Cracked image of facebook logo

How to crack facebook

 

As the most popular social media platform that reaches the widest range of people it would be rude not to start here.

There are two main ways facebook can be highly beneficial to your business;

  • to sell your products &/or services
  • to manage the reputation of your business and deal with frontline customer queries

However, most micro & small businesses will use facebook to sell their products &/or services but will need to keep the reputation in mind whilst doing so.

Therefore in this article, I’m going to focus on how to get the right ‘bums on seats’ or more to the point ‘hands in pockets’ with this, but will follow up with a piece on how to avoid bad social media practises that can have a negative impact on your business’ reputation (brand).

Every small business can get a healthy following on facebook, you just need to ensure your updates are of interest to your audience, that they are regular and that they maintain some sort of consistency.

But to cut it back, the first question is; who is your audience?

What type of people buy from you? Do they tend to be:

  • Male or female?
  • Belong to a certain age group?
  • What is their relationship status? I.E: single/co-habiting/married/kids?
  • Fit in to a certain salary / household income bracket?
  • Have a specific hobby / interest?

More often than not there will be a yes to at least one of these questions, and that’s a great start. Because the more you think about who your customers are as people, the sooner you will enter a mind-set of what will interest them on social media. This exercise obviously requires some generalisations, but it’s the best place to start, believe me.

I could go in to detail about how different types of people are grouped together for marketing purposes, but I don’t think it necessary for a small business to bury down in to such complexities. If you would like to see how audiences can be grouped for marketing research however, check out this example.

So, can you now build an idea in your head of a ‘typical’ customer for your business? Does he work a 9 to 5 and enjoy going to the footie and finishing it off with a few pints of a weekend? Or is he more of a homebody, enjoys a spot of gardening or cooking and a nice bottle of red. Or is she young, single and ready to mingle, enjoying an urban nightlife and a credit card buckling habit for clothes shopping? Or is she a working Mum, with a focus on family and bargain hunting? Whilst people rarely fit neatly in to any generalisation, you will get a picture of what inspires and motivates these different types of people and from that what kind of posts your specific audience or audiences will engage with.

Now you know your audience – how to get them to start following?

There are two basic types of facebook page; there is the ‘friend page’ and then there is the ‘fan page’.

The friend page is meant to be for individuals representing themselves and the fan page is meant for a business to use for marketing purposes. However, when setting up, it is far easier to get followers on the friend page, because you can simply send out friend requests to people and a percentage of those you send out will accept. However, the amount you can send out is limited because sending out more than a small handful a day is considered spamming and you will be blocked from sending out more requests and facebook will pop you on the naughty list.

The best page to represent any business is a Fan Page, it is the official channel and adds weight to your business’ reputation. It also offers access to some great stats (once you have 25+ fans) about what posts have gained the most engagement and what that engagement has been. You can also advertise with it, which can be a fantastic cost effective way of getting a deal out to thousands of potential customers in your area for as little as a tenner (I will cover this in a later post).

But starting out with a Fan Page is tough, because you have to wait for people to come to you! If there’s no one to see all the wonderful things you are sharing with them, what’s the point?

To kick your fan page off,  you can:

  1. get friends & family to Like to get the ball rolling
  2. offer Like/Share initiatives with your current customers/contacts (‘like & share my page to enter a prize draw’ etc)
  3. cheat – if you’d like to know a faster way to achieve a good solid followerbase then drop me an email/tweet/fb message & I’ll share the secret. It’s slightly cunning and as such I don’t want it laid out here for judgement and as a professional marketer I have not cheated myself, however I did gain 1,300 fans overnight for one page I managed. But most small businesses need a helping hand when they’re starting out or branching out in to social media and I’m happy to help, no catch, I promise!

Now you’ve got some followers, how are you going to engage them?

This can be straightforward, or it can require a bit of imagination. For example, if you own a catering business you can simply post photos of the wonderful creations you make. A lot of people love to see photos of tasty looking food on their facebook feed. It inspires and excites and over time will attract a decent handful of post likes and some shares, both of which will attract more page likes.

However, most small businesses don’t create ‘sexy’ things. They offer more mundane services that aren’t going to set the world of social media on fire.

For example; a cobbler/key cutter is going to struggle to get much interest when posting about fitting some new heels on a pair of brogues or cutting a new set of 5 lever chubb keys … but with a bit of imagination the social media world is the Cobbler’s oyster.

Because a Cobbler doesn’t have to share information on their own work, they can share information on the ‘subject’ of their work. So Dave the Cobbler could decide to post photos of outrageous footwear styles from across the world, and pepper them with comments such as ‘wouldn’t fancy changing the soles on these bad boys’ etc. Or he could write his own online quizzes (you can make great quizzes for free here) such as ‘What do your shoes say about you?’ or ‘Do you have a shoe obsession?’ If a quiz hits the right spot, even if it is based on silliness rather than any actual research, people will like & share. Because we love to share funny things that make a statement about our personalities (providing the statement is positive, of course).

If the posts are consistently entertaining, people will follow and interact. And whilst results won’t happen over night, the next time your ever growing fan base needs a shoe repair or some keys cutting, your business is in the forefront of their mind, not only because you appear in their facebook feed, but because they already have a sense of trust for your business, because the sub-conscious relationship has already begun, they relate to your facebook posts, therefore they feel that they relate to you and your business.

So the next time someone who likes your page needs a shoe repair or some keys cutting, you are at the forefront of their consciousness. And of course, when you decide to introduce a special deal, you have a ready made audience there to read about it and act upon it.

Every type of business is different, but it will help to get some pointers from how others running your type of business are doing it. Check out the ones I’ve found below along with why I think they work so well (sadly, I’ve yet to find a good Cobbler page).

LikesBusinessA Brief Review
3,106FloristThese guys offer a perfect mix of stunning photographs of their & others’ work along with commentary on what flowers are in season and what suits what occasion.
2,048CatererA great mix of photos of tasty dishes they’ve made & stunning venues they’ve laid out.
1,025CaféThese guys mix up photos of delicious dishes they’ve prepared with staff, customers & events. Every time something comes out the oven they think ‘shall I take a pic?’ which is fantastic, mouth watering photos to tempt the local populace.
1,123GreengrocersBased around the corner from me, these two grocers are packed with personality and they’ve added all that quirkiness to their facebook page, which has attracted a firm and engaged following.
5,944BakeryAnother example of where your product alone is ‘sexy’ enough to attract a strong following. These guys ensure the images they post are of a high standard and showing their products to their best advantage.
21,784Auction HouseThis is one I set up in 2010, as far as consumers are concerned an auction house is about bargain deals. I used the facebook page as a simple platform to offer as much product information of upcoming auctions as possible, keeping text to a minimum, with lots of easy to swipe images and easy to find information about when & where auctions were to take place. The site has maintained its consistency through the last 5 years and has a solid & engaged following.
227Auto RepairsI finally found a mechanics that uses imagination with it’s content, they offer memes & comment on driving in general, although if it posted more regularly it would get more fans.
483TatooistThis business set up about 4 months ago & recognise that their work, as an artform is an attraction in itself. They’ve attracted nearly 500 fans in 4 months.

You do however, need to keep the faith with this and don’t expect to get it right straight away, keep an eye on which of your posts are getting the best responses and post similar. You may also hear that Facebook is no longer as effective because your posts will only reach a percentage of your fans, but that is why their engagement is key, if they engage your posts will reach them.

It is still such a valuable marketing tool, and the cost of it is simply your time. There is an art to engaging customers and it’s a skill you can learn, you’re not expected to pick it up over night. However, by investing that time you are saving yourself hundreds of pounds that you would be using advertising on an annual basis.

If you have further information on this topic or would like me to start you off with some ideas, please post a comment here or reach me by social media, I’m happy to help.

For those that aren’t familiar with facebook and things mentioned above check out this Jargon Buster & How tos

Best of luck!

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