Word on the street is that Facebook is dead. That it’s become too hard for small business now that Facebook has to make money and answer to its shareholders. That Facebook’s organic reach – how many of your fans actually get to see your posts in their newsfeed – has dropped so dramatically as to make it unviable to operate without paying.
I’m not buying into the doom and gloom.
I can see from my own experience as a Facebook user (ie. on my personal profile) that the businesses I like and interact with the most still show up regularly in my newsfeed. I may not see all their posts, but they sure haven’t disappeared right off the radar.
Facebook still attracts a huge audience and hence deserves to make up at least a part of your marketing. Here are some tips for getting started on Facebook for business.
1. Create a Page, not a Profile
A business should always use a Page on Facebook, not your own personal profile. Yes, it might seem tempting to launch your business on your profile which already has 500+ friends, but they don’t all want to follow your business. Likewise, your new clients don’t want to know about the drunken weekend you had with your friends. Keep your professional life, well… professional.
Using a Page provides access to additional features, such as scheduled posts, inline replies to comments, and access to advertising.
- You’ll manage your Page via your personal profile, so you need to have a Facebook signin.
- To create a Page visit https://www.facebook.com/pages/create/ (or from the main facebook.com homepage, under the signup button, click on “Create a Page for a celebrity, band or business”.)
- Choose whether you are a Local business, a Company or organisation, or Brand or product. You’ll be given different drop-down menus and fields to fill in depending on which you select.
- Only select Local business if you’ll only be servicing local customers (eg. if you run a bricks’n’mortar shopfront and no intention to add an online store or reach a wider market). There are some limitations on what can be done with this sort of Page, but automatically includes things like Places and Checkin ability.
- Select Company or organisation if you don’t expect people at your door, or you operate from multiple locations. This is the best category for a business operating their own online store.
- Choose Brand or product if you sell via multiple outlets, whether online retailers or via external distributors.
2. Get the details right
Once you’ve selected the Type, Facebook will lead you through the rest of the setup. Much of it can be edited later, but some details are important to get right at the outset.
- Make sure you include your website address in the About section so that people can find your business outside of Facebook. (Read this post about always driving traffic back to your website which is the main online face of your business.)
- Choose the name for your page, to get a unique Facebook web address, like my https://www.facebook.com/RightHandDesign. As it says, choose carefully because Facebook only allows you to change this once and then it’s set in stone.
- If you’ve already got a Page and want to add or change the Facebook Web Address, go to Edit Page then Update Page Info.
3. Get the look right
The cover image and profile picture create the first impression for new visitors to your Page, so don’t skimp on this area.
- Set a professional-looking profile picture. Use a clear headshot of yourself if you are the face of your business, or your business logo if you’re feeling shy.
- You’ll need a good quality image sized to 180×180 pixels.
- You can change the profile picture at any time.
- If you have a wide logo, you might need to resize its surrounds or modify it so it looks ok in a square box. There’s no point having the world see the centre of your brand name if it no longer makes sense.
- Create an attractive cover image (the large one that appears across the top of the page) that conveys something about your line of business.
- It might be a single image, or a collage. It can incorporate text such as your tagline, your company’s mission, or details of your upcoming event. Tip: Play with software such as PicMonkey to create your images with text.
- You can change the cover image whenever you like.
- Dimensions are 851×315, but larger images can be repositioned to show the part you like.
If you can’t upload a quality image yourself, you can hire someone to do it for you and it should cost no more than $100. Don’t spend much more than that as once people have Liked your Page (ie. become a fan) they will rarely visit the full page again. In fact, I’ve seen statistics that suggest 96% don’t return to your brand page – they just wait to see your posts appear in their newsfeed.
Having said that, what your Facebook page needs to do is to get people to Like it. Facebook pages are public, so people can visit and leave without clicking the all-important Like button, so your page needs to give them a reason to Like it.
3. Get Liked and stay Liked
If you look to the big brands, you’ll see that they run promotions and competitions. Last year’s Yellow Pages Social Media Report suggests that discounts and giveaways are the most commonly sought things on social media.
Fans are also interested in product information, tips and advice, event invitations and industry and company info.
So give them what they want. Give them something of interest or something they value.
But bear in mind that Facebook should be fun. The director of marketing at Coca Cola, Michael Donnelly summed it up:
“Being a fan, friend or follower does not mean that they have opted in to have advertising blasted at them.”
Your Facebook posts shouldn’t be all business-related. Inject some personality. If you’re a small business, it’s ok to add some more personal posts. Share some laugh-out-loud material, gorgeous pictures, or drop a quick line about how you goofed a sales call in the morning.
To build your Facebook fan base and gain an audience who are truly interested in what you offer, make it easy for existing clients to find and Like your Page.
- Link to it from your website.
- Put your Facebook Web Address in your email signature, on advertisements, etc.
- Send an email to your marketing list and specifically ask them to Like your Page.
Plus there’s always the option of Facebook marketing – paid ads, sponsored posts, and the like. To get started, visit: www.facebook.com/business and make sure you hone down the demographics to target those people more likely to want to hear from you.
How to Post:
Access your Page from your Facebook personal profile from your Favourites area (if you set it as a Favourite during the setup process), from the Pages area (on the left, on a desktop) or from the little tool icon at top right (“Use Facebook as…”).
If you have a smartphone, you can download the free Pages app.
There are 3 main types of Facebook posts (aka status updates):
- Text – plain text posts can be short or lengthy (up to 63,000 characters). Facebook stats suggest short is best (under 250 characters) but experiment to see what your own audience likes. You can include blank lines to separate paragraphs to make long posts more readable.
- Images – you can post a single image, or multiple ones in a single post. Up to 6 will show as a nice collage. You can also add text to an image post. The best size for images is 600×600, although the display in the feed may appear smaller.
- Links – If you copy a URL into your text Facebook will automatically create a Link post for you, with an image extracted from the webpage and a short description with the title. You can add extra text about it and can even remove the URL from your text and the Link box will remain (which looks neater).
It’s a good idea to post a mix of these 3 types, but check your Facebook Page Insights to gauge which ones get the most reach and interaction as this can be governed somewhat by Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm.
When to Post:
There are two big questions that everyone asks, and several ‘experts’ have tried to answer:
1. When is the best time to post on Facebook?
There is no right answer. It can be a case of trial and error to find what works for you and for your audience. Are your audience all in the same timezone as you, or are some in other parts of the world? Do they mostly use Facebook while commuting, on their lunch break, or at night after the kids have gone to bed?
You can easily schedule posts in advance on Pages so they can be sent while you’re away from your desk, or sleeping. Just click on the little clock icon below your status box and set the date and time. To reschedule, use the Activity Log (under Edit Page).
Study your Facebook Insights to understand which times of day seem to get the most reach and engagement.
2. How often should I post?
Again, there is no rule. Some people swear by 3 times a day, but others find once a day still works for them. Start slowly and post a few times a week, until your audience builds and then you might find momentum to post more often.
It takes time to build your Facebook following and for your Likers to really begin to interact with you. You need to consistently be posting/ engaging/ adding value to build a relationship where, really, you don’t know each other.
A Facebook page is not “set and forget”. When someone makes the effort to comment, make sure you respond. Creating conversations prevents your business seeming ‘faceless’ and encourages more people to engage.
Bonus tip: Don’t rely on Facebook
A final word of caution: don’t put all your eggs in the Facebook basket. Yes, you can build business on Facebook, but it’s important to not rely on it as your only place of business.
As has already been proven, Facebook can make changes at any time, and not all those changes will work to your benefit.
Or they may lose popularity with their users.
Or they may start charging for business pages.
Or they may go under when the next generation of social media comes along.
Having your whole business and client database tied up in something that has never promised to do right by you is like building your house on sand… and without insurance.
I’ll look at other social media channels in coming posts so you can choose where to spread your eggs. You might also check my previous post on which social media to choose for your business…