Among the plethora of social networks, Facebook, with more than 900 million active monthly users, might represent the biggest marketing opportunity for companies large and small. But marketers who think that creating a Facebook page and walking away is enough should think again. From advertising opportunities to finding new customers, a lot goes into successful Facebook marketing.
Facebook keeps small-business owners in mind when it rolls out new products and services. "The more that Facebook can help small businesses grow relationships with their customers and increase sales, the better," says Sarah Smith, Facebook's director of online operations. Smith, age 35, oversees the social network's small-business growth team based in Austin, Texas.
We chatted with Smith about how marketers can make the most of Facebook for business. What follows is an edited version of our exchange:
Entrepreneur: What's most important when using Facebook for business?
Smith: Be real. People want to hear from the authentic you and have fun interacting with your business. Your customers are already on Facebook, checking out photos of their friends and videos of their niece's first steps. They're also eager to hear the story of what's really happening in your business.
Entrepreneur: For business owners, what's the most important metric to measure?
Smith: All businesses should be paying attention to the number of "People Talking About This" and friends of fans reached in their Page Insights page in your Admin Panel. Understand what types of posts are resonating with your fans and how you're getting your messages to go viral. Ideally, you should have some sort of promotion that gets customers telling you that they heard about you on Facebook, so you can start to link your sales with your Facebook activity.
Entrepreneur: What Facebook tools are underutilized by small-business owners?
Smith: Page Insights is one, which offers free market research for your business. Use it to find out who your customers are, what type of posts are getting the best response from fans and how your advertising is driving new fans, new shares or new app installs.
Entrepreneur: What does an entrepreneur need to know to get the most out of Facebook advertising?
Smith: Play around with Facebook targeting. People put their likes and interests on their Timelines, so advertising can granularly target people who would be more interested in hearing from your business. If you're running a health-food store, for instance, target people in your area who have "Vegetarian" in their profiles or health-related interests.
You can find broad categories such as expectant parents, moms, iPhone users, golf enthusiasts and even other small-business owners. Broad category targeting can help you find exactly who you want more quickly.
There's also the new Promoted Posts. From your Page, you can turn those "must see" posts -- say, for example, a celebrity comes into your restaurant -- into ads to reach more of your fans. When you see in Page Insights that a post is getting really good response from fans, you can promote those posts quickly and easily.