Facebook is a huge opportunity for small businesses. I know that there are a lot of criticisms of Facebook when it comes to marketing a business – the biggest one being that people are not on Facebook to buy anything. But, as a relationship builder, there is nothing that offers more to small businesses.
As you probably know, Facebook is the biggest social networking site and it now boasts almost 160 million American users. To put that number in perspective, that is over half of the population of the United States and almost 70% of the online population. The sheer numbers of Facebook users are staggering and as a marketing tool, it is too big to ignore. But, like any other marketing tool, if it is not used correctly, you can end up at best wasting time and money and at worst damaging the reputation of your company or brand.
To Use Facebook Well, Avoid The Seven Deadly Sins!
1. Thou Shalt Not Let Your Facebook Wall Sit Dormant
You are probably better off not having a Facebook page than to have a page that is blank or hasn’t been posted on in months. Not much will turn a customer off more these days than to ask a question on social media and have it ignored or never answered. Customers today expect to be able to interact with your business, and they will ask questions, make complaints, and give testimonials on a Facebook page. Make sure that you consistently post on your page so that customers know that you are available and your customers will engage with you much more often.
2. Thou Shalt Not Be Boring
Nobody likes boring. Have a personality on your Facebook page. Sure, you have to keep it professional, but you can do that and have fun. Remember, people are on Facebook to connect with their friends. An interesting story, a funny picture, or a thought provoking question are all great ideas for posts. Keep a consistent personality throughout your posts and you will build a community that will engage with your business, liking and commenting on your posts which is exactly what you want. But if you leave the personality out of it, you will find that your page will be a pretty lonely place.
3. Thou Shalt Not Ignore or Delete Negative Posts or Comments
Negative posts and comments will come – it is a part of doing business in the social media age. As long as the poster did not use profanity or insult you personally leave the comment on your page. Make sure to respond to the comment, but do it professionally. Apologize for the bad experience. Offer to make it right with a discount, coupon, or a free replacement. Even if the original poster does not take you up on your offer, potential customers will see that you value customer service and will go the extra mile to make things right in case of a bad experience.
4. Thou Shalt Not Use Only Text Updates
Ignoring pictures and images is a truly deadly sin in Facebook marketing. If you want your customers to engage with your page (and you do!) you need to tap into the power of pictures. A recent study by HubSpot has shown that picture posts generate 53% more likes and 104% more comments than text only posts. Those numbers are huge, and in today’s world where engagement is so important, pictures cannot be ignored. Don’t neglect text only posts entirely though. Many Facebook marketers argue (and have results to back up their argument) that text posts, though they do not get the engagement, end up reaching more people than image posts. A good mix of image and text posts is a great way to go.
5. Thou Shalt Not Auto Post Your Blog Posts
This one is easy. Auto posting to Facebook lowers likes, shares and comments by 70%. I know it is a little bit more time consuming to post manually, but when you consider the numbers and the importance of likes and comments, posting manually makes sense.
6. Thou Shalt Not Leave Your Cover Photo Blank
The cover photo is the most valuable real estate that you have on your page. While Facebook has some guidelines, asking you not to make your cover photo text based or promotion oriented, you can still use your cover photo to build your business. One popular way to use the cover photo is to make it into a collage of pictures of your product/service, your store/office, and your customers. This allows potential customers to see your business in action and to get a better idea of what you are all about. Another great way that businesses use the cover photo is to use a picture of their staff. This is especially powerful in service based companies where developing relationships is key. This can be an excellent way to start to build a connection with potential customers.
7. Thou Shalt Not Sell Anything on Facebook!
As the criticism goes, people are not on Facebook to buy things, so don’t ever try to overtly sell on Facebook. It is fine to occasionally offer discounts, deals, or free stuff from your page, but trying too hard to sell will very quickly turn your audience off. It is difficult to build up an audience for your Facebook page. The last thing you want to do is to have people unlike your page because you are being too salesy.