Why your business should be on social media
Social media has become a phenomenon that connects the vast majority of us via different platforms. Social media platforms also allow businesses, large and small, to get their brand out before an extremely wide audience.
While the days of easy organic reach (those that see your content without you having to resort to paid ads) are vanishing, there is still an expectation that if you are in business, you will have some form of social media.
Consumers want and expect to be able to contact, connect and interact with your business.
Know your customer base, and be social where they are social
Knowing your customers and what social media platforms they are using is the key to your social media plan of attack. Different platforms appeal to different demographics and it is no good being on LinkedIn if all your customers are on Facebook or vice versa.
While it may be tempting to post to as many social media platforms as possible, and thus extend your reach, you need to consider just how much time and effort you will have to maintain and monitor these platforms.
Businesses are often better off focusing on one or two social media platforms that their customers are using, and posting to those platforms regularly. It is no good being on Facebook or other social media platforms if, when someone visits your profile/page, there is no activity and hasn’t been for months, or even years.
Just as disheartening is when a social media account is receiving engagement (comments, likes, shares, messages) but nobody is checking the social media account and potential avenues for building client relationships are lost.
Why Facebook is the optimal social network for many small businesses
Facebook Pages and Groups work well for many small businesses, simply because Facebook is one of the most popular social media platforms around. Facebook is said to have 69% of adults in the US using their platform. Additionally, of that 69% of US adults, just over 50% are said to check into Facebook at least once a day.
A Facebook Page has many benefits for your business
Facebook gives business owners the ability to create Facebook Pages. While gaining organic (naturally occurring, not paid for) traffic to your Facebook Page is not as easy as it once was, a Facebook Page can still be extremely useful for small businesses, along with Facebook Groups.
Having a Facebook Page comes with many options, including the ability to list services, have people book appointments, promote offers or events, and buy from your Facebook shop (automatically imported from your website shop). If you have an Instagram account and want to use the shoppable posts option, you will need a Facebook shop to do so.
Facebook Live, Premiere and Watch Parties
Unfortunately, not everybody that follows or likes your Facebook Page will see all of your posts. Statistics from 2019 indicate that as little as only 6.4% of your total Facebook Page followers may see your posts in their Facebook newsfeed.
Facebook tends to reward those that use Facebook Live to broadcast live video streams though and it is thought to be the most effective way of generating organic Facebook traffic. While going live can be rather nerve-wracking, many articles have tips and suggestions on how to use Facebook Live.
For those that find the idea of going live a bit overwhelming, Facebook has other options for videos uploaded to Facebook Page accounts. You can opt to debut your video as a premiere, or a special watch party.
A Facebook premiere video is said to get almost the same organic traffic as a Facebook Live video, but without the stress and anxiety of doing a live broadcast. It can also allow you to interact with the viewers during the premiere, something which may be more difficult to do while broadcasting live.
When you schedule a video you have uploaded as a premiere, a post informing followers of the upcoming premiere is posted to your page, along with a “get notified” button. People that chose to be notified receive a reminder about 20 minutes before the premiere begins and a second notification 3 minutes before the video premieres. This can help boost your video views as opposed to the numbers that might see it if you just upload the video as a post.
There is also the option to have a Facebook Watch Party. In this instance, you invite the people you want to watch a video (this may be a prior live, saved or suggested video) and you and they can comment on the video as it is playing.
Facebook also has its own version of stories, and you can upload short videos or images that will show up in the stories section for 24 hours. These stories often feature at the very top of the Facebook feed.
Content might be king but Facebook wants to control the kingdom
Facebook might be one of the biggest and most popular social media platforms but it’s also the most jealous of the platforms. Facebook doesn’t want its users leaving Facebook if at all possible, and so when posting videos or links from other sites, it can help to have some strategies in place.
If you have recorded a video, you could upload this to your YouTube account and then share the link in a Facebook Page post. However, your video is more likely to show up in the newsfeed of your followers if you take the time to upload the video to your Facebook Page and share that version with your followers rather than the YouTube version. Uploading videos to Facebook will also allow you to put your videos into playlists, just as you can on YouTube (separate videos by category etc).
If you want to share a link to an article on your website, many people recommend uploading a photo and typing in a description of the article in the post and noting that the link to the article will be in the first comment. One advantage of this over posting a direct link is that you can tag products from your Facebook Shop in posts with pictures/videos uploaded via Facebook but you can’t in posts that are links from external websites.
If you want to schedule posts to Facebook, it is recommended that you use the Facebook Page scheduler to do so. Other schedulers such as Buffer can do this, but it is only on the Facebook Scheduler that you can tag your shop products (as long as the scheduled post is not a link to another website).
Your Facebook Insights, and spying on the competition
The Facebook Page insights will allow you to see when people are viewing your content as well as a breakdown of their demographics. This should help you determine when to schedule content (even if you are using an outside scheduler).
The Facebook Page also allows you to add “Pages to Watch”. This feature allows you to add a competitor’s Facebook Page and will give you a weekly overview of their statistics compared to your own. The statistics include their total number of page likes, what percentage of those likes have been acquired in the past week, how many posts they had that week and the amount of engagement that week. It also has your statistics listed so you can compare yourself to them.
Followers opt to follow you, don't make them regret it
There are many people on Facebook, and generally speaking, they are there to connect with friends and family. Some people recommend posting on Facebook several times a day, but I imagine there are very few accounts that most people would welcome seeing multiple posts from one account every day.
In a similar vein, most people don’t want to be sold to all the time. A ratio of 80% content that is of interest to your followers and 20% selling or promoting your content is thought to be the sweet spot for many businesses.
Building a community
If you want to engender a close community, you can start a Facebook Group connected to your Facebook Page. This can be where you give more one on one focus to followers, or you may choose to offer this as a special bonus only available to buyers/subscribers to your services.
You can opt to have units of information in Facebook Groups for members to learn at their own pace. Discussions (posts) in groups are searchable and you can recognize members that are particularly responsive with various badges.
As groups grow, it is often a good idea to have admins available to make sure that people are not spamming the group and that members remain civil toward one another.
Facebook Pages also have their own Facebook Messenger. You can elect to have automated responses and have your messenger answer frequently asked questions, as well as message you directly. Your Facebook Page messenger can be added to your website as well.
You can also connect Facebook Messenger to a chatbot that can take on some automated processes for your business. You can set the chatbot up to anticipate what people might be interested in learning about your business or be notified of updates. People can subscribe to your bot, although there are strict rules about who you can message, how often and about what type of content the bot can send.
Recommended Actions for Small Business Facebook Pages
- Make some type of post at least once a day, and at a bare minimum at least once a week.
- While many may suggest posting multiple times per day, know your audience. Some audiences will be delighted with this, others may feel the need to hide your content, unfollow or unlike your page if you are not careful.
- Having a theme for your posts can work. You may post a quote on Mondays for example, ask followers a question on another day and perhaps post a handy tip on another day. You can show behind the scenes of your business, have a day for live streams, a quiz or AMA (ask me anything).
- Plan ahead for the holidays, seasonal events and even silly nominal days (happy donut day, etc).
- When posting content, be sure to encourage engagement. Pose a question, ask for their thoughts, or even select a poll to post with your question.
- If someone has commented on one of your posts, respond to them. Either thank them, respond to their question or even better, ask a follow-up question where applicable.
- Items for sale in your Facebook shop are shareable to your page – and you can tag products from your Facebook shop to posts that have photos or videos that you have uploaded to post.
- You can also post events, offers, and stories. If you have an offer available, or an event to promote make sure to take advantage of Facebook’s tools to do so.
- It doesn’t have to be your content at all times. In fact, followers often like a silly meme or you sharing other content that may be relevant to them. Followers want to be engaged but they don’t want to feel that they are being sold to all the time.
- Most social media platforms that encourage sharing of content, recommend a ratio of 80% other content/non-selling to 20% your own content/selling.
- Many scheduling apps can provide content ideas for search terms you enter. That way you can schedule other people’s content as well as your own.
- If you are stuck for more content ideas, creating Google alerts for certain topics or looking at Google trends might be helpful.
- You need to at minimum check into Facebook once a day and check for Facebook Messenger messages, and comments on your posts.
- Facebook notes how quickly you respond to messages and will often note this on your page. While different time-zones can present challenges, and life can get busy, going days without responding to messages is not good.
- Your page will also notify you when someone has shared your content. When this happens, it is nice to visit their page/profile and thank them. This is not only polite, but it counts as engagement. Facebook lists engagement on posts including shares.
- If you are a member of groups related to your industry, you can sometimes choose to join under your private profile or as your Page. Offering advice to others in groups is good public relations. Many groups will have rules about promoting yourself though or asking people to pm or message you privately. If you are using your personal profile in a group, make sure that your page is listed on your profile so that those that are interested can find your page.
- If you have your own group, make sure to check in to see if there are any requests to join, and what is being posted.
- Especially when groups are small, it is good to encourage interaction by asking questions or suggesting topics for discussion. Be sure to look over what has been posted to make sure that there is no spam or obnoxious behavior.
- Finally, make sure to check out your insights at least once a week. Note what types of posts do well, what times your followers are online etc. If you have other pages that you are watching maybe visit their page and see what is working for them.