Social Media for the Small Business – Part 1 (Facebook)
By Sheri Sullivan
Should I Join the Masses?
I get the question, from small business clients (B2B) all the time, which social media should I be on? There is no “One-fits-all” answer (no easy answer) because it’s very specific to the business, their products/services, their capabilities (time and dedication to the upkeep), and their market.
There are approximately 200+ Social Media sites, some are industry specific, but most people (consumers that don’t live under a rock) are well versed on the top Social Media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn (yes, LinkedIn is a social media site). Snapchat is emerging into an eye-opener for marketers, but still getting some side glances for now. There are specific questions to ask about your business before you decide which social media avenue/avenues you want to traverse.
According to B2C (Business to Community), ninety percent (90%) of young adults—ages 18 to 29—use social media (compared to just 35% of those over age 65). Also, if you market to millennials, at least a third (of millennials) indicate that social media is one of their preferred methods for communicating with businesses.
Any way you look at it, there’s a definite need, for a business (large or small) to have a presence on at least one Social Media site, but, which one? Every business needs to ask themselves (owners, marketing person, social media person, sales person, etc.) some specific questions before deciding which to start with, or stay with!
Last time I looked, Facebook had over 1.8 billion users and is a Social Media site that has stood the test of time, and is still growing despite making several changes on their platform (which caused cries to be heard all over the world)! Facebook as a good starting point as your market (your customers and your prospects) are most likely on Facebook already and now is your chance to interact with them!
I’d like to provide a brief overview of Facebook and how small businesses (you) can get the most out of using it!
Things to Consider and Research:
- Who is your market?
- Are they on Facebook?
- What is your goal? Let’s face it, we are all trying to get more sales in the end; however, that’s not always the goal (at least not a tangible one), nor should it be. It’s important to break it down a bit:
ü Are you looking for company/brand exposure?
ü Are you trying to get Likes, Shares, Interaction?
ü Are you wanting to get more traffic to your website?
Simply Measured (a top Social Media Researcher), indicates that the top three goals for small business’ social media marketing programs are brand awareness (74%), website traffic (53%), and lead generation (41%). Obviously, the poll had some overlapping goals! What a great segue into goals; remember, it’s important to set goals and measure those goals… regularly and consistently. Facebook provides a great analytics tool to help you measure and manage your Facebook content. If you use it in conjunction with your site’s (if you have a site) Google Analytics (you do have Google Analytics, don’t you?), there is a lot of data about the traffic to your Facebook page, your website traffic and where the two meet in the middle (if your Facebook content is done right, they will meet)!
Once you’ve made the decision to take the plunge to have a presence on Facebook, the first step is to understand the commitment you need to make before you set up your business page or go live. The first thing to consider is whether you can truly put in the time to “feed the baby” (so to speak). If you just want to set it up and hope for the best, then you’ve basically killed your baby and it not only won’t help your business, but it may very well hurt it! Facebook users are not stupid and they can tell if you’re nurturing your Facebook page or if you’re basically MIA. If you’re willing to put in the time and commitment, then you are ready.
Taking the Plunge:
In order to set up a Business Page, you first have to have a personal account set up in which you would then create a “page” from there. Don’t let this scare you off, all pages on Facebook require this! There are many resources on Facebook to get information about setting up pages (whether business or personal), all you need to do is search for it.
The first step is to decide which type of business you are (or Facebook category). Basically, if you have a small business in the area, and you want people to come to your location, then you are most likely going to want to set up a Local Business Page/Place, as you are a Local Business. If you provide services via internet only, then you’ll want chose the category for Company, Organization, or Institution. The primary difference is that a Local Business/Place allows you to input your location, hours, etc. and this helps people to get to your physical location, … and when it’s open for business!
Once you get your profile page built (with relevant profile image – oh yeah, there are rules about that too, so be sure to research) and all areas completed, you’re ready to go live! Please make sure that your tabs (About, Pictures, etc. are relevant). There’s nothing worse than going to a Facebook page that has tabs to go to various areas of the page, with nothing there… usually this is because they didn’t know to remove tabs they weren’t currently using. Be sure that your profile is complete (fill in as much as you can) and is accurate (in fact, all of your listings on the internet should have the same information); this helps your ranking when people search for your product and services).
People genuinely want to see friends (owners of local businesses even) do well, so they will Like and hopefully share with their friends and/or invite them to Like the page also.
Think of your market… your customers and prospects …. who are their influencers? Where do they get their local news? Go to those pages and Like the pages (as your business page). Facebook is a giving environment and most businesses will reciprocate with the response of Liking your page. Take a hard look at your community (with your target in mind) and Like any pages that might offer community events or opportunities for you to like, share or interact with their posts.
Ask everyone in your organization to Like your business page and ask them to invite their friends to Like the page as well. You should also invite all of your friends to Like your page…. spread the word!
Congratulations, now you have a legitimate and engaging Facebook Page! Set aside time, better yet, make a schedule for yourself (or someone in your organization) to dedicate to Facebook a few times per week. Familiarize yourself with the Facebook community, reading posts and Liking other businesses (as your business). This helps you to stay informed about what’s going on in your community and with your clients and prospects.
Post something at least a couple of time per week, but keep in mind that not all people interact with their Facebook page during the week, but towards the end of the week (Thursday, Friday, and into the weekend) they try to catch up on what they may have missed. It’s a good idea to experiment with your posts (days/times) and look at your analytics to see where you’re getting the most views, likes, shares.
What To Post?
There’s no secret formula for what to post, just welcome people to your page! Many Facebook pages start off with a bang and then fizzle out over time and it’s obvious by looking at their page that they are not actively involved. Let’s face it, we’re all busy and social media is not always a priority, but it should be!
Most statistics show that more people engage with, share, like and enjoy image posts. Anytime you can incorporate pictures into your posts, you’re more likely to get a Like, share, or some type of interaction.
Limit the number of people that can post information in order to maintain a consistent tone for your business/brand. You can set up various people to have specific Page Roles on your page, so you don’t have to do it alone! Maybe even set up Facebook guidelines so that your employees know how important this is to you and the company.
It’s also very important to respond to posts on your page, even if it is a complaint (especially if it is a complaint). Remember the number of people on Facebook? They are not all viewing your page or this specific complaint, but people are watching to see how you will react! If you’re not sure how to respond, research it!
Resources – About your products, services, or industry: Post specific information (hopefully relevant) and pictures about your products, services or your business. Utilize keywords in your posts and allow your business page to be a resource for customers and prospects to get information about your products, services and business. Become an expert in your community!
News: If you have a news page or blog on your website, it is beneficial to copy the url and paste the link into a new post (share the news), creating a link-back to your website (which gets people to your site) and is advantageous for search rankings, and hopefully will come tailor-made with an image already attached. Plus, you only had to come up with the content/image once!
About You: Make it personal … use humor… brag … let people get to know you, your employees and your company! This is your chance to let your hair down and act goofy if you want. Even if you don’t want to, let your employees have fun with it (always being professional of course)! Brainstorm ways to have fun with this page!
Pictures and/or posts of employees in your business (don’t forget to tag them). People (your customers and prospects) really want to know more about you, your employees and your business. They genuinely like to see what’s going on, and especially if they’re getting a personal glimpse into your business world.
What Not to Post!
Some organizations utilize a third-party company (and there are many, such as Hootsuite) to create and send industry-specific (or at least within a category) content to post or they post for you. These posts are generic in nature and it is apparent that they are not genuine or from you, so be aware of that!
Avoid posting about current news issues (whether local or national) because your personal opinion doesn’t belong on a Facebook Business page or any Social Media outlet. It’s like the expression, “don’t talk about religion or politics” because you’re going to offend someone so it’s better to keep it to yourself!
You Did It!
Congratulations, you did it! Place your Facebook badge on your printed material and spread the word that you’re on Facebook. Ask people to Like your page and/or post a review about your company, products or services! As you traverse the Facebook landscape you will see what your market wants (questions they have, products or services they want) and then you can respond accordingly. Be active and have fun, and don’t forget to measure!