By Ivy Lamb, Manta Content Editor
Tried and true marketing strategies for small business owners who want to build a Facebook following, generate new leads, and turn social followers into paying customers.
If there’s one social media platform that all small business owners should be on, it’s Facebook. The social network has come to dominate the online space with more than a billion users worldwide.
Finding success with Facebook marketing isn’t hard, but it does take a little time and know-how to truly engage your customers and drive more leads and sales. We asked social media experts and business owners to share their insight in this comprehensive guide to Facebook marketing for small business.
1. Why is Facebook important for small business?
The statistics speak for themselves: Facebook has an estimated 1.8 billion monthly users worldwide, and according to the Pew Research Center, 68% of all U.S. adults use Facebook. For many, logging onto the social media platform is a daily habit—used for entertainment, news and connecting with friends and family.
Simply put, small businesses can’t afford not to be on Facebook. It’s an ideal platform for engaging with customers where they already spend time online.
2. How do I use Facebook for small business marketing?
On the surface, Facebook marketing is relatively simple: Start a business page and start posting updates and photos about your company. However, your social media marketing strategy matters, since your business has to compete with lots of other friends and businesses for your customers’ attention. The goal is to post valuable information and built relationships with your followers.
“Generally, users on Facebook want to see content they care about from sources they care about,” said Simon A. Thalmann, digital marketer and writer for Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, Michigan. “Usually this centers on friends and family, but many people are also passionate about brands that offer goods and services they like or identify with, or that they in some way find value from following or seeing content from.”
Your goal as a small business owner is to figure out what your customers respond to, and deliver that value through your Facebook posts.
3. What’s the difference between my Facebook Business page vs. my personal Page?
The profile you create to represent your business on Facebook is different from your own personal profile. Business profiles are called “pages.” How can you tell the difference?
“If you can click ‘like’ on it, then it’s a page,” said Dennis Yu, chief technology officer for BlitzMetrics. “If you can log in and be friends, then it’s a user profile. A lot of people talk about their pages, when they are talking about their user profiles. If you want to grow your business, then you need a Facebook page for it. Only with a Facebook page can you boost content, get analytics to see how it’s working, collect email addresses, drive people into a call, and so forth.”
4. How to create a Facebook account for small business
It’s free to create a Facebook page for your business. Start by selecting the type of business you own. You’ll then be prompted to fill out your business name, a business description, a cover and profile photo, and a call to action. Once you’re happy with everything, be sure to hit “publish” to make it public. After you publish your page, you’ll have access to Facebook’s business features, including messaging and analytics.
5. How can I see my followers on Facebook?
To see how many followers your business page has, simply click “Settings” at the top of your page, and then click “People and Other Pages” in the left column. You should be able to see a list of everyone who has liked your page. (Some may not show up, however, depending on the individual user’s privacy settings.)
6. What should I post on my small business Facebook page?
What you post depends on your business and your customers. Before you start posting, it’s worth thinking about the most common questions and issue you hear about from customers, and use that as a guide for posting content that’s relevant to them.
But no matter what, try to keep things fresh. “Regardless of the industry you are in, or the audience you are trying to reach, nothing bores people more than the same old content shared time and time again,” said Gerald Vinci, owner of Vinci Digital Marketing.
Vinci recommends diversifying your strategy by sharing both written and visual content, including:
- Tips and advice
- Your own blog posts
- Blog posts from other relevant websites
- Posts from other Facebook pages
- Create a survey or ask a question to get a conversation going
- Share interesting photos or videos that your audience would benefit from
- Show people more about your personality by sharing things you and your team get involved with like community events, office parties or celebrations
7. When should I post on my small business Facebook page?
Like the content you choose, timing also depends on your audience. However, a good rule of thumb is to space out your posts, rather than put them up all at once.
“The default approach that seems to work best for our particular audiences is a schedule focused around the average workday. Students and staff often seem to check their pages first thing in the morning at work or school, just before or after lunch, and just before leaving work or just after arriving home after work,” Thalmann said.
He added that a three-post schedule during the workday typically includes a post around 7:45 a.m., another around 11:45 a.m. and another around 4:45 p.m. Posts later in the evening, around 7 p.m. or so, often do well also.
8. How often should I post on my small business Facebook page?
The goal here is to get your posts in front of customers, without going overboard.
“I’d recommend posting between one to three times daily,” said Allison Baker, social media and marketing coordinator for H2O Media Inc. “You don’t want to bombard your followers, but you don’t want them to forget about you either. Having a consistent, daily presence is extremely important on social media. Even if you’re only posting something like an inspirational quote, your followers will still see your business name and logo, and this will keep you top of mind.”
9. What if I don’t have much time to post on Facebook?
Does posting on Facebook one to three times a day sound overwhelming? If you don’t have much time throughout the day, you can streamline your process by setting aside time to create content in batches, said Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith.
“For example, write out the top 10 frequently asked questions from your customers. Make that into a blog post. Then, create ten short videos with each point or tip, as well as 10 image quotes,” she said.
If you can afford part-time help, it might be worth it. “Hiring a good social media assistant for even a few hours a week can make all the difference,” Smith said. “For example, you can provide your assistant with photos and video clips that you have on your phone anyway and they could use them to create many wonderful videos using a tool such as Animoto.”
Smith added that small business owners should take advantage of a social media scheduling tool such as Hootsuite, Buffer, PostPlanner or Edgar. That way, you can schedule your posts in advance, instead of stopping in the middle of the day to update Facebook.
10. How do I get Facebook likes for my small business page?
When people “like” your business page, they’re also automatically opted-in to follow your posts. That means your content will show up their newsfeed, so it’s important to build the number of page likes your business has on Facebook.
“We’ve been working incredibly hard to get our Facebook followers up, as a majority of our referrals and sales come from social media,” said Amandine Liepmann, cofounder of Mitz Accessories.
Liepmann said building followers starts with good content. “Before posting anything I always ask myself, ‘Would I want to read this? Is this content engaging our followers in active discussions?’ The more activity you can show on your page, the better.”
Coverage of your business on other sites can help increase your Facebook following as well. “We were recently featured by UpWorthy and found that we had a lot of new fans on Facebook after the story was posted,” Liepmann added.
Looking for even more strategies to grow your Facebook following? Jennifer Cherry Foster,
president of Catalyst Media Factory, shared these tips:
- Make sure to tag customers (with their permission), other businesses and vendors to get in front of new audiences
- Engage with other businesses that offer complementary services
- Create graphics that carry your logo when shared
11. How do I find good photos for Facebook?
Images are arguably more important than anything you write on Facebook. Good images can mean the difference between a customer clicking your post or just scrolling by.
“Anytime I post anything on my Facebook business page, I make sure to include an eye-catching image. By having a bright, relative image to the topic of a blog post, announcement, or news article, a potential client is more likely to engage with my page,” psychotherapist Liz Morrison in New York City.
You can take high-quality photos with your smartphone, but make sure your subject is well lit and in the frame. You can also experiment with free stock photos from sites like New Old Stock, SplitShire, 1 Million Free Pictures and the Creative Commons. Take your photos to the next level with free design tools like Canva, which allow you to play with text and other graphics to create flyers, announcements and more.
12. How do I design my small business Facebook page?
In addition to choosing photos to accompany your posts, you’ll also need to consider the profile and cover photo of your Facebook page. “Vibrant visuals will always win the day,” Smith said. “Work with a professional graphic designer to create your images. Or, use a tool such as Adobe Spark to create a compelling cover image.”
Your profile and cover photos should be related to your business, and represent your brand. For example, if you own a children’s clothing boutique, a playful, colorful cover photo would be appropriate. If you’re a legal firm, something muted and traditional might be better. Find inspiration by looking at other business’ Facebook pages.
13. How Do I Use Facebook for Small Business Promotions?
Some businesses run contests and other promotions to drive engagement of Facebook. (Be sure to check out Facebook’s terms before you run your first promotion.) The best promotions combine great content with an offer that’s relevant to your customers, said digital strategist Jason Falls.
“For example, instead of just giving away a spa treatment, do a video interview with someone who has had the spa treatment about how it made her feel reborn, refreshed, important again … connect those emotions,” he said. “Then target that post to women within the demographic you’re trying to reach. The content should grab them, then conveniently introduce them to the promotion.”
However, you should be careful with promotions—they can be useful, but they can also backfire. “While they can certainly drive activity, if it’s for a giveaway or prize, you end up driving a bunch of people to your page who don’t really want to buy from you, they just want the free thing,” Falls said. “Still, if you can create a contest but explain it using compelling content that grabs people’s emotions, you’ll likely find it to be far more successful than just saying, ‘Click here to win!’”
14. Ideas for Facebook contests
Facebook contests may not be the best tool to reach new customers, but they can make your current social media followers feel special and help you reach other goals.
“We connect with our current customer base by offering our social media fans and email newsletter subscribers exclusive JUST4ME discounts,” said Claudia Montez, founder of Isabelle Grace Jewelry. “Every week, we put one of our pieces on a special JUST4ME discount and advertise it in our newsletter and to our social media followers. Not only has this resulted in new purchases from existing customers, but it has also helped us really grow our email list!”
You can also offer customers a chance to win free or discounted product if they:
- Like your post
- Comment on your post
- Share a photo
- Guess the answer to a trivia question
- Caption a photo
15. What does Facebook for small business cost?
Theoretically, nothing. You can start your Facebook business page and post for free, and if you focus on organic efforts, you’ll never spend a dime. However, experts and small business owners all agree that, thanks to Facebook’s algorithm, it’s tough to build your audience without paying to boost your posts.
“The mistake most small businesses make on Facebook is that they think it’s purely an organic play,” said Jamie Turner, author, CNN contributor and CEO of 60SecondMarketer.com. “The truth is that if you use the paid advertising feature on Facebook, you’ll get better results. Best of all, Facebook is inexpensive and easy to use, so don’t miss out on using it for as little as $5 per day.”
16. What are Facebook ads?
“Facebook offers paid placement on their website and mobile apps,” said John Surdakowski, founder of Avex Designs. “Your content, special offers, website or posts can get in front of customers with a few simple clicks. What’s more, your ads will be targeted to a very specific demographic. Facebooks ads are very popular, since they can be quickly deployed.”
This video explains more about Facebook’s targeting capabilities:
To learn more about advertising options, read Manta’s complete guide, “Facebook Ads: 19 Ways to Get More Sales with Social Media Marketing.”
17. How much do Facebook ads cost?
The answer to that question depends on your budget and your goals. Cost of entry is low. According to Surdakowski, you can allocate as little as $5 per day or as much as $500 (or more) per day.
“Before putting your entire marketing budget behind Facebook ads, it would be best to test with a small budget and scale up from there,” he warned.
This video explains how Facebook Ads costs are determined:
18. What is the Facebook Insights feature?
Facebook Insights shows you all kinds of statistics about your business page. It’s only visible to you, the page administrator, and it can help you judge how well your page is performing.
The amount of info can be overwhelming. Here are the metrics business owners should pay the closest attention to, according to Dennis Yu of BlitzMetrics:
- Your top posts (i.e. posts with the most impressions and engagement)
- Who your best fans are (where they live, what they like, how old they are, what they engage with, etc.)
- How you fare against your competitors
In order to get insight on your competitors’ performance, you should find five other pages to benchmark against in “Pages to Watch.” Then you can look at how fast they’re growing in fans and engagement.
19. What are Facebook tracking URLs?
It may sound technical, but tracking URLs aren’t that hard to use or understand. Basically, tracking URLs have a special combo of letters and numbers to identify the source of each click. They help you determine how many people actually visit your website because they clicked on the ad.
“Tracking URLs are used by Google Analytics to determine the correct referring source of a website visitor,” said Eve Mayer, CEO and owner of Social Media Delivered. “Facebook provides an easy-to-use tool, which allows creators of Facebook ads to create a URL that will provide Google Analytics with even more detail about how a visitor ended up at the website.”
20. How do I use Facebook Live?
Facebook Live is the social media platform’s live video streaming feature, and it can give your followers a more personal view of your business.
“Live video is perfect for really showcasing the human side of your business through storytelling,” Smith said. “With live video streaming, small businesses can take their audience behind the scenes, conduct product demos, introduce staff members, spotlight customer success stories, host Q&A sessions, invite feedback, do interviews and so much more.”
Smith recommends experimenting with your style at first—your videos can be rehearsed or impromptu. But she also stressed the importance of using a tripod and microphone so that your videos aren’t too sloppy.
Lisa Spector owns Through A Dog’s Ear, a company that produces music to calm the canine nervous system. “I recently did a live Canine Classical Concert and broadcast on Facebook Live so that people were invited into my living room,” Spector said. “While there were some tech problems, people still loved it and enjoyed sharing the calming time with their pups at home.”
21. What is Facebook Stories?
Facebook Stories is a new feature that allows users to share photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. If that sounds just like Snapchat and Instagram Stories, it is. Facebook is trying to capitalize on the growing trend of using images and videos (rather than text) to communicate.
Right now, the feature is available only to personal users and can’t be used on business pages. However, it seems likely that if Facebook Stories becomes popular, it will be extended to businesses as well. Small business owners should keep an eye on this trend.
22. Can Facebook generate more leads and traffic to my business?
The short answer is yes. But your success with Facebook depends on your audience and how well you’re able to reach them. If you follow some of the best practices in this guide, you should be able to boost leads and traffic to your business.
“Children, teenagers and young adults will often be easier to reach on other social media platforms,” Mayer observed. (Snapchat, for example, caters to a much younger audience than Facebook.) “You will have to spend some money on Facebook ads and boosted posts to reach new people,” she added.
23. What should I never say on Facebook?
“As tempting as it is to talk politics on Facebook, it’s best to avoid that subject altogether,” Turner said. “Also, if you ever get negative comments on Facebook, be sure to take the high road.”
Getting into arguments with customers on your Facebook page—whether about your business or something unrelated—is a bad idea because it’s a public forum. You could wind up alienating many more people than just that one customer. Instead, keep things professional and upbeat at all times.
A version of this post originally appeared on the Manta blog; reprinted with permission.