If you run or manage a small business, Facebook Live might sound like the latest social media fad you’re too busy to worry about. It’s already enough work to create and post content on Facebook (and Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and Snapchat). Now you have to play TV reporter, too, broadcasting video live online?
But small businesses that dismiss Facebook Live may be missing opportunities to connect with customers on a platform that’s uniquely personal. Using live video, businesses can host Q&As, tutorials, and behind-the-scenes tours, answering real-time questions that help form relationships with leads and customers. Plus, for small businesses struggling with organic reach on Facebook, live video can offer a shortcut to the top of the News Feed.
For the following four businesses, Facebook Live isn’t a burden but a direct boost to sales and marketing efforts. Check out how a stamp manufacturer, a clothing seller, a voice-over training company, and a marriage counselor are using Facebook Live to help grow their businesses—and get some inspiration for your own business.
Unity Stamp Co.: Promoting products through tutorials
A person with minimal craftiness might not know what to do with the rubber stamps manufactured and sold by Unity Stamp Co. But on Facebook Live, they can watch the products come to life as Unity staff members create greeting cards, coloring books, journal pages, and other creative projects.
For the company based in the small town of New London, Minnesota, Facebook Live tutorials are more authentic than the highly produced and edited crafting tips seen on Pinterest and YouTube. With a live video, viewers get a realistic representation of what the craft entails, which sometimes includes learning from the mistakes made on air.
“A lot of people in our industry are very scripted and want everything to be perceived as perfect,” said Whitney Magnuson, who oversees marketing and social media for the company started by her mother-in-law, Angela. “That’s not us or the brand.”’
Since founding the company in 2007, Angela Magnuson has been the approachable face of Unity, chatting with customers on Facebook and commenting on their crafts. But in recent years, as Facebook’s algorithm changed to favor posts from friends over businesses, she struggled to produce the kind of engagement she used to see. She resorted to posting on Facebook hourly, trying to reach more people by sharing more content.
An alternative emerged last year when her daughter-in-law joined the company and Facebook Live debuted.
“When Live came out, it totally transformed the business,” Whitney Magnuson said.
With Facebook Live videos prioritized in the News Feed, Unity’s first live broadcast netted $12,000 in sales. Whitney and Angela Magnuson now host Facebook Live tutorials three to four times a week, using tutorials to highlight new and discounted items. Along the way, they chat with their customers the way Angela used to, asking them about their family traditions during a holiday-card tutorial or about their ideas for new stamps.
To extend the broadcast’s reach, Whitney Magnuson pushes the video in promotional and follow-up emails via Infusionsoft and in Facebook ads that target new audiences. The company’s most-viewed video, a “Brown Thursday” promotion two weeks before Black Friday, earned more than 54,000 views.
Facebook Live has become such a reliable way to advertise products that the company has filmed impromptu broadcasts on days when sales were slow.
“If we go on a hiatus from Live, we notice it in sales for sure,” she said. “It really does matter.”
Lauren Romero: Selling live on air
As an independent sales consultant for the women’s fashion company LuLaRoe, Lauren Romero isn’t allowed to list her products on a website, like a typical e-commerce retailer would. She also can’t predict which products she can even offer for sale: LuLaRoe manufactures less than 5,000 of the same item and sends consultants their inventory as a random assortment of styles and sizes.
Given those constraints, most consultants sell LuLaRoe clothes through in-home parties, as in the days of Tupperware and Mary Kay, as well as by posting photos of items for sale on Facebook pages and groups.
But Romero sells her LuLaRoe clothing almost entirely through Facebook Live. Since October 2016, when she began transitioning from using Facebook photos to Facebook Live, her sales have more than doubled—from $20,000 per month to $50,000 per month.
Learn how 4 small businesses are using FB Live to boost sales dramatically
“There’s something about the impulsivity and not knowing what’s coming next that’s made people jump on this type of sale platform,” Romero said.
Romero and her husband, Andy, host two to four Facebook Live sales weekly from their Seattle home, broadcasting inside a private group with 20,000 members. When Romero showcases each item, viewers race to be the first to claim it in the comments. She then excitedly announces which viewer “won” the product.
“It feels like you hit a jackpot; you’re playing slots and you won,” Romero said. “But in all honesty, they’re just buying an item.”
Payment is handled later through a Google Form, but by the end of a live sale, Romero typically “sells” up to 200 items. Because it takes two to four hours to run through the inventory, Romero knows she needs to create excitement before and during the event.
Before each Facebook Live, Romero posts preview photos and sends text messages to those who have signed up for sale reminders. During the live sale, viewers get to know the Romeros (and their love for dancing to ‘90s music on air)—and each other. Romero asks viewers about their families; viewers chat with each other about sizes and styles. When she notices the conversation waning, Romero hosts an impromptu giveaway, offering a free pair of leggings to the tenth person who comments.
Romero never expected Facebook Live to become the engine of her business: With her first live sale, she merely intended to save herself time from photographing each item. She attributes her success on Facebook Live to the same attributes needed for any other type of sales.
“You have to keep growing and building your following, just like any other product, any other sale, any other spokesperson,” she said. “You’re nurturing the relationship. If we can send a thank-you note or ask how their kid is doing, those people realize you care about them.”
Such A Voice: Offering a limited-time promotion
More than 13,000 people were interested in becoming a voice-over actor—at least enough to sign up for emails from Such A Voice—but they hadn’t yet registered for any online or in-person training classes.
Typically, Such a Voice offers a promotion on training two or three times a year, during slow seasons for the South Burlington, Vermont-based business. In January, the staff thought of a new twist on the same promotion: What if they could persuade prospects to take the plunge not only by offering a discount but by showing them how a voice-over is done?
In the company’s first Facebook Live tutorial, instructor Brian Thon took viewers behind the scenes of a voice-over recording—explaining his studio equipment and set-up, critiquing his own performances, and discussing how to get started with a voice-over career. Toward the end of the video, Thon directed viewers to a landing page for a limited-time promotion offering training with a special bonus: a studio equipment package.
The result: More than $75,000 in sales—all of which stemmed from the Facebook Live event. The company’s previous promotion had grossed $103,000, but it took place over a week, not over a 36-minute video.
The key to success, said CEO Ben Werlin, was email promotion and follow-up. Using Infusionsoft, the company segmented its list to include only prospects, not existing customers, and emailed them two days before the Facebook Live. After the broadcast, Such A Voice posted the Facebook Live video to its sales page and emailed it to the same list. As a result, the video viewership rose to 1,800, up from the 300 people who had watched it live.
Throughout the live video, viewers commented with questions about voice-over techniques, career options, and pricing—something that may not have occurred had the promotion only taken place via email.
“It was kind of a grassroots way to show people what we do,” Wellin said. “People are just so comfortable on Facebook. It’s a place where they feel at home.”
Couples Academy: Hosting a weekly show
Not long ago, appearing on a TV or radio show would have been a rare opportunity for a small business. Now, thanks to platforms like Facebook Live, small businesses don’t need the invitation—they can host the shows, themselves.
That’s what Hasani Pettiford is doing with Couples Academy, the Atlanta-based marriage-counseling business he runs with his wife, Danielle. Every Monday night at 9 p.m., Pettiford takes to Facebook Live for Infidelity Recovery, a 30-minute show dedicated to relationship advice for couples struggling in their marriages.
In marketing his signature offering, a three-day private marriage counseling intensive, Pettiford is essentially selling himself. Video has long helped prospective customers get comfortable with his personality and approach before committing to working with him. But Facebook Live feels even more personal, resulting in more leads than Pettiford’s YouTube videos.
“They feel like, ‘I can ask you a question when I want’ I can make a comment when I want,’” Pettiford said. “There’s so much more familiarity. It takes away the ‘oh my God, there’s an expert’ scenario.”
Although Couples Academy has 15,000 followers on Facebook, Pettiford has found broadcasting from his personal page—which isn’t subject to Facebook’s algorithm that limits the visibility of business posts—results in more views. Using a software called Live Leap, he syndicates the videos to his business page, as well as several Facebook groups he manages.
Using a personal page also starts more conversations with viewers. When Pettiford receives a friend request, he sends a message that usually elicits a response: “Thank you for being my friend. How may I serve you?” The Facebook interactions are allowing him to connect with more people in more places than ever before: Recently, Pettiford gained a client in London, which he attributes to Facebook Live.
“People are searching and reading all types of material online, but it’s hard for them to connect the dots,” Pettiford said. “Facebook Live allows me to have a one-on-however-many encounter with people in a personal way. They’re able to experience me before they actually experience me.”