You know you have to be on Facebook. There’s no question about that. The problem you and thousands, probably tens of thousands, of business owners face is, “I’m on Facebook. Now, what do I do?”
Profiles are for individuals. Pages are for companies and other organizations.
Since you have a small business, you’ll want to create a page by going to the main Facebook Pages page and clicking on Create Your Own in the upper right. The only cases in which I recommend only using a Facebook Profile are when you’re a public figure of some sort like a politician, celebrity, or sports star. In those cases, you can just allow people to subscribe to the updates you post publicly on your profile, and this way, you don’t have to bother splitting your attention and time between a profile and a page.
Interact with Your Fans through Asking Questions
For you to attract and maintain friends and customers on Facebook, you have to give them an experience that they 1) value and 2) can’t get anywhere else. Sadly, most small businesses think they can just post pictures of the latest products or bits of information about what happened recently at the company, and people will love that. The truth is that posting about products often makes people feel like you’re just asking them to by and that the goings on in your office, store, or whatever else have to be really exciting. Otherwise, your posts are just noise.
Let’s say you run a showroom that sells bath furnishings. Your customers are people remodeling, or building, their own bathrooms and their contractors. When one of them comes into your showroom, pick up on what they really like. Then, after they leave, see if they like you on Facebook…hopefully, you asked them to before they left though. Post a picture of something you think they might like and mention the person with something like, “We thought that Lin Wormley might love this for his new bathroom. What do you think, Lin?”
When you mention one person by name, it’s common for others to take notice, so you might get some likes or even comments from other people. I worked on some things like this with a coffee shop once. Frequently, we would post a beautiful looking latte or even a new odd creation from a barista, and we would tag a customer, whose name we had just learned. The thing that we had to ask for from the staff was, “Give us a customer’s name, talk to them while you’re making their drink so that you learn about what interests them, and then tell them that we’ll give them a shout out on our page the next time we have something they’ll like.”
Post Interesting Content
As a Facebook marketer, you need to attract friends, start a conversation, and keep it going. Conversation pieces need to be selected carefully and should be of public interest. Make sure that what you post or share in terms of videos, photos, audio, or ideas is interesting and will keep people talking about it. Be vigilant about the content you post on your Facebook page, keeping it fresh and up to date.
One of the best ways to figure out what’s working for you is to set a schedule where you have a content type – video, audio, trivia, news, etc – combined with a message type – question, statement, customer call out, humor, etc. Put together a schedule where you cycle through every possible combination of these and then see which ones got the most response. For bonus points, you can also track this by time of day and day of week to really see what works for you and your audience. Once you find out, focus on the things that give you the best return.
Facebook Insights will give you a lot of information on what’s working, but my preference is to use something like PageLever or Edgerank Checker because these and other similar services do almost all of the measurement work for you.
Have Contests to Promote Fan Building
We all love to win things, and we love the thrill of knowing that we just might be picked for a contest or competition. It makes us feel special. You need to create this feeling for your fans. If you’re a local furniture shop, hold a contest where everyone that likes your page and gives you their email address will be entered to win a certain piece of furniture or a $100 gift card. If you’re a plumber, give away an hour’s worth of work anytime that person wants it.
One of the keys here is to not just get people to like your page and give you their email address (hello email marketing), but also to make sure that your page is worth liking whether you were to give away something or not. Having a page that posts engaging, interesting, and compelling content ensures that your new fans will not just unlike you as soon as the contest ends.
While social media is great and Facebook can do a lot for you, don’t forget that you don’t ultimately control your Facebook page like you do your store or website or email list. If Facebook decides to make a change to how it works tomorrow, you can’t do anything about it. As a result, you should cultivate the best page you can, but remember to motivate your fans to sign up for email, give you a call, or connect to you through as many other channels as you have so that, if anything ever does happen to your Facebook page, you’ll have another channel to connect to your customers through.