How to Make Facebook Work for Your Small Business
Facebook helps local small businesses share information, deals and specials with their customers.
Earlier this year, I read a USA Today article which cited Facebook as a top ten small business trend for 2011, but there's still a lot of debate among small business owners about whether or not they should take the plunge and sign up for Facebook pages. With so much information flooding the scene, many small business owners aren't sure where to start, or how the social media stories of big brands can translate into success for their small, local businesses.
I spoke with a couple of local business owners who prove that Facebook isn't just for big brands. These small businesses are using Facebook to reach out to local customers and get them into their businesses.
Robin Ocampo, who owns Arbutus Martial Arts with her husband Michael Ocampo, notes “I started by using my personal Facebook page to promote our kickboxing classes and noticed great response, so I decided to set up a business page. We use our page to announce special events, upcoming classes and class cancelations. I'm extremely happy with the success of the business page.”
With warm weather on the horizon, businesses owners like Tom Prosperi, of Rita's in Arbutus, offer Facebook fans special coupons and offers they can use in the store, as well as updates on new flavors and in-store events. “I'm using Facebook to get people to visit our store and share our deals with their friends. We're definitely starting to notice more people coming in asking about our Facebook promotions,” he comments.
Other local businesses such as Sorrento's of Arbutus, Woof Pet Grooming, Fish Head Cantina, Chick-fil-A at Lansdowne Station, R/C Hollywood Cinema 4 and our very own Arbutus Patch.com are also taking advantage of Facebook, using it share news, announce weekly menu specials, promote contests and raise awareness.
If you're considering adding Facebook to your business strategy, consider these tips:
Tip #1 - Find Your Target Market
Facebook isn't the only social network small business owners and their customers are using. Sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter are increasingly popular, and may be more appropriate for reaching your target market. Ask your customers which social media sites they use.
Tip #2 - Come Up With a Strategy
Compose a list of the types of information you can share with your customers. You can announce sales, introduce them to new products, get their opinions about your company, encourage customers to participate in contests and giveaways or post fun facts about your company or community. Sprinkle your page with variety to keep customers interested and active on your page.
Tip # 3 Set Aside Time
It may take less than an hour to set up a Facebook business page, but you also have to set aside time to post to your page, and interact with your members. Check in at least once in the morning and once in the evening. If you don't have time, delegate the task to a social media savvy employee, an intern, virtual assistant or social media consultant who understands your company's brand.