Facebook has 1.15 billion users. Each of these users spends an average of 8.3 hours a month on the site. You don’t have to be a genius at math to work out that this social media giant is a force to be reckoned with.
It’s no wonder that wherever you look, people are telling you to hop on board the Facebook bandwagon. It makes sense to try and connect with this phenomenal audience.
Facebook can be an extremely powerful tool for small businesses. When approached with care, it can grow your business in ways you never thought possible – if, and only if, it’s done properly.
Before you go charging into the world of Facebook with all your barrels blazing, there are a few things that you need to consider. Pay attention, plan carefully, and you’ll soon be ready to get a piece of the Facebook action.
1. Set Your Goals
As with every marketing initiative, it’s important to know what you want from your efforts. If you know what you want, then after a fixed time, you’ll know whether you’ve been successful. That being said, your goals should be as concrete and measurable as possible.
Do you want to build your brand?
Getting people to recognize your name and associate it with your product or service is a huge part of growing your business.
Are you hoping to attract new customers?
New customers mean more sales. Will you be using Facebook to drive customers to your company website?
Do you want to improve customer service and support sales?
Facebook can be an excellent way to converse with your customers, helping them with their problems and showing them how to use your product or service.
How about engaging your audience?
By building a lasting relationship with your customers you’ll give them a reason to recommend your product or service.
These are all things that can have a real impact on your bottom line, and can be measured using Facebook Insights.
Your goals will also influence the way you as a business interact with Facebook, guiding your tone and your strategy, both of which need to be covered by your social media policy.
2. Write a Social Media Policy
Writing a comprehensive social media policy is vital to any company that is planning on setting up a Facebook page.Intel has a great social media policy, so take a look for further ideas.
Your policy should cover:
How are you going to address your customers? A young, fun brand will sound completely different to a company selling life insurance, and the tone needs to match up with your business. As well as being correct, your tone needs to be cohesive, especially if you’re going to have more than one person posting Facebook updates, which leads to…
Who is going to post for your company? The person that you choose needs to be an effective communicator who understands the nuances of your product or service. Your admins should be defined in your social media policy, think carefully about who you choose and be sure to address how your employees discuss your company on their own social media accounts.
Your business’ Facebook page is the digital face of your company, and as such needs to show you in your best light. Your social media policy should outline what is and is not appropriate for your business to discuss online, and whoever is posting for your company needs to know what is expected from them at all times.
A procedure for dealing with negative publicity
As a public forum, it’s possible that disgruntled customers will use Facebook to discuss negative experiences that they may have had of your company. It is vital that you are prepared for this as mishandling negative publicity can be extremely damaging to your business. Aim to respond quickly to determine the cause and solution, and do your best to turn naysayers into brand advocates.
3. Think of Your Strategy
So you know what you want from Facebook, and you’re sure of your online persona, next you need to consider how you’re going to go about achieving these goals.
When and what are you going to post? Think about the expertise and content that you have readily available as a business. Do you have blogs, photos, interviews, videos or news updates? Could you write a useful how-to guide, or create a shareable infographic? Facebook has published an excellent guide to creating engaging page posts, so take a look at it if you’re short on ideas.
As well as this, it’s good practice to plan out a content schedule so that you know what to post and when, ensuring consistency for your fans and a clear-cut way forward for you. Be aware of how much time you’re willing to spend on your social media exploits, it’s just like any other marketing channel, if you don’t know how much time you’ve spent investing, you won’t know what your ROI is. Facebook can help you keep track of your schedule, with their post-scheduling facility, and tips for using it can be found on Social Media Examiner.
4. Setting Up Your Page… Properly!
Setting up your Facebook page can be a complex business, and it is best done ‘tied’ to your personal account as you will avoid business only page limitations (lacking the ability to ‘like’ other pages or invite friends, for example).
You will need to select a category for your business, carefully name your page, add a picture and cover photo, add basic information, review your permissions (you don’t want people cursing all over your page), and finally, share something. Luckily, you’ll know exactly what to share at this point because you will have it all laid out for you in your publishing schedule…
5. Watching Your Metrics
We already talked about goals, now it’s time to think about measuring them. Once you’ve been active on Facebook for a fixed amount of time (say, a month), you need to start looking at how successful your posts have been.
Key metrics to track include:
- Fan Reach (the number of fans who have seen any given post)
- Organic Reach (the number of people, both fans and non-fans who have seen any given post)
- Engagement (the number of people who clicked anywhere in your post)
- Click Through Rate (the number of people who have clicked on a link in your content, watched a video you’ve posted, or viewed a larger version of photograph)
Your metrics will help you measure the appeal of the content that you’ve been posting, the quality of the audience you have garnered, and help you identify ways of improving the content you’re posting, as well as its visibility.
This is just a beginners’ guide. The ins and outs of Facebook are many and varied, and it takes time to perfect your social media campaign. Making it work for your business is up to you, but Simply Business’ Small Business Guide to Facebook is an extremely handy tool to help you as you go forward with your efforts.
Have patience, experiment, but above all, persevere!
Beverley Reinemann is a freelance writer and blogger who spent three years traveling and working in Australia and New Zealand. Now back in London she splits her time between traveling, blogging, and her job in online marketing at Distilled.