Why a Facebook presence is worth the effort

January 24, 2013 | By

It’s true that marketing has changed drastically over the last few years, especially for small businesses. Nowhere is this more true than with social media. Originally just a way to communicate with friends, social media has taken its place in the small business owner’s marketing toolbox. Used well, Facebook marketing is a powerful tool, and best of all, it’s free.

But some small small business owners think that all you have to do is create a business Facebook profile. They think that their mere presence on Facebook will be enough to entice new customers to their businesses. Unfortunately, this laissez faire approach to Facebook marketing is not only ineffective but it may hurt your marketing efforts. A neglected or abandoned profile gives people the impression that you don’t care much about your “appearance,” and they don’t want that slovenliness to rub off.

It doesn’t take much effort, though, to get great results from your Facebook endeavors. If you consistently put just 20 minutes per day into your business Facebook account, you can reach out to new potential customers, build relationships, and garner some serious attention. Here’s how.

1. Work on your profile. Your profile establishes your Facebook identity, so pay attention to how it looks. Choose a profile picture that represents your business well. If you own a pet store, it would be confusing to use a picture of a cupcake. You don’t have to use a photo of yourself for your business profile, but you should use something that will be recognizable when you post and when people look at your page.

2. Add friends regularly. If you’re shy, it can be intimidating to send friend requests on a regular basis, but put yourself out there and send a few requests every day. Soon you’ll be getting friend requests yourself, and the power of social media will be in your favor. Each friend has a network of friends, so your influence can grow exponentially.

3. Post events. Facebook has an option to post events, and this is a great strategy for small businesses. Post sales, special offers, classes, and anything else that has a specific date and time associated with it. Encourage your friends to “Like” your events, and use the RSVP function to find out who’s coming to your events.

4. Update regularly. The “regularly” part is the hard part. Set a time every day that you will post something about your small business. Need ideas? Write about your new employee, your upcoming events, your favorite products. Tell how busy you are and how much you enjoy your customers. Keep your updates positive, unique, and professional. Skip graphic descriptions of your head cold and complaints about your employee who’s always late. Remember that this is marketing, and image is important.

5. Upload photos. Let’s say that you have a dance studio and your students perform at a local festival. Upload your photos and ask the students to tag themselves in all of your photos. This is a strategy that Lenny Kravitz has used to bolster his Facebook popularity. He has a photographer take pictures of his fans at his concerts, and then he invites the fans to tag themselves in the photos. How does this help? It helps because his concert pictures show up on all of his fans’ individual Facebook pages. It’s genius, really.

6. Use your Facebook page for polls. People like to express their opinions, so give them a chance to do it on your Facebook page. This is actually a smart marketing strategy because you can treat polls as free focus groups. If you run a pizza place, ask your Facebook friends and fans which new pizza topping sounds best to them. They’ll enjoy being asked, and you’ll be more confident with your upcoming menu selections.

7. Hold Facebook contests. Create a contest based on your product. This kind of Facebook marketing really gets people involved, especially if you offer a great prize. For example, if you own a landscaping business, hold a flower garden contest. People send in pictures of their flower gardens, and you award a free service to the winner.

8. Create a community. One of the greatest benefits of Facebook marketing is that you’re not just spreading word about your brand; you’re creating a community. Friends who return to your business page again and again will begin to recognize each other and feel comfortable. Your page can become a landing spot for people with similar interests. Just as a coffee shop can become a comfortable hangout, so can your Facebook page for people who want to know more about what you do.

Once your Facebook page is really rolling along, participate on others’ pages. Comment on posts, and become part of the larger community. Facebook marketing is worth the effort.

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Tony is working on new client relationships and the expansion of present accounts.

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