Facebook has certainly had its public relations challenges over the past couple of years, yet there’s no question that the social media giant is still the place to be if you’re a small business owner.
With more than a billion active users on the site each day, it’s no surprise that more than 70 million small businesses have Facebook pages—which led the company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, to announce, in November 2017, a “significant investment” in helping small businesses use the platform, according to this report from USA Today.
So what does this mean for you and your small business? Depending on who your audience is, Facebook may or may not be the best place for you to invest your resources. If you believe that there is a potential to sell and engage existing and new customers there, then here are five things you need to do this year to succeed.
1. Invest in a Human
Facebook is free, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a cost. The companies I know that succeed the most with the platform invest in a human being—a marketing expert—to manage their Facebook page. This is not as easy as you might think.
According to research, more than a third of Facebook users engage with corporate brands on a regular basis, and smart companies know they have to respond quickly to users’ requests and comments. Opinions vary, but, typically, companies post about eight times a day to their Facebook pages at different times of day.
Not only that, but if you want to run an effective advertising campaign (see below), you’ll need someone to create, manage, and evaluate what’s working and what’s not. You need a human to do all this! Go to Upwork, Guru, craigslist, or Fiverr and get yourself a social media-savvy human being to take ownership of your Facebook page.
2. Look Beyond the U.S.
Facebook is a worldwide phenomenon: More than 85 percent of the social media giant’s daily active users come from outside the U.S. In July 2018, India surpassed the U.S. for the largest number of Facebook users, at 270 million (compared to 210 million in the U.S.). Brazil and Indonesia reported 130 million users each.
Nervous about non-English speakers? The company gives you tools to translate your page into more than 70 languages, too. If your products or services can be targeted at non-U.S. customers, then there could be an enormous opportunity for you to direct your posts and ads to an international audience.
3. Leverage Messenger
Facebook’s Messenger for Business is a powerful way for you to communicate with your audience. You can think of it as a mass communications tool that can be used to disseminate information to your followers and fans. More importantly, it’s a tool that your Facebook administrator, customer service, and sales teams should be using to actively communicate with people who have questions.
Messenger also features bots, which are workflow applications that you can easily program to automatically respond to certain questions or requests based on keywords identified in the message. Bots can save time, provide a quicker response to your visitors, be available around the clock, and alert you to any issues or important questions. You can even include “buy” buttons in your messages to facilitate online purchases.
4. Use Video
People like to watch videos. And they really like to watch videos on Facebook. Videos there are streamed for more than 100 million hours a day and get more than eight billion average daily views. Video has become a preferred method of receiving information, particularly among younger generations. Effective Facebook strategies today cannot ignore videos.
Your goal should be to stream or publish at least two videos a month. They can be short—in fact they should be short. Use a good camera or even a smartphone. Consider video products like Mevo for higher quality productions. Interview a customer. Share your thought leadership on the industry. Demonstrate a new product. Provide a little training. When you start consistently publishing interesting videos, you’ll not only find more prospective customers engaging with your page…but prospective employees, too!
5. Have an Ample Ad Budget
If you think that you’re going to write a brilliant Facebook post and it’s going to go viral, it just isn’t going to happen. Sorry. The reality is that Facebook is a publicly held company with shareholders who want profits—and those profits are coming from ads.
To get your posts, videos, and products noticed on Facebook, you’re going to have to advertise. Create a monthly budget for advertising and give your administrator (see above) the leeway to run campaigns targeting your followers and custom audiences, chosen through demographics and other factors. You don’t want to spend any less than $50 a week to get some attention and, depending on your ads’ responses, you may want to spend even more. Advertising is an essential way to get noticed on Facebook and, considering the potential size of your audience, it could be a very profitable exercise, too.
Again, Facebook may not be for you. Your audience may not be there. Or you may not have the resources to use the platform effectively. You may decide to devote your marketing dollars elsewhere, like to advertising or another social media channel. But if you decide to focus on Facebook this year—and here are a bunch of great statistics from online marketing site SproutSocial that could help convince you (I pulled data from there for this piece)—then my advice is to go all in. You will get out of your Facebook investment what you put into it.
What social media strategies have you implemented? Let us know in the comments.
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