Some 1.39 billion people use Facebook at least once a month and 890 million make it part of their daily routine. In Canada, about 19 million people use Facebook every month (14 million of whom log in every day – about 50% of all Internet users). Given the opportunities Facebook affords small businesses, it’s easy for entrepreneurs to waste time on the social network or to make mistakes that will harm their business. Here’s a seven-step plan to help you better profit using Facebook for your business.
1. Set your goals
Do you want to be seen as an expert in your field? Get your regular customers talking about you to their contacts? Hire better employees? Signing up on Facebook just because everyone says you should is not a business goal: it’s a recipe for wasting time.
2. Decide how much time you want to budget each week
Facebook is free (although you may have to pay to promote what you publish), but it’s costly in terms of time. Once you’ve determined how much time you’re going to spend, stick to it.
3. Understand how the medium works
This is crucial. If you don’t yet have one, create a personal account. Invite people you know to be your Facebook “friends.” Explore. Look for brands you like, then click Like. Find businesses similar to your own, either direct competitors or those serving different territories. Keep an eye on those that seem to have social media success, and take note of what they do and do not do. Resist publishing marketing messages for your business before you understand the rules of the game.
4. Create your Facebook business page
With a bit of research, you can find excellent articles online that explain how to do it. And then read about how to write good Facebook posts, grow your Facebook audience and bust through on Facebook news feeds.
5. Think commitment, not sales
Be useful and interesting to your customers. An outfitter could publish photos of the biggest fish caught, rather than cabin rental rates. A hotel could talk about the best activities in the vicinity, rather than extra services offered with the room.
Add a call to action (a brief message that encourages Internet users to do something, like post a photo or a comment), and answer messages left on your page.
Share something that excites you about your work: if you enjoy what you’re writing about, you’ll be more interesting to read. If you run a deep-sea diving school, for example, and what makes your eyes gleam are the most beautiful diving sites in your region, that’s what you should talk about! Investing in social media is time consuming – if you aren’t excited by what you’re talking about, your motivation will quickly drop off.
6. Let people know about your page
Add Facebook buttons to your website. Talk about your Facebook in your emails or e-newsletters to customers, and give people a reason to follow you. “Follow us on Facebook” isn’t good enough. “Follow us on Facebook to find out our favourites” would be much more effective.
7. Evaluate your work after a bit of time has passed
Facebook statistics (Facebook Page Insights), which show how often your page is visited, will be a big help. Use them to gauge the impact of your efforts as well as to find out what works best. Are you happy with the time invested? Do you feel like you’re on the right track to reach your goal? Has your goal changed? It’s normal to adjust your approach.
Once you’ve taken these seven steps, you won’t be a Facebook guru, but you’ll no longer be a beginner. Stay focused on the two essentials: your business goal and what you’re enthusiastic about.
Need advice on this topic to see how it can help your business thrive? Click here to talk to an expert.