Facebook. It’s not just for 19-year-olds posting selfies anymore.
What started as a way for college kids to connect has grown to a 1.44 billion person social media mega-network and is now an integral part of how everyone does business – especially small businesses.
But the way businesses utilize Facebook has changed. What was once simply a game of getting the most “likes” and followers has evolved into a strategic advertising and marketing campaign, and Facebook is charging small businesses for this marketing reach. Your returns from Facebook advertising can be great, but you have to know how to turn Facebook success into actual dollars. Here are tips to help you join the small businesses using Facebook marketing to drive traffic, appeal to new and existing customers, and – ultimately – facilitate business growth.
To individual users, Facebook is ostensibly free; all they are charged is their personal information. That may seem like a small price to pay, but that demographic info is incredibly valuable when it’s sold … to businesses.
“Ever since Facebook became a ‘pay-to-play’ social medium, small businesses especially are scurrying to figure out how to best spend their ad dollars,” says Aubrey Swanson, a Miami-based Social Media Manager and Owner of Auboom Media. And Facebook allows them the most targeted reach of any ad platform.
“Anywhere from $5 to $500 can either help reach your current fans, the Facebook friends of your fans, or targeted audiences,” says Swanson. When you choose to purchase advertising through Facebook, or to “Boost” one of your existing posts, you have options to promote that post to a custom-selected audience factoring in everything from age to gender to geographic location. You can also select to promote it to people who’ve “liked” your page and their friends. The former might reach a larger audience, but the latter might yield more interaction.
Facebook recommends letting them run for at least a few business days, so you can collect enough data to see if the ad buy was worth your money.
Facebook also offers an analytics service called “Insights,” that will show you when people interact most with your ads, and what type of content (pictures, links, etc.) is most popular with your audience. It’ll also tell you who is talking about your posts, who is “checking in” to your business, and what they’re saying about it. This allows you to address complaints in real time if you have the dedicated personnel to do so.
On the positive side, it also allows you to see specifically what people are talking about at your business. Are there specific drinks or menu items at your restaurant that are getting a lot of chatter? Is there a specific trainer at your gym who’s developing a loyal following? Are your hair salon’s trendy hair styles being shared on social media by your customers? Facebook allows you to get feedback from your customers without having to ask for it. Facebook Insights is another invaluable tool in driving success.
As we’ve told you before, it is far cheaper to keep an existing customer coming back than to recruit a new one. And small businesses are not only using Facebook as a way to engage their customers, they’re using it to build their community. Features like “Fan of the Week” and business-specific Facebook groups for your best customers give them a feeling of togetherness, and can built an intensely loyal following.
But the main reason people become fans of your business page isn’t so much that they want the world to know they love your business. It’s that they want specials and discounts. And you want them to spend money at your business. So give the people what they want.
Especially if you have a web-based business, using Facebook as a sidewalk barker to entice people into your virtual store is crucial. But it requires a lot more than just posting links to your website. Creating “clickable, commentable content,” as Swanson calls it, is the key to getting a high-volume of relevant traffic to your website.
Facebook can help you see what kind of content is driving people to your site, whether it’s funny pictures, relevant blog posts, infographics or product descriptions. And when you create content you want people to share on Facebook, include a Facebook “share” button so people will be inclined to tell others about anything they like. Limit the number of social share buttons you have on a given piece of content, though. So if your marketing efforts are focused on Facebook, make that the only option people have.
You must also remember to link to your website everywhere you can, including your “about” section, on picture captions, and most importantly on any ads or boosted posts. After all, if you’re spending money on Facebook advertising, you will want people going to your website and not your Facebook page.
Because Facebook gives you such specialized information about who your audience is, and what they interact with, it’s a perfect testing ground for new ideas, products, services, or other innovations. Restaurants often A/B test new menu items, asking their fans to pick which should go on the menu. Apparel companies do the same, posting pictures of prototypes to get feedback. It’s like customer service taken to another level, where the customers are the innovators and you respond to them. And it also creates a buzz so that when the products do come out, you’ve got a large group of people already eager to try them.
“With the right strategy, Facebook is a very effective marketing tool,” says Swanson, who manages the Facebook accounts for her dozens of clients. “But at the end of the day, the most valuable return on investment is seeing the engagement with the brand’s fans. Immediately correcting a customer service issue, seeing a guest respond to a chef’s special dish, an enthusiastic fan rejoicing about his/her ticket purchase – that’s when you know all those marketing efforts are worth it. And they are.”
If you’re looking for more advanced Facebook marketing tips, please check out some of the following resources:
We hope these Facebook marketing tips will help you attract new customers, keep your current customers happy and grow your business!