Facebook is an essential part of any company’s social media strategy– it’s the world’s largest social network. According to the company’s statistics, over 759 million people use ‘FB’ every day.
Users post updates about themselves, and read and comment upon their friends’ activity. Increasingly, as users, we’re also using Facebook to find information about anything that interests us – and that’s where your business comes in.
Facebook and Business
Chances are your business already has a Facebook page. According to Facebook’s own statistics, more than 25 million small businesses now have pages, and the number continues to grow.
This is unsurprising; with so much activity, Facebook is an excellent way of publicising your business and of engaging with customers, actual and potential. But are you using it effectively?
What You Should Use Facebook For
Facebook is about relationship building: creating new relationships and strengthening your links with existing customers. Your aim is to generate a sense of belonging, to encourage people to identify with your brand.
This means creating content that people will want to read and share. Use Facebook to tell a story about yourself and your products or services. This could include pictures of new products or services, or pen portraits of your staff. You might want to post links to relevant news stories: perhaps Paris Fashion Week if you run an upmarket clothes shop, or an environmental campaign if you manufacture eco-friendly products.
Quick tips or snippets of useful information will also engage readers and encourage them to return to your page. For instance, food retailers might offer recipes, while a financial advisor could run a series of posts with money-saving ideas.
However you should resist the temptation to use your Facebook page for hard sell advertising. People come to Facebook primarily for entertainment, and they will not visit your page unless they are interested in what you have to say– and they will certainly not share advertisements with their friends!
Maximising Your Reach
As well as engaging with current customers, you need to encourage new people to visit your page, with a view to driving more traffic to your website and, ultimately, to your business. Facebook relies on people sharing content, and the key to maximising your reach is through encouraging people to like, comment on, and share your posts.
Your job is to provide material that people will want to share. If you give careful consideration to the interests and needs of your target market, and post relevant content, you will find that likes and shares start to come naturally. You may wish to include humour-– this can be a good way of engaging an audience – but use it carefully, making sure that it does not undermine the integrity of your brand.
Try to get people to comment on your posts, when you can: the more comments you get, the more people will see the post. One way of stimulating debate is to ask a direct question at the end of a post (and you can even use questions as a way of generating some rough and ready market research.) Special offers and competitions can also be good ways of attracting people to your page and to your business.
Track Your Progress
You will want to assess the success of your Facebook strategy, and Facebook provides ‘insights’ on its business pages to help you do this. Insights provide a range of information including user demographics and the performance of individual posts. Remember that popularity is only part of the story; there is little point in a post that goes viral if the only people who read it are outside of your target audience.
Also, have a look at what your competitors do to promote their companies on Facebook. How many followers do they have, and what types of posts attract the most likes and comments?
The Future of Facebook Business Pages
You may have seen recent reports suggesting a decline in the usefulness of Facebook business pages. Facebook itself admits that it is limiting the ‘organic reach’ of posts (that is, the number of followers who see each post), a move that experts see as encouraging more paid posts and promotions.
Despite the move from ‘free’ to ‘paid’ Facebook remains the world’s primary social platform and businesses continue to benefit from its use. Your customers, particularly in the younger age group, still expect to find your business on Facebook; an expectation that looks set to continue for the foreseeable future. If you use it carefully as part of a wider social media strategy, Facebook can help you to grow and nurture your market.