With over one billion registered users as at February 2013 and over 600 million users logging into their account each day, Facebook has now become the most powerful social network and the most popular social media platform on the internet. The platform represents a golden opportunity for businesses of all sizes to reach and engage one-on-one with current, new and potential customers. No one wants to buy from or interact with a faceless brand, business or logo anymore. Nowadays, people want to buy from people and businesses they feel comfortable engaging with on a regular basis. Using Facebook for marketing is a logical step for any business.
Before deciding whether to join Facebook, it is important to first of all define the goals and objectives you want to achieve on the platform. Are you choosing Facebook as a tool that will support your business in some way or are you using it because you feel you have to be on Facebook (“because everyone’s on it!”)? This is very important, because it could mean the difference between success and failure. If you’re on Facebook simply because everyone else is there, it means you’re there without a strategy, and are not likely to get any meaningful rewards for being there.
In addition, it is important to note that Facebook can be a major tool to take on. Daily posting, community engagement, responsiveness and relationship cultivation are what you’re committing to.
Benefits of a Facebook Page
Facebook has many significant benefits for businesses of all sizes including large corporations, small businesses, local businesses, one-man bands, freelancers and other business-oriented professionals. While some of these benefits are similar to those of having a website, a number are unique to Facebook. Combined, the benefits listed below can lead to increased sales and profits for your business.
Facebook is a low-cost marketing strategy.
There is a plethora of highly effective marketing activities that can be used on Facebook for a fraction of the cost that it would cost through other media channels. This makes it ideal for small to medium businesses with a limited marketing budget. However, it is significant to note that although it will cost you nothing to setup a presence on Facebook, dedicated time and effort is essential when crafting a successful marketing plan and you’ll have to account for the time it takes to plan and execute your marketing strategy.
Increase brand awareness.
You can reach out to your customers and potential customers in a personal way by encouraging them to click the ‘Like’ button on your Facebook page. Facebook empowers your followers to share information they like with people they know. The average person on Facebook now has 140 friends. Once your customers like your page, their friends will receive your updates on their wall. This helps to build awareness of your business by encouraging customer feedback, sharing of information, and a positive affiliation with a brand. Because of the real connections of people on Facebook and the simplicity of sharing information with their friends and family, Facebook is a wonderful platform for potentially going viral with your brand.
Share basic information about your business.
Your Facebook page is a place where you can effectively publicize your business name, address and contact details, and briefly describe your products and services. Facebook lets you upload different types of content from your business including images, podcasts and videos. Because people are visually inspired, this can be a powerful way to communicate with customers and potential customers, allowing them to see your product or service without having to visit your premises. You can also talk about any other aspect of your business that is likely to help personalize your business and ultimately attract your target audience.
Build relationships with existing and prospective customers.
You can use Facebook to personalize your brand, engage and build relationships with your existing and potential customers. People don’t login to Facebook to be sold to. It is important to always bear in mind that Facebook is first and foremost a social networking site, not a medium to aggressively promote your products or services. You’ll have much greater success if you share information related to your business that is actually useful, beneficial or interesting to other users.
Whether you run competitions with free gifts, provide coupons or discounts, or even discuss customer issues, Facebook can serve to effectively engage customers. This increases your credibility and promotes your business by building long-term relationships with other users. For example, if you’re a veterinarian, you could post simple tips for looking after pets, timing them according to when particular health issues arise (e.g. ticks in summer). You should also listen as much as you talk. Paying attention to comments and posts made about your business, your industry, your product or service can provide valuable insights, allowing you to adopt meaningful strategies and plans of action.
Provide customer service and support.
You can provide customer service to your customers through Facebook by listening to what people are saying about your company, product or service. Customers can post after-sales questions on your Facebook wall, and your staff can answer them there. You can also create a post to inform your customers about new features, benefits or changes to your products or services. This type of interaction allows you to effectively evaluate the level of customer satisfaction with your company in order to provide a richer experience than you’ve been able to offer before.
Most customers these days typically use a variety of social media channels to vent their frustrations about their dealings with a particular business. If someone makes a complaint about an aspect of your customer service on Facebook, you can use that as an opportunity to show the world that you care about your customers and will go above and beyond the call of duty to make them happy.
Share useful and meaningful content from your business.
Social media is all about providing valuable information that can help solve problems and overcome pain points. So when sharing content, always bear in mind what the information can do for your target market. This way you are demonstrating your expertise, and at the same time building a relationship with them. By getting relevant and valuable information in front of your target audience even when they don’t need the products or services, it will plant the seed for when they do need them, and reduce their need to search with your competition.
Share pictures and videos from your business.
Facebook allows you to upload different types of content including images, podcasts, audio and video. This can be a powerful way to communicate with customers and potential customers, allowing them to see your product or service without having to visit your premises. Facebook also allows users to ‘tag’ photos to indicate if a Facebook friend appears in them. This function can be used to effectively promote your business. For example, a tour operator could post a photo on their page of a group going whitewater rafting, then invite each participant to tag their image in the photo. Each tagged image will show up as an update on the participant’s Facebook account, where their friends will see it too. This increases the level of interest in the picture, and your business.
Use Facebook to drive traffic to your website.
One of the most effective uses of Facebook is the traffic it generates to your Website. You can include links to your website on your Facebook page and Facebook ads. Customers who come to your website from Facebook are likely to be more receptive than the average visitor, because they already qualified and know enough about your business to click on the website link.
Facebook can analyse all the information that millions of users enter into their profiles. As the owner of a business page, you can pay to use this information to deliver targeted advertising to a specific group. For example, you could create Valentine’s Day cards appealing to different age groups, genders and relationship statuses. When you target each ad to smaller, specific groups of people at one time you’ll be able to customize your ad so it’s more personalized and appealing to the audience you’re trying to reach.
Facebook pages give great SEO benefits.
Facebook pages are publicly available and indexable by Google. Facebook has high authority and PageRank, and Facebook pages will benefit from Facebook’s authority and standing on Google. Facebook will also rank well on Google according to the number of Facebook page Likes.
Facebook has a range of benefits to businesses. From developing a brand, to engaging with customers to increasing traffic, Facebook can help a business take off. As Facebook is a social platform care must be taken to ensure campaigns are undertaken with a social, more than a specific hard sale business, focus. If this is done then Facebook can bring success to your business.