In just 10 years, Facebook has changed the way businesses market to customers. In these days of multi-channel marketing, you can't run a small business without having a Facebook presence.
No matter whether you use Facebook personally, chances are, your customers are there every day. With 110 million daily mobile users alone, you can't afford not to have a presence on the social network. Your customers are already seeing ads from their other favorite brands and stores pop up in the right-hand side, as well as in their news feed, so you might as well be there, too. Here are four steps to help you bring your brand up to speed on Facebook:
Announce your new Facebook page with a flourish. Put the Facebook logo on your newspaper ads and store inserts and blast it on your website. Make an even bigger splash by announcing something special such as a new product or service along with your new social media presence. My favorite local bakery, Daisy Cakes, just announced a new KickStarter campaign on its Facebook page. Tanay, one of the co-owners, created a video announcement to ask for donations for the launch of their new Dessert Room.
Give your customers a reason to like you. Incentivize your customers to become your Facebook "friend" by offering coupons and discounts that they can only find on your Facebook page. Encourage them to "share" this treat with their friends to increase your number of "likes." As long as you provide an interesting incentive to keep your customers coming back, such as breaking news of specials or previews of new products and services, customers will be happy to see you on their Facebook feed. I love to give gifts from Cheryl's Cookies and Brownies, so I quickly followed them on Facebook. Now, I regularly receive free shipping offers or coupons for 50 percent off my favorite cookie gifts.
Engage your customers in a lively conversation on Facebook. Once you have a loyal Facebook following, start a two-way conversation with them. Ask interesting questions, respond to their comments and thank them for their ideas and suggestions, even when they might not be something you thought you wanted to hear. When your customers feel heard, they will know that you are taking their interests seriously and will keep following you.
You can also use this space to become an expert who your customers can rely on for trends and scoops. FlyingScarfs is a new social enterprise created by Air Force pilots who served in Afghanistan. Its Facebook page is filled with photos of the beautiful scarves woven by the Afghan widows they support, along with many articles about building peace in the Middle East through economic development. These pilots maintain a lively conversation with their many followers as they offer many interesting ideas for us to think about.
Reward your brand ambassadors. You will be able to quickly see which of your customers respond to your questions and comments on Facebook or send you suggestions or ideas. Thank them publicly and send them rewards for their loyalty. You might even consider posting pictures of them and their ideas as thanks, too. The most recent Edelman Trust Barometer Survey (2014) continues to find that 62 percent of customers trust "someone like themselves." Use the power of your most loyal brand ambassadors to spread the news about your brand in ways that are credible and trustworthy to other prospective customers.
Facebook is just one way that you can integrate your marketing message into the daily lives of your customers. It is a way to remind them you are there, when they are ready to make a purchase or reach out and ask a question. Use Facebook to help you become a useful resource for your customers whom they can rely on and trust.