You can’t just say it’s a good idea to be visible and involved on social media platforms. You need to be involved as it’s become an essential part of most marketing strategies. The central objective of this online series is to help micro, small and medium businesses build, engage, and influence an audience online. Part one focuses on Facebook.
Why Facebook Pages?
Contrary to what some believe, online business marketing on Facebook benefits small, traditional businesses. Facebook Pages are free and easy to set up, and help people find your business in web searches.
Following are the four main ways Facebook can help in a business capacity:
- Increase brand awareness and visibility: According to Facebook, “more than 1 billion people use Facebook to connect with what matters to them, and 64 percent of them visit Facebook every day.” If your business can't find new customers on Facebook, maybe you should rethink why you’re in business. A Facebook Page for your business creates an additional online presence. When people feel connected to your business, they're more likely to choose your products and services.
- Drive online sales: Most small business owners are not in a position to create, manage and update their website. However, most small business owners can create, manage and update a Page on Facebook. This creates a bridge t to drive very specific traffic from your Page on Facebook to your website.
- Increase local sales: Use Facebook to promote special and unique offers. Customize some of your offers for local buyers and drive traffic to your store. You can also boost your posts to reach more of the people who like your Page, along with new audiences in your local area. This option is not free, but is a great option as Facebook has stated that approximately 70 percent of active FB users in the United States are engaged and connected to a local business.
- Audience engagement: Having a Facebook page for your business gives you a way to talk to and get direct feedback from your target audience. Think of it like an ongoing focus group. Your fans are there because they are aware of your company and want to learn more. While they are certainly expecting to receive useful information from your Facebook page, you can also collect useful information from them through their participation.
How to get started
- Set up a Page for your business. Facebook calls it a Page. Its purpose is to give your business an additional online presence other than your website. You have to create a business page from your personal account. Yes, that means somebody needs to be on Facebook.
- Choose a classification for your page. There are six choices. Local Business is the first classification. Company/Organization/Institution is the second choice. These two are probably the best selections for an apparel decoration company. You can check the descriptions of each to see which fits best for you. If you select the Local Business category when you create your Page, customers can rate your business and write reviews. Enter your local business information and accept the Facebook Pages terms. Facebook will automatically walk you through the four basic sections to complete the fundamental aspects of your Page: About, Upload Profile Picture, Add to Favorites, Reach More People (which is where Facebook will try to sell you targeted advertising).
- Set Up Admins. Now that you’ve created a Page, you’re the administrator and can control the content and settings on your Page with your Page Admin Tools. You can always add someone else to help manage your Page in Settings. It’s important that you understand the Admin Panel. With the basics of your Page complete and now live, Facebook will ask if you'd like to "Like" your Page. Since there’s almost no content, photos, stories or information on your Page, I suggest waiting before you “Like” your Page. When you “Like” your page, this activity will appear in the News Feed of those you're personally connected to on Facebook. There are three settings to focus on in the Admin panel:
- Page Info: you can add additional details about your business depending on the classification you selected.
- Notifications: determine when and how you would like to receive Page alerts.
- Page Roles: if you need or want others to have access to your Page you can make those choices here.
- Start telling your story and connecting. Populate your Page with Content. There are six unique posting options: plain text, photos with captions, links with captions, videos with captions, event page and location check-in. Don’t forget to set up your Cover Photo. This is the large, horizontal image that spans the top of your Facebook Page. Make sure your Cover Photo is engaging, authentic and supports your overall brand. Use an image that makes it easy for visitors and fans to immediately understand what your business is about.
Once You’re Up and Running
Now that there's content on the Page, you can start strategically inviting users to “Like” it. Remember to include your Facebook Page URL on your website, email signature, blog, and even your business cards. The more ways people can find you the better. Helping people stay interested in your content is also an important factor to consider. Don’t get stuck in a rut. Vary your posts and content; the more engaging the better. According to Facebook, you should consider exclusive discounts or promotions. That is worth considering, however, these promotions mean you're giving away profit. Instead, look for ways to add value to your offer. Create end of the month or end of the year contests or giveaways. Try to create a sense of urgency to prompt action. For example, “free shipping this weekend only.”
It’s not just about sales and discounts either. Offer education and training, profile and post information that has high value. You can create a “Did You Know” series that explains color separations or talks about different kinds of screen-printing inks. Show your customers a part of the process and give them a perspective of what goes on “behind the scenes.”
Remember to connect with words and pictures. You can try conversation starters like fill in the blank: If there was one house chore I never had to do again, it would be_____." “My favorite Rock and Roll band of the '80s is _____," and then include an image on the topic. There is a proven higher engagement rate, share rate and conversion rate from Facebook posts that include photos. Share photos of you or employees in action. Show photos of your completed work. Share photos of your delighted customers who are now wearing the decorated apparel at the event for which they were designed. Consider a product of the week or style of the month spotlight. The right combination will keep your Page interesting. Your Facebook Page will allow you to Show and Tell.
Even with the power of Facebook, don’t just schedule posts and consider your job done. Smart businesses gather leads in the form of email addresses so that they can contact their community outside of Facebook. That is one of the main reasons to use Facebook. Build enough trust and offer enough value so that you can turn fans into customers. Gather leads from the Page through event sign ups, contests, promotions, or opt-in newsletters posted on your Page.
Facebook also does a great job of helping you get to know your visitors. You can see how people found your Page as well as some demographics for Page visitors like age and gender. These insights help you understand your audience better, so you can make your Page more engaging and keep connecting with customers.
Of course, one of Facebook's main motives for allowing businesses to set up Pages is to sell ads. Before you say, “no thanks, just shopping,” Facebook is really good at targeting ads to the right people based on age, gender, location, interests and more. I wouldn’t suggest this on day one, however, keep your eye on this topic.
I hope you can see that having a Facebook Page for your business is indispensable. I can't imagine running a business and NOT having a Facebook page. You should also know that many buyers are judging you now on your lack of visibility on Facebook and other social media channels.
- Guess what Facebook did to help show you how to set this up? They built a Page. Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/marketing this Page is run and monitored by Facebook employees and is intended to serve as a resource for businesses who use Facebook.
- Here’s another tool I really like. Check out HubSpots comprehensive Guide to Facebook Business Pages: http://offers.hubspot.com/guide-to-facebook-business-page-timelines?utm_campaign=blogseo-keyword-facebookpages&utm_source=blog
- For more help: https://www.facebook.com/business/products/pages/
Want some real life examples of companies using Facebook to their full potential? Check out these decorated apparel professionals' Pages: