We all know that Facebook recently went public. Of all of the eye-popping numbers surrounding Facebook—850 million active users, 250 million photos uploaded per day, a $100 billion valuation—the figure that small-business owners might be most interested in is a considerably smaller one: fifteen. As in the fact that the social-networking site accounts for 15 percent of all time spent online.
With Facebook dominating so much of Internet-users time, it has become a great medium for small-business owners to build their clientele, communicate with customers and gain valuable feedback and insights. If you haven’t done so already, it’s probably time to create a Facebook page for your business—it only takes a few minutes—and then try following these five steps in order to maximize its usefulness.
1.) Invite friends & family to “like” it.
With Facebook business pages the easiest way to gauge your reach is by looking at the numbers of users that like your company. By asking your friends and family to click that little like button on your page, you can build up a reasonable number of fans before unveiling your business page to a wider audience. This serves two purposes: First, it will help make your business look popular, and second, it may help increase your profile with those people that interact with your friends and family on Facebook. That, after all, is what social media was designed to facilitate.
2.) Post often and be interesting.
People may give your page a look and a like when they first hear about, but if you don’t update it with new and interesting content on a regular basis, you’re going to lose their interest fairly quickly. In order to make a more genuine connection with viewers, try to post content that is not purely informational, but also reflective of your business’s unique personality. And definitely take advantage of the ability to post photographs and videos that help to share your story in an entertaining fashion.
3.) Don’t be hard sell.
Facebook didn’t become the world’s most popular Internet site by ramming a buy-buy-buy message down customers’ throats; it got there because people love to interact with others online for free. So it makes sense to follow this same strategy when trying to connect with your business’s Facebook following. Rather than making your page all about the sale, use it to engage with your audience and to listen and respond to their comments and criticisms. This way, you’ll build long-term relationships and maybe even gain some good ideas on improving your business.
4.) Offer special deals.
While Facebook users aren’t interested in the hard sell, they do love the special deal—so try offering users a reward or a discount for “liking” you in order to increase your number of fans. To keep people coming back to your page on a regular basis, you might consider running special deals that can only be unlocked via a promotional code or password posted on your page.
5.) Consider utilizing paid ads.
Creating a Facebook page and following the preceding strategies can be effective and won’t cost you a dime, but if you’re willing to invest some money in an ad campaign, Facebook can offer the kind of targeted marketing that was a pipe dream just a few years ago. Because users are willing to share so much of their data with Facebook, businesses that pay for ads can target an incredibly precise audience. For example, if you’ve got a wedding photography business in Chicago you could create an ad that is delivered exclusively to people in your local ZIP codes who list their marital status as engaged. Think of what this kind of targeting could mean for your business.
Whether you choose the free or the paid route, or both, remember that it will take some time to see the results, so be patient and stay engaged with your audience as you wait for the social-networking effect to take hold.