Many business owners with a sincere interest in taking advantage of ‘social media’ have signed up for a Facebook Page for their business, only to discover that simply having a Page and making infrequent posts is not enough.
That said most small business owners take pride in working hard to provide good products and services to their clients. For these businesses, social media can offer a gold mine of opportunity. It can help strengthen relationships with existing clients and introduce us to new potential clients that may not even know we exist.
With social media, as with most things, success rarely comes overnight. And, it is not a ‘build it and they will come’ scenario. It is more like a garden that takes regular work and tender loving care to produce good results. Like a garden, you need to:
1. Get the soil ready for planting the seed:
- Create your Page and Name it – so you’re easy to find in Facebook search.
- Create a distinct User Name – this is the URL or web address that you will use on promotional material, business cards, etc. Having a distinct URL that is consistent with your website and other social networking sites, where possible, makes it easier for people to remember how to find you online.
- Add your business info (About, Description, Mission, etc.)
- Add a Profile Picture – logo or photo – (180 x 180px) – this is what will show up beside any of your posts to easily identify your business
- Add a Cover Image (851 x 315 px) – this image adds to your branding by allowing you to post a good size image to the top of your Page. There are some restrictions as to what you can post, such as: no price, purchase or discount info; no contact info, such as websites, email or street addresses; no references to user interface elements such as ‘Like’ or ‘Share’; no calls to action, such as ‘Get it now’ or ‘Tell your friends’.
2. Plant the seed:
- Tell people “We’re on Facebook… ‘like’ us and stay connected”.
- Use email, Twitter, LinkedIn, your website, print material… anything and everything to get the message out.
3. Water it:
- Post at least once a day six days a week. Better yet, post twice a day at least 4 hours apart. (Facebook is not like Twitter and posting too often is frowned upon by most followers.)
- Make sure your posts are items fans will find helpful, shareable and interesting. These types of posts are most likely to engage your fans.
- Use images, photographs and links to video where possible.
- Include links back to your website where at all possible. (Your website is the hub of your online presence.)
- Pay attention to what people are and are not connecting to. (Don’t judge this too quickly – check out the Facebook Insights to get a sense of what people are interested in.)
- Invest 15 to 30 minutes each day in posting, responding and analyzing.
4. Fertilize it:
- Look for appropriate opportunities to engage with fans. Respond when people comment on or share your posts.
- Post intriguing questions.
- Handle negative stuff openly, promptly and graciously.
- Have a Cover Image that makes your page standout when people visit your business on Facebook.
- Add additional information to the Custom Apps areas. These allow you to provide additional information (similar to pages), specials, your Twitter feed, etc. for people to click on and find out more. The apps are placed to the right of the ‘Photos’ and ‘Likes’ icons beneath your Cover Image.
5. Weed it:
- Do a regular inventory of your site, and your business.
- Is there anything that needs to be done differently, anything you’re not doing that you could do to help build your online presence and fan base?
- The new Facebook Insights feature has a wealth of information that can help with this process.
6. Be Patient:
- Seeds don’t bloom overnight. So too with Facebook. It takes a while for the network to build.
- If you do your part in time you will see results. But in order to see results you have to do the work, be persistent and give it time.
7. Enjoy it:
- Enjoy watching your fan base grow and contribute to great earned word of mouth advertising that helps build your business.
Give your social media strategy, and in this case Facebook, the attention it needs and deserves to achieve the results you are working towards. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Sue is the owner of 911SmalBiz, a social media and internet marketing organization with a passion for helping small businesses increase their impact, expand their market share and improve their bottom-line.