Love it or loathe it – of all the available social media sites, Facebook is the most popular for small business owners wanting to grow their business (even if they don’t use it for personal reasons) – and with good reason. For one, there are over a billion people each day using Facebook. For another, most small businesses are keen to promote themselves within their local area and Facebook is perfect for that.
All that said, the people at Facebook don’t make it easy for you. They introduce new algorithms seemingly every day to make it very difficult to grow a business for free through their site. Don’t be put off by this though, Facebook is still an invaluable tool to grow your business once you understand a little on how it all works….and that’s what I’m here for……keep on reading….
How to get started
If you don’t already use Facebook personally then you’ll need to sign up for an account. Signing up to use Facebook for business, in no way commits you to using it for personal/social interactions as well if you don’t want to – if that’s the case for you then you need only provide the essential information for your account. That said – the more you are willing to embrace the concept of Facebook the more success you are likely to have with using it for your business. This doesn’t mean you suddenly need to start uploading hundreds of pictures of your family and telling everyone what you’re doing every 5 minutes – just that you might consider being present of Facebook and aim to use it. If you’re not sure how to set up an account, take a look at this step by step guide.
(If you’ve read up to this point and are feeling confused…or don’t have a clue how you’d do this yourself – give me a call – I’m always happy to help out).
Once you’ve got a personal Facebook account set up then the next thing you need to do is to get a Facebook ‘page’ for your business set up. Facebook gives a pretty good ‘how to’ on doing this. However creating a Facebook page and creating a GREAT Facebook page are two different things.
Choose a good name for the page – it needs to be easily searchable and ideally not complicated to spell. If your chosen name is already taken, avoid using numbers to create a name that is available.
Be clever in the ‘about’ section – this is your opportunity to explain what your page is about and why the user should read on! Be sure to include the most important information about what you offer here so the user understands right away why your page will be of interest to them. You should also include your URL in there so the user doesn’t have to go searching for it.
Ensure you add your ‘services’ so it’s easy for your potential customers to see how you could help them.
Once your Facebook page is live then you’ll be able to edit the full ‘about’ description. Users won’t be able to see this unless they click on it, but when they do, you want it to be good so provide as much information as possible about your business and how you came about – everyone likes a story. You should also include where you are based and how they can get in touch with you.
Your cover photo should be appropriate but also quirky and raise curiosity. As a minimum the image should speak of your professionalism and be relevant to what you offer. Always use a good quality image, never search for an image online and save it and then use that – it will be poor quality.
You also need to choose an appropriate profile picture. This is the smaller image that appears on your Facebook page and also as your avatar when you publish photos or posts. It should be relevant to your brand as hopefully as you audience see it more and more, they will begin to recognise it and associate it with your company.
Add ‘Apps’ to your page to make it a more useful and interactive experience for your visitors. ‘Apps’ are thumbnails (buttons) that appear below your cover photo and turn your page more into a mini website. The Apps take the visitors to different pages ‘within the page’. They can collect contact details or provide different types of information. They can also show a gallery of your products. Check out this site for some great info on Apps.
Ensure you include content that is useful, meaningful, interesting and/or entertaining. Your Facebook page shouldn’t be all about you or just be a place for promoting your latest offers.
Once your Facebook account and page is all set up then you’re ready to let the world know about it!
Promoting your business through Facebook
One of the biggest mistakes that many small business owners make is to immediately start bombarding their friends and family on Facebook with posts about their business asking them to share it and expect this by itself to grow a business.
Whilst your business is obviously very important to you, and no doubt your friends and family would wish you well and would want to support you, they will quickly tire of seeing those posts. Plus, your immediate network is a very small proportion of the audience available to you – there are much smarter ways of using Facebook and of keeping your social network and work networks mostly separate.
You can’t target the right people if you don’t know who they are so before you do anything else you now need to put together a list of your target audience. Men? Women? Age? Characteristics? Interests? Location? etc etc. You then need to speak, think and act like your target audience – go where they go, like what they like (within the Facebook world of course). Join relevant Facebook groups and join discussions, or start a new discussion.
Ensure you are consistently relevant. What I mean by that is rather than posting a generic message about your company in each and every group and keep going back to it to ‘bump’ it (this is when someone goes into the comments for their previous posts and literally types the word ‘bump’ or even just puts a letter or character so that the post goes back up to the top of the feed for that group – one of my pet hates) you could put together a clever, well thought out message that will hopefully entice people to like and share your post, and to visit your page. For example, if you run a dog grooming business you could join a group for dog agility enthusiasts. A post along the lines of ‘Is your four legged friend feeling hot around the collar? The UK weather can be boiling one minute and cool the next can’t it! Take advantage of our special offer on summer grooms and clips to ensure your pooch is comfortable in the coming weeks.’ Include a link to your Facebook page and use a picture to accompany the post. That post is conversational and sympathizes with a problem whilst presenting a solution. An alternative to this would be more of an informative post with details of the suitable temperatures to walking a dog to ensure they don’t suffer heat stroke. Another idea is to simply ask where people walk their dogs when it’s hot. Again – don’t forget the link to your page.
Another great way of attracting people to your page is to write an informative/interesting blog item on your website. Copy part of the blog and post it to your business Facebook page with a link to where readers can find the rest of the article and then ‘share’ that post into relevant groups around Facebook. This works really well in terms of building up your credibility and getting people both to your Facebook page and your website.
With all your posts – don’t forget the #’s. As crazy as it might sound, they do actually provide a function. They enable searches within Facebook – and in fact Google – to potentially find your post. Aim to use 4 to 5 #’s on the end of each post with the last one being your business name e.g #sandcress . So with the dog walking post above you could use #hotdog #groomerramsey #doghaircut #companyname
In terms of completely free advertising, there is a limit to what you can do. Facebook over the years has made it harder and harder to promote your business through their site without paying for it. So much so that they now have algorithms that look at your personal posts and if they find you repeatedly sharing your business page on your timeline – especially if you are clearly trying to advertise products – you may well find yourself blocked for a period of time!
Facebook Paid Advertising
Ultimately, the way to make Facebook really work for your business is through their paid advertising features. (Although I hasten to add that FB promotion, paid or otherwise does NOT work for every business type/model and it’s important to understand whether it will for yours before you waste a whole lot of time and money. If you’re not sure, give me a call for a quick chat). Done right, this can be more successful that you can possibly imagine and is in no way the ‘con’ that quite a few people seem to think that it is. Think about it – Facebook is a veritable mine of information which you – and every other Facebook user – is unwittingly feeding every single time you interact with the site. The things you search for, like, comment on – all this let’s Facebook know who you are, what you are doing in your life, where you’re based and what you are interested in. For example, if you start liking ‘Emma’s Diary’, ‘Pampers’ and baby pictures, chances are you’re pregnant or have had a baby recently.
Facebook uses this information to enable businesses to specifically target Facebook users in their advertising campaigns. This ensures that you aren’t spending your money on a ‘blanket’ campaign. Combine that with a really clever advert and the results can be astounding.
A solid Facebook campaign shouldn’t be about driving people to your Facebook page – it should be about either getting them to your website, getting their email address – or even better, both!! Don’t make the mistake of thinking that one advert will results in loads of sales – it doesn’t work like that…for anyone! Generally, people don’t buy online on impulse – especially in the business to business sector.
Any decision to purchase is nearly always affected by the ‘Continuum of Behaviour’. This is something that I go into in much more details in my marketing articles but basically it’s the decision-making process followed by a person before going ahead with a purchase of products or services. This process is followed whether they are existing customers or someone who has never heard of you before. The five steps of The Continuum of Behaviour include:
Awareness – Interest – Evaluation – Desire – Action
Whether it takes minutes or months, every individual will go through each stage before reaching the ‘action’ stage of purchasing and usually (unless they have an urgent need and no time to research) they will need a new interaction from your to move them along the continuum.
For example, you are an independent travel agent. You place an advert on Facebook about a holiday in Tenerife, they take a little look at the image and the text and ‘like’ it but then move away (awareness). They see another advert from you about another holiday, the first advert got them thinking that actually they’d quite like a holiday. They start thinking about the fun they’d have. They comment on the post and request some information (interest). You send out the information requested to them which they then look through (evaluation). You send them another, non pushy, email pointing out a couple of key features of the holiday and offering to send them any further information they might require (desire). They have a look at your website as a result of the email (then hopefully action).
Obviously not all these stages happen on Facebook but the sale was a result of a Facebook advert.
There are several different options for paid advertising on Facebook. In all the different options you can (and should) select your target audience based on gender, age, location and keywords that relate to interests. Make sure you select your ‘audience’ to be ‘people you choose through targeting’ rather than ‘people who like your page and their friends’ – this will have the most success at driving people to your website.
Boosting posts – not the best choice in my opinion. The idea here is that you pay to promote a post that you’ve put on your page. You can set a budget for the boost and spread the budget across whatever time frame you choose. The reason I don’t feel this is the best way to spend your marketing budget is two-fold – firstly, although the boosted post option is probably the quickest and easiest way of doing paid promotions through Facebook, it also has the most limited options on audience targeting. The other reason is that there seems to be a connection between boosting posts and the reduction of organic reach of free posts. With a boosted post you pay for ‘impressions’ (how many times a post is displayed), it can be very easy to waste money on this type of advertising. The one time that a boosted post might be worth considering is if you wish to boost your post just to the fans of your page and their friends.
Promoted Post – although a little more complicated to set up than a boosted post, promoted posts have a much higher success rate and return on investment. These can be particularly good to promote a competition, sale or discount, to promote a new product and/or to drive traffic to your business and/or website. Promoted posts are a relatively new thing to FB. You still are paying to promote your post to a wider audience in the same was as a boosted post but there are far more options when it comes to how you set it up and targeting your desired audience. Pros’: They are cheap – pay more to reach more people, useful for promoting an event or a special offer. Facebook is currently increasing the reach of promoted posts and making them more visible on news feed. Cons: Need to pay more to reach more people.
Adverts – Currently the most commonly used form of paid for promotion on Facebook. Pros’: They are budget friendly, generally cheaper than pay per click and you only pay for results, but they do work out slightly more than promoted posts however they do give you access to a broader audience. They are a quick way to get likes and increase brand awareness. You can test multiple adverts. Facebook offers analytics. Cons: They can sometimes be viewed as spam and are fairly easily ignored.
Lead Adverts – One of the most recent campaign types added by Facebook are ‘Lead Ads’ and they are proving very popular – with good reason. A lead ad (sometimes called a capture advert) is an advert that leads to a basic form to collect potential customer information. This is often offered in return for something, such as a top tips document or a discount voucher. Click here for more information on setting up lead adverts. Pros’: this is an excellent way to build a marketing list. They are still budget friendly and you only pay for results. Cons: They can be more involved to get set up.
Top tips for successful Facebook promotions:
- Mine audience insights. This is a fantastic tool that allows you to learn about specific audiences before risking your budget.
- Always split-test Facebook adverts. Click here for more information on split-testing. Split testing – (also known as A/B testing) is a method of experimenting with adverts in a controlled way. Basically, you put two adverts live at the same time that are identical except for 1 thing such as a different image (but all the same text etc) or small changes to the text.
- Use visuals rather than just text. The image you choose is really pertinent to how successful your promotion will be so endeavor to go for one that will give a really striking impression.
- Always accompany adverts with a landing page. It can be a wasted opportunity to send a potential lead straight to your homepage. Landing pages allow you to maximize your Facebook advertising by educating users before asking them to buy.
- Ensure that all Facebook promotion is included in your marketing strategy. Ensure that you carefully manage the budget you wish to spend on it.
If you’re feeling somewhat overwhelmed by all of that, or even just want a bit of advice, feel free to contact me – I’ll be more than happy to talk through it with you.