By Patti Rowlson
Courtesy to The Bellingham Business Journal
Let’s face it, Facebook marketing is not going to work for every small business. But there are some industries for which it is a natural fit.
Local restaurants, garden centers, entertainment venues, clothing stores and pet-care service providers come to mind as ones that typically benefit. These industries often come in contact with a number of consumers every day, so there are many opportunities to meet new people and then build a community using social-media marketing.
Sometimes, however, a company that should be a great match for Facebook struggles to build its community online. They just can’t seem to generate enough “likes” to make the page a solid marketing tool.
In many cases this is because the company is not actively advertising its Facebook page or leveraging systems and tools already in place to promote the page.
Facebook communities do not magically pop up overnight. They are cultivated over time.
If your small business has struggled to build a Facebook community, there are some things you can do to maximize efforts and improve results.
Here are eight tips to try today:
1. Share valuable information that is related to your industry. Content is king. Share relevant content on a consistent basis. Did you know that page followers are more likely to like, tag or share images of people, cute kids and even pets? Try posting photos of your employees.
2. Interact with followers. Facebook is not just about pushing out marketing messages. Efforts are maximized when companies interact with people who ask questions and leave comments on the page. Put a plan in place to respond to all interactions within 24 hours.
3. Promote, promote, promote. Help people find your business page by adding a Facebook widget to your website, or at least an image of Facebook’s logo hyperlinked to the page. Include a Facebook logo on business cards, brochures, flyers, etc., and remember to invite people to connect with your company’s page whenever possible. Facebook makes things easy for users by providing free downloadable graphic files.
4. Invite personal friends and family to connect with the company page. Friends and family can help get the ball rolling. Their likes and positive comments on the page can really help generate a buzz.
5. Ask employees to “like” the page. Explain that social media is part of marketing and growing the business and that they can easily help by following the page and sharing information from time to time with their friends and family.
6. Pay to boost status updates. Did you know you can pay Facebook to put select status updates in front of a larger audience? Fees start at $5 and go up based on the number of people you want to reach. Boosting posts can lead to increased follower engagement and additional likes. But be selective. Boosting posts too frequently will quickly become annoying to Facebook users. It may even have a negative effect.
7. Promote Facebook at events. Post a QR code that event attendees can snap with a smartphone, or hand out affordable social media promotional cards at trade shows.
8. Engage with other business pages. When logged into Facebook on your business page, “like” other pages and comment on their status updates from time to time (friendly, relevant, encouraging comments only—no sales pitches). Doing so will put your business name in front of that user and their page followers.
Sometimes local businesses understand the value of Facebook marketing but they just don’t have the time or desire to try the tips above or consistently work the site. That’s when it’s time to consider partnering with a local copywriter or social media manager who can help generate meaningful status updates, engage with followers on behalf of the business and work to grow the online community.
There are affordable options out there, so don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
Do you manage a successful Facebook page? What are some tried-and-true tips you’ve used to build a community? Comment below to share them here—together we can help local small businesses succeed.
Patti Rowlson of PR Consulting Services is a publicist and marketing consultant based in Whatcom County. Visit her website at www.pattirowlson.com, or connect with her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.