Many small businesses are using social media marketing strategies to expand their reach and becoming active on Facebook. With more than 1 billion people on the social network (and nearly 165 million in the U.S. alone), Facebook is where the consumers are. However, Facebook is a much different game for marketing than print or other forms of media advertising. These are three things you need to know before getting your small businesses started on Facebook:
Facebook is free to use, but not always free for advertising
If you’re a Facebook user who just wants to connect with friends, colleagues, classmates, and family, the site is totally free. However, if you’re looking to grow your business through Facebook, be prepared to spend both time and money. Just as there’s a different price point to read a newspaper compared to advertising in one, there’s a cost to become more popular and reach more fans through Facebook.
Marketing through Facebook requires attention to detail, motivation, and a little bit of money. While there are cost-effective ways to grow your brand on Facebook (word of mouth and in-store signage are some of the more effective ways), you may find out that you’ll have to take part in Facebook’s advertising offers to reach more people. Make sure the people who come into your brick-and-mortar store know that you have a Facebook page, and give them some reason to like your page. However, expecting Facebook marketing to be free just because it’s free for you to play FarmVille will likely only lead to frustration. Understand that there are costs, but there are definitely benefits to building your business on Facebook.
Don’t use Facebook as a self-promotion tool
Yes, your business may be amazing. Your customers probably already know that. It’s why they liked the page. The most effective way to market to your fans through Facebook is to connect with them. If people feel as if they’re just getting sold, they will be less likely to engage with your posts. Facebook is a great medium for conversation between a business and a potential customer. Don’t be afraid to answer comments, even if it’s just a simple, “Thanks!”
Businesses can also use Facebook to gain feedback, to see what their fans want and what they like best about your business. Just as you’d ask a customer in the store what brought them in today, it’s OK to ask why they liked the page. Maybe they live in the neighborhood and love your business, or maybe they were hooked in by a discount you offered. Knowing more about your customer base is key for Facebook marketing success. Once you know more about them, you can tailor posts to what your fans want to see.
Understand that not everyone will see your posts
Facebook has this tricky algorithm that determines which posts are seen by fans. Many people call this EdgeRank, and there’s a plethora of information about this online, but what it boils down to is this: Facebook wants to make sure users see the posts with which they will engage. A fan who has liked, commented on, or shared your business’ posts in the past will be more likely to see your posts in the future. Those who have ignored or negatively engaged (clicked hide) will be less likely to see your posts. This is why getting engagement is key. By encouraging fans to like, comment, and share, it makes it more likely that the people who have liked your page will see your posts. It definitely takes a time to master, but take a little time to figure out what your best posts were (Facebook has a few tools to measure this), and why they were so successful. They will help you determine which content resonates the most with your fans.
Justin Lafferty is the co-editor of AllFacebook, one of the leading independent sites for all news about Facebook. He lives in Berkeley, Calif., near San Francisco, and has won awards as a print journalist for writing and photography. Follow him on Twitter, @JLaffertyAF.