With social media right at your fingertips, why not put it to good use in your small business. We'll share the advantages of Facebook marketing, plus tips for ensuring and measuring its success.
Successful marketing is all about strategic presence. So as a result, social media has become an integral part of our lives today—both as business owners and as consumers. Today, it’s nearly impossible to approach brand presence or marketing without addressing social media marketing as a key component.
The best part about social media marketing is that it offers something for everybody. While there is no limit to the extraordinary things that brands with extensive budgets can do, small- and medium-sized businesses can also use social media for various purposes—even on a shoestring budget. In this article, I’ll discuss the vistas opened up by Facebook marketing for small businesses and suggest how you can tailor your content to make the most of these.
Social media is a noisy place, so getting through to your audience is not an easy task.
First, What Are the Advantages of Facebook Marketing for Small Business Owners?
Simply put: The very low-cost addition (or alternative) to traditional marketing. The unique advantage of Facebook marketing is the ability to target your content to a specific audience. This allows you to create content that ranks high in relevancy to your customers.
Use Facebook Marketing for the following:
1. Build Brand Awareness
You can get the word out about your brand, new products and product updates using Facebook. As I mentioned earlier, these messages can be targeted to specific interest groups that fall within a particular age group and geographical location. This helps position your brand and its products within a niche space. You can simply construct your brand personality based on your client profile.
If, for instance, your brand offers interior design services, your target market probably includes men and women who are interested in redecorating a space or are in need of design inspiration. With this information at your fingertips, you can create Facebook posts that address trends in design, popular color palettes, etc. to connect with this niche audience. This, in turn, will bring life to your brand and your expertise.
2. Engage Your Target Audience, Create a Community
Social media is a noisy place, so getting through to your audience is not an easy task. What’s even more difficult is retaining the interest of the audience you have. Facebook allows brands the capability to filter the audience of individual posts.
This allows brands to up the relevance factor of their content. Apart from posts that advertise products, brands can also create content that addresses issues that are of interest to different sections of their audience.
Take a look at the options you have to target your posts:
Also, you can control the audience of your posts by specific demographic, geographic or linguistic groups. Note, these options are available on posts that you haven’t put money behind. For promoted posts, you can narrow this further and be guaranteed that a certain number of people belonging to the groups you have specified will see the post.
Engaging with your brand and providing value is key. Educational and entertaining content typically works best when engaging your audience on social media. “Beginner’s Oil Painting”, a Facebook page dedicated to oil painting tips, does this without expectation:
Not only does this get them incredible levels of engagement, this gets social media audiences hooked on to what the brand might have to say.
3. Address Consumer Questions and Feedback
More and more brands are taking to social media to provide customer support and receive queries, compliments and even complaints from customers. Nothing impresses me more than a brand that painstakingly replies to every customer query, even if they are not exactly seeking support.
One of the things that set SMBs apart from larger corporations is that they have the opportunity to provide better, personalized customer support. A great response rate on Facebook can attest to this and reassure potential customers. Exemplary customer support can convert a happy customer into a brand evangelist. They can get the word out about the stellar service your business has provided.
4. Sell Your Services
Ultimately, the purpose of Facebook marketing is to drive sales. While great customer support and engaging content can bolster the impression people have about your brand and eventually lead to more sales, Facebook’s features also facilitate more ‘direct’ sales. This is highly true for SMBs which offer products and services that can be purchased online and for app entrepreneurs.
On your brand’s Facebook Page, you can have a call to action that is most suited for your business. If you offer a SaaS product, you can add a ‘Sign Up’ button or a ‘Contact Us’ button. You can also direct them to the purchase section of your website with a ‘Shop Now’ button.
Facebook ads are fairly cheap compared to a TV-ad spot or print ads. They can feature your product and take them directly to your website, or get them to you. They also come with a boost in reach. Your Facebook ads will reach a guaranteed number of potential customers.
The way social media audiences use particular social networks evolve over time. Brands now look to Facebook more as an advertising platform than for community-building and conversations. In such a scenario, it helps if your business can set aside a small budget for promoting posts on Facebook. This would help achieve these goals better.
On a Budget? How to Create Amazing Content That’s Optimized for Facebook Marketing
Consistency is key when it comes to Facebook marketing. Marketers have to publish engaging content regularly in order for the brand to have a vibrant social presence. There is no paucity of the types of content brands can put up on Facebook. While some, like 360 videos, demand specific equipment and some others involve high costs, there are quite a few content types SMBs can try out.
Before we deal with some of these, it is important to remember that the choice of content type should be guided by your brand’s social media objectives. Say, for instance, you want to establish yourself as a thought-leader within your industry. Live videos and tutorials featuring experts in the field is one way to go. If instead, you want to get more website visits, you can boost your Posts that carry links to a webpage that has some engaging content.
Use Compelling Images
While this is too broad a category, the effect of accompanying your posts with visual content cannot be overemphasized. It’s been found that images can fetch 2.3 times more engagement than posts that have only text.
This is not surprising as images stand out more than text when people scroll through their Newsfeeds. It also condenses information into an easily digestible format. A tool that I often suggest to those who do not want to unduly burden their over-worked designers is Pablo. Using this tool, you can search for stock photos that are most appropriate for your post, apply a filter and add in text.
You can always use professionally-shot images of your products that you have from creating brochures, ads etc and repurpose them in Facebook posts.
As SMBs usually boast of a tight-knit workforce, photos of your workplace, employees and events that take place at work, or ones your company was part of are a great way of portraying your company as a fun place to work at. Further, it helps humanize your brand.
Run Contests to Increase Engagement
Contests are a great way to exploit the participatory, interactive nature of the platform. Contests that are fun, relevant to your Fans and offer an attractive prize are huge crowd-pullers. Giving away vouchers as prizes are a great way to get people to visit your store or website.
If you have an online purchase facility, make sure to use a coupon code using which you can track the revenue that you gained from running Facebook contests. As more people interact with your Post, the potential reach of your future Posts will go up.
Contests can also get you valuable feedback from your audience. Brands can understand their audiences’ likes and interests better. This could even be used to get feedback about the product as well, like Voss has done:
Create User-Generated Content
Quite like contests, the success of this type of posts depends on the participation of your fans. Content that is created by your fans is like testimonials for your brand or product. Photos of your fans using your product or accounts of how it has helped them are excellent ways to showcase user-experience.
You can also center this around your brand’s slogan or motto. This works almost like word-of-mouth marketing and builds the brand’s visibility and reputation within fans’ friend networks.
Check out how Ross Dress for Less won engagement with sharing this fan post featuring their merchandise:
Implement Internal “Culture” Content
Startups often post about various activities that happen at the workplace. This is an excellent way to communicate to your audience the work culture at your company. Such posts contribute to how your brand is perceived. Often, SMBs have a very cohesive, young and enthusiastic workforce.
Features about your employees and their experience working with the company can help put a face to your brand. It also contributes to employee-ownership and better morale. Here’s a great example from Xcel Energy Colorado:
Share Live Videos and Tutorials
Facebook’s Live Video feature is well-suited for showing your product in action. There are any number of things you can telecast live including product demos, tutorials, spotlight events, workplace fun etc.
The best thing about live videos is that it is flexible about the device you use to record it. You can use a smartphone camera or if you have a camera that can capture better images, you can hook that up as well.
Giving demos through live videos works out to be just as (or even more) effective than ads at a fraction of the cost. Live videos come across as less rehearsed, lending it more credibility. Further, brands can establish themselves as thought-leaders and experts in their industry. For example, take a look at this live video shared by Bloom That:
In addition to the production director showing off her skills in the brand’s core area, tying up with MyDomaine lent them better visibility and reach. Striking up an association with an influencer (could be a celebrity, expert, Youtuber or a publisher) is one way to make the most of a live video.
Facebook gives native videos better reach than other types of content. This makes the case to do more videos and live videos more compelling. Promoting the live video post-airing can further its reach and thereby, get more engagement.
Getting the Results You Need: How to Ensure Engagement and Return-on-Investment
If I condensed Facebook marketing strategies into one golden rule, it would be “measure”. All key decisions, from setting your social media goals on Facebook to deciding which type of content to post have to be taken based on data.
To start off, evaluate past data on your social media performance to arrive at content types and topics that resonate with your audience. If you find that promotional offers, contests or giveaways are not really getting you the results you need, it is probably a sign that your audiences need more convincing about the product that you offer. It might also mean that you need to build better visibility for your brand and take a call on whether you need to boost such Posts.
It is also important to consider paid efforts on Facebook. The difference in the reach that organic content gets vis-à-vis paid content is staggering. Promoting posts is not too expensive either. It makes sense to promote content that involved high costs and effort. Even here, it is essential that you consult data to see which kind of posts you should promote and at what time of the day you should publish it.
However, it is not enough that you look at how well or poorly you have done. You cannot take a call on what content works best with your audience based on how your posts have done alone. Marketers need to be aware of the trends in their industry and among competitor and aspirational brands. This way, content types that are all the rage with your target audience can be identified and tapped into.
In addition to such top-down approaches, it is also important to drill down to the finer details within a piece of content that are appealing. Especially with live videos, it is possible to see which part of the video gets the best engagement.
There should be a crisp, clear call-to-action. You might find that the audience’s decision to click on a link you post or share one of your posts might come down to this. It is, therefore, extremely important to evaluate the success of the different call-to-action copies you use.
In my opinion, the best thing about Facebook marketing is the rich data it provides. This allows SMBs room for a fair bit of experimentation until they can find their footing. This way, you can arrive at a strategy that resonates with your audience.
Facebook marketing should definitely be an integral component of SMBs marketing mix. With a keen eye on data, Facebook offers SMBs opportunities and rewards galore.
about the author
Lakshmanan (Lux) Narayan is a thought leader, TEDx speaker and CEO and Co-Founder of , the social media intelligence company. This article was put together using Discover to identify high-performing content. FreshBooks readers can sign up for a .