Facebook has changed the game for small businesses ever since its launch 12 years ago. More than 40 million companies now utilize the social network to create pages, invite communities to events, advertise and engage with customers. It is hard to believe that a mere 13 years ago, most entrepreneurs used only the Yellow Pages and print newspapers to spread the word about their businesses.
Are you a new entrepreneur wanting to make the most of your Facebook presence this year? If so, here are four ideas that can help increase your visibility in no time.
1. Get creative with your responses.
A customer -- or potential customer -- is a captive audience during the short time he or she decides to comment on your page. So, seize the attention of that person by responding quickly -- within a few minutes -- to any content customers post. Too busy to monitor your Facebook page all day? Dedicate an employee to maintain your social media, or consider assigning a staffer to monitor it for a three-hour block, to be followed by someone else for the next three hours and so on -- whereby you spread the responsibility.
Also, instead of responding with text, prop up your smartphone and upload a video message aimed at the person making a comment. Thank this individual for engaging with you and answer his or her questions, including this person's name. We started doing this a few years ago and have seen our customer engagement soar through the roof.
2. Utilize remarketing.
As a consumer, have you ever noticed that after going to a website to purchase something and deciding not to buy, you open your Facebook page only to see an ad for that exact company? Does that experience ever make you think twice and return to make the purchase you previously considered?
Advertisers -- many of them small businesses -- bank on that outcome. The concept of capturing recent website visitors with strategically placed ads is called remarketing, or retargeting. It is incredibly effective (we’ve used it for years), and Facebook sells the option as part of its advertising choices.
3. Don’t sell.
This is an oldie but a goodie that everyone knows but is still a solid reminder for entrepreneurs using Facebook. The site isn’t meant for hard selling, but for engagement and authentic conversation. The minute you try to hawk your product or start posting every day about how great you are, is the minute you will turn off potential customers.
Using Facebook for business can be compared with creating an in-person relationship with a future client. That relationship needs to be fostered slowly, and trust must be built before a purchase can be considered.
So, what can you do? Post interesting articles about your industry and include your commentary, or blogs that offer helpful tips for your customers. Get silly and post a video of your employees during a team-building session, or showcase one new employee per week with a short Q&A about that person and his or her interests outside of work.
Try holding a contest where you ask customers to submit responses to a question (this doesn’t have to be about your business or industry) or upload photos and offer a gift certificate as a prize. Bottom line: Focus on genuine communication with your audience and watch your following grow.
4. Showcase your philanthropic efforts and ask followers to participate.
For the month of February, we decided to partner with the Phoenix Children’s Hospital to raise funds for the construction of its new pediatric trauma center, and posted our effort on Facebook. We told followers that for every “share,” we would donate $1 to the cause. It was a smashing success. As of the writing of this story (only a few days since we launched the effort), we’d already attracted more than 7,000 shares.
Any small business can do this. Call up a local cause close to your heart and prepare a fund-raising drive via social media. Can’t donate $1 for every “like” or “share”? No problem, stick with 25 cents. Or agree to donate community service hours based on how much interaction you attract. Either way, you are sure to increase compassion toward your company with posts like this, and that is always good for business.
What Facebook strategies work for your business?