Using Facebook to Market a Small Business

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Using Facebook to Market a Small Business

FacebookIn this instalment of Words that Bite, I investigate whether you should use Facebook to market your small business.

If you are thinking of using Facebook to promote your small business, make sure you plan your marketing campaign.

Is Facebook the answer for small business?

 

There is a lot of discussion about whether Facebook is the answer for marketing a small business. Two main factions have emerged in the debate.

The Facebook enthusiasts

At one end of the spectrum are the Facebook enthusiasts, who say that if you are serious about marketing your business, then you must embrace Facebook and use it to engage your customers or clients. After all, currently there are said to be 1.26 million Facebook users, who each day dish out 4.5 billion ‘likes’.

The enthusiasts then list all the high-profile companies that have used Facebook to boost sales. Then they tell small business owners, ‘If you aren’t getting results, you must be doing it wrong’.

Liking FacebookThe Facebook sceptics

At the other end of the spectrum you have the Facebook sceptics, who point out that, although small business owners are flocking in droves to social media, they are not seeing a return on their investment.

According to a recent article in Forbes, around 60 per cent of small business owners say they have not seen a return on their investment in online engagement.

How to work out whether or not you should embrace Facebook as a marketing tool

The first thing to understand about Facebook is that it was never designed to sell products or services. Instead, it was set up to enable people to have conversations and share content.

To be frank, most people use Facebook to:

  • Post photographs of them having a great time.
  • Post photographs of their beautiful children or grandchildren.
  • Post photographs of their fluffy or feathery pets.
  • Share content that interests or entertains them.

So, when it comes to setting up a Facebook page for a small business, you need to have a pretty clear idea about why you are doing it and how much work is involved.

Here are some questions to ask yourself before you decide to set up a Facebook page for your business:

Question No. 1: Do you have the content to justify a Facebook page?

One of the most important things to consider before you launch a Facebook page for your business is whether or not you have sufficient content for it.

Obviously, one of the ways to build any business is by word of mouth. Facebook has the potential to magnify the effect of conventional word of mouth because it has the capacity to reach so many people.

Therefore, you need to consider what exactly you are going to post on your Facebook page and why anyone would want to see it.

The possibilities include:

  • Linking to a blog.
  • Exclusive offers/deals.
  • Photographs.
  • Videos.
  • Stories.
  • Invitations to contribute.

You also need to commit to updating your content regularly. People should look forward to your posts.

Question No. 2: Are you willing to use Facebook to listen to your customers?

One of the most important things about Facebook is that it is a place where people have a conversation – a two-way conversation. This means that it is the ideal place to listen to your customers.

To put it bluntly, if you are only interested in using your Facebook page to hawk your wares, then think twice before you set up your account. For a business’s Facebook page to have any chance of succeeding, it needs to be a place where customers can provide feedback.

From a marketing perspective, Facebook is most successful when it is used as a forum to build loyalty, answer customer-service questions, and build a community.

This should eventually lead to sales.

Why?

Well, the idea is that through Facebook, you build trust and loyalty. In turn, that trust and loyalty will lead to sales.

Question No. 3: Are you willing to use Facebook to personalise your brand?

Facebook is most effective when it is used to connect a brand to customers in a personal way.

You shouldn’t just share valuable content (based around education, information, inspiration, exclusives, and entertainment). Instead, you should use Facebook to tell stories and give customers a chance to see what goes on behind the scenes of your business.

Question No. 4: Are you willing to ‘engage’ your customers/clients in a conversation?

Since social media was developed to enable people to communicate and have conversations, you need to be willing to take the ‘listening’ aspect one step further and ‘engage’ in conversations with the people who visit your Facebook page.

Answering people’s questions and comments obviously takes time and energy, so you need to be sure you are prepared to make that commitment.

Question No. 5: Are you willing to accept that ‘engaging’ people on Facebook may not translate into sales?

Another important element of how Facebook works is that just because people ‘like’ your business and talk to you online, they won’t necessarily actually buy your product or service.

In short, ‘likes’ do not automatically translate into ‘sales’.

On a more encouraging note, research indicates that 51 per cent of people are more likely to buy a product after liking it on Facebook, and Facebook’s fans tend to purchase twice as many products as non-fans.

Question No. 6: Are you willing to pay for Facebook advertisements?

Business people can get very excited about social media because they see it as a free tool to market their business. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. There is little doubt a Facebook marketing campaign that has any impact will cost you money. In addition, there is always a risk that the dollars spent will have a negligible impact on sales.

One way of promoting your Facebook page is to purchase Facebook advertisements.

As Facebook itself tells you, it has the capacity to connect with 1 billion people. However, it will also help you connect with the right people (ie, the people who might be interested in your product or service).

By this, Facebook means that you can tailor your marketing to a very specific demographic, taking into account:

  • Age.
  • Gender.
  • Interests.
  • Location.

Question 7: Are you willing to pay for your posts to be promoted on Facebook?

It is important to understand that even though someone has ‘liked’ your Facebook page, they will not automatically see every post you add to your page. The figures seem to indicate that posts are distributed to a mere 16 per cent of fans. I have also seen figures that are as low as 1 – 5 per cent. Yes, you do all that work, build up thousands of ‘likes’, and then, when you post, at best it is fed to 16 per cent of your fans.

This means that if you want to broaden your audience, you need to pay for a Facebook promotion. If you pay between $5 and $300, your post will be seen by between 500 and 5000 people. The costs depends on several factors, including your geographical location and how many people you are trying to reach.

Basically, it is vital to understand that when you set up a Facebook page, you are building up a database of fans, not building up a database of fans you can contact whenever you want. When you want to send them an advertisement, you pay Facebook for the privilege.

People tend to think that Facebook is a public service. It isn’t. It is a business and, in order to justify its existence, it needs to make money.

Question No. 8: Are you willing to be patient?

Building up a successful marketing campaign through Facebook is a slow process. It is not going to happen overnight; you need to put in the hard work and be patient.

Most experts say that you may have to wait six to nine months before you see results from a Facebook campaign.

To summarise:

If you are considering setting up a Facebook page for your small business, you need to:

  • Understand that Facebook was not set up to sell products and services.
  • Appreciate that Facebook is primarily about ‘engaging’ people in lively conversations.
  • Be willing to use Facebook to listen and talk to potential customers and clients.
  • Be prepared to pay for advertisements and promotions.
  • See your Facebook business page as a long-term marketing strategy.

In the next instalment of Words that Bite, I am going to look at four small businesses that have set up successful Facebook marketing campaigns and at why those campaigns are effective.

Are you too busy running your business to think about whether you should embark on a social media marketing strategy? Would you like someone to look at the issue for you? If so, call the Pink Rottweiler on +61 (0)409 609 903 or email me at info@pinkrottweilercopywriting.com.au.

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