With nearly 3 billion monthly users, Facebook cannot be overlooked as it can play an important role as a marketing tool for small business if used correctly.
As with all the social platforms, any small business should have a Facebook page. It’s not nearly as important as your website, but it is important to enhance your credibility.
Creating a page is the cost of entry these days. To create a page, you log in and follow the instructions:
It’s very important that your page is visually appealing, is easy to understand, and has clear images or videos about what the business does. Remember your Facebook page may be the first introduction someone has to your brand so the quality of the content, images, and videos matter.
When you enter your information to set up your Facebook page, you see that there are several customization options. You will want to add as much relevant information as possible.
We like to divide the page into three parts. The first is all about the data - your name, your address, phone number, email, website, hours or operation, products, services, etc.
The second focuses on the rational benefits that you provide. This is where you explain what the business does. You highlight why you differ from your competition. This section focuses heavily on features and benefits.
You will also want to make sure your description has your top keywords to attract the right target audience. You will also want to show up when people search Facebook for businesses like yours.
Third, we have the heart. This is where you tell your story. This is your opportunity to show a little emotion and/or personality. You want to be likeable and relatable. Otherwise, why would someone be interested in what you say or do?
Long gone are days when you could post your content and nearly all your followers would see it. Now, you would be lucky if 2% saw it. Therefore, you need a mix of exceptional content that is shareable coupled with promotion if you wish to interact with your audience and draw in new followers.
With Facebook, there is no shortage of promotional vehicles. We walk through those later.
Facebook has a male skew. This is most noticeable in the 18-34 age range.
Facebook has weakened in the 13-17 age group. The largest user group is 25-34, followed by 18-24.
Facebook users appear to have higher incomes. According to Sprout Social, “86% of internet users with $100k+ income use Facebook”
Before you build a Facebook post, it is always best to have a plan. Otherwise, posting can go astray and become hard to follow.
The first step in creating a calendar is to develop a mood board. A mood board is like a collage. Each board contains a set of images that center on one aspect of the personality of your brand and persona you want to project.
You can have multiple mood boards. However, it is important to ensure that they are true to your brand identity. Remember, Facebook is a heavily visual medium, so this is important and often missed when trying to post frequently.
This can be the hardest part. Daily posting of quality, shareable content is extremely challenging. This is why a calendar is so important.
It is best to have at least two to four weeks of posts in the queue. Rushed content is rarely of high quality. It is worth the time and investment to get ahead.
Quality and shareability are in the beholder's eye. While you can do your research upfront and build the best posts, mood boards, and calendars, you also need to monitor and listen. One of the best things about social media is the instantaneous feedback.
Engagement will let you know whether or not your content is working. Facebook insights provides more detailed information for free. Every business page has access to the Page Insights. It can tell you how many people engage with each post and how many the post reached.
This can take a lot of the uncertainty out of posting. However, it only works once you have a high enough engagement level to read the signal from the noise. Most new businesses will have few followers and minimal engagement.
Once you have engagement levels above 20, analyzing your content monthly will help you decide whether one topic area or mood board is better than another. You will want to know what drives engagement.
Facebook’s algorithm favors engagement. Therefore, it is the key to driving organic visibility. Just like organic traffic is the goal of SEO for Google, organic posts should be the goal for Facebook.
Therefore, every time you develop a post, it is best practice to ask yourself, will this start a conversation? If you are viewing Facebook as a one-way communication medium, your post will not have much organic reach.
Social media is best when used as a dialog. It is an asynchronous conversation, but it is a conversation nevertheless. You should always respond to comments and engage.
Depending on your audience, there are tools that have been shown effective in driving engagement. Polls on relevant topics, commenting on follower’s posts, etc. are all ways to help improve engagement.
Sharing, tagging, mentioning are all ways to extend the life of a post and build awareness. Sometimes your customers can be your best advocates. When they engage with your content, their followers may see that your customers commented, tagged, etc. a topic that might interest them.
Sometimes your customers might need a little push or incentive. Discounts, promotions, special offers are examples of proven tactics to drive action. Anything that can make your customer feel like he or she is part of a special group gets results.
For many businesses, organic reach is not enough. Here, it may be time to pay to reach more people. Facebook’s advertising algorithms are effective in placing content in the feed of potential new customers and/or followers. Facebook ads can be a useful tool to promote your business and reach potential customers.
With the loss of the cookie, it may become more difficult to target as specifically as before. However, affinity groups, demographic information (age, gender, etc.), etc. will probably remain. The other value from targeting is that you can see which group or subgroup has greater engagement. This can help you build better content or refine your audience.
As I mentioned early, contests, and promotions are ways to drive engagement and shares. However, they need to be used sparingly. You do not want to train your followers to expect them. Otherwise, they will probably wait until the promotion to interact with you.
Varying your content types, such as video, live streams, pictures, gifs, are ways to keep the content fresh and not have to be as reliant on promotions and contests to drive engagement.
Some have overused Facebook groups in the past several years. People are becoming more jaded about them. If there is some reason for them to exist and a useful meeting place to exchange ideas or information on a regularly scheduled basis, then they can still work.
If you choose to use groups, then have a fixed time every week or month for some valuable piece of content that is shared exclusively in the group. Facebook live and videos only to the group are both good examples.
Facebook live is a great way to engage with your audience live and real time. Humans respond to faces more than voices, and definitely more than text. This is a great tool to use in groups. Having a live broadcast, weekly or monthly, provides a reason for group members to join and to stay active.
Even if they cannot join the Facebook live session, we can set the recording on playback so they can view it at their leisure.
Even outside of groups, video can be a powerful marketing tool. Video is a great medium to allow your personality to shine through. Video consumption via social media is on the rise and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
Facebook marketplace is another outstanding feature for your business if you sell products. It can be another way to drive visibility and awareness. It’s typically best when it’s an exclusive deal on Facebook. It gives user more of a reason to engage and purchase.
If you are not using Facebook as a marketing tool for small business, you are likely missing out on opportunities to drive awareness, consideration, and/or sales.
There are four important points that I would like to close with
Brian Cairns, CEO of Prostrategix Consulting. Over 25 years of business experience as a corporate executive, entrepreneur, and small business owner. For more information, please visit my LinkenIn profile
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