happens to own a business. Let customers into your life a little. People who feel they know you personally are more likely to feel a bond with your company and consider it trustworthy.
Examples: Provide a few details about your family or how you spend your time away from work. Mention your participation in local community organizations. Offer your personal opinion on issues related to your profession.
KNOW YOUR READERS
Market research firms charge thousands of dollars to figure out who customers are and what they want, but Facebook can supply this information to you for free.
When other Facebook users join your company’s Facebook page, click on their images and learn what you can about them from their Facebook pages. The more you know about your customers, the easier it will be to sell to them. You might even notice patterns in the things that your customers tend to enjoy or the places they tend to live that could help you target marketing campaigns.
Example: You notice that a handful of customers who have joined your business’s Facebook page also have joined the Facebook page of a seemingly unrelated business across town. That business might have additional customers who would be interested in what you do, and vice versa. Perhaps the owner of that business would let you put a flyer in his/her window or a stack of business cards by his register if you let him do the same.
If your competitors have Facebook pages, read up on those who have joined their pages, too. You might learn something about the potential customers your company is failing to reach.
From time to time, solicit the opinions of visitors to your Facebook page. What do they think of the products and services that you currently provide? What do they want from your business that they’re not getting? This can trigger loyalty-building interaction with customers and provide valuable feedback.
Example: Clothing retailer The Gap recently unveiled a new logo on Facebook — but it received such an overwhelmingly negative response that the company squelched the redesign. Without this Facebook feedback, The Gap would have wasted millions promoting a new logo that its customers didn’t like.
PROMOTE YOUR PAGE
Add “Visit Our Facebook Page” and the page’s user name to your receipts and invoices. Print your page’s user name on your business card and your other marketing materials.
Make use of your other networks in conjunction with Facebook. Twitter can be particularly powerful in getting a message out quickly to your target group’s cell phones when you have a last-minute deal, an exclusive special or a limited-time offer. Twitter will allow your Facebook fans to get the message first.
CREATE A FACEBOOK AD
Allocate a portion of your marketing budget to Facebook ads. (To create a Facebook ad, click the “Advertising” link at the bottom of the Facebook page, then click the green “Create an Ad” button.) Facebook ads can be a great way to target niche groups at a relatively low cost. Facebook ads can be targeted very specifically, based on user interests, age and geographic regions.
One of the beauties of the Facebook ad is that creating the content can be done in moments, and Facebook even will provide suggestions for ad content — such as how to use photos and keywords — based on the Web site address that you provide.
Set your Facebook ad spending caps (the total amount you’re willing to spend per day on Facebook advertisements) low until you are certain that your ads are effective.
Also, choose the “Pay for Clicks” billing option. With this, you pay only when Facebook users click the ad to visit your Facebook page or Web site. This costs more than the “Pay for Impressions” options (where you pay each time your ad appears on a computer screen whether it’s clicked or not) but often is more cost effective.
Unlike traditional ad campaigns, which may lock you in for six months or more, elements in Facebook ads (such as content and targeting) can be modified at any time and can be turned off entirely at any point.