Social media can be daunting, especially for small business owners strapped for time and manpower. However, leveraging your presence on Facebook can be a simple, effective way to generate buzz for your business without draining your marketing budget.
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Lisa Anteau, senior vice president at Web.com, said small businesses are slowly realizing that having a presence both on and offline is a necessary measure for success.
"They understand the way people communicate has changed dramatically," Anteau said. "Word-of-mouth is the lifeblood of advertising for small businesses, and Facebook is important for connecting and sharing word-of-mouth."
Getting started on Facebook doesn’t have to take a ton of time. Here are Anteau's five Facebook must-do's for small business owners:
No. 1: Create a professional company page. Instead of having a personal page for your small business, Anteau said having a company page where people can become 'Fans,' of your business is more effective.
"It makes you stand out," she said. "This way you have a 'Welcome' tab and people become your 'Fans' as opposed to 'Friends.' It's about controlling the user experience."
No. 2: Generate fans. The first 25 fans a professional page generates are key, Anteau said, because once you have 25 fans you are entitled to a vanity URL. This vanity Web address is essential for streamlined marketing, she said.
"This is much easier for a small business owner to use in marketing and conversations," Anteau said. "Make sure you are linking your business Web site and company [Facebook] page, and that it is listed on all of your current customer touch points, invoices and newsletters." Another way to generate fans is to network with other local small businesses that have a strong presence on Facebook, she said.
No. 3: Communicate with your fans. Generating fans is half the battle—but keeping them interested is what really matters. Remember that fans don't want to be sold and marketed to at all times, Anteau said.
"They want to see different things like articles, information and access to discounts and exclusive offers," she said. "They also want to be entertained." Remind them why they were a 'Fan' of your small business in the first place.
No. 4: Leverage your social word-of-mouth. Facebook has made it very easy for users to share, recommend and comment on the things they like and loathe. Word-of-mouth has always been the backbone of small businesses, Anteau said, so keep that in mind and work your audience.
"Facebook questions is a great way to build content," she said. "Also try out cause marketing—identifying a cause your business stands behind, ideally something that pertains to your business in some way." Helping out a charity is a great way to start a viral presence and engage your fans.
No. 5: Stay involved. Small business owners are often short on time, but Facebook is something that shouldn't fall by the wayside.
"It does require an investment of time, and it can't be put on autopilot," Anteau said. "Make sure you are monitoring your wall, responding to positive or negative feedback. People expect engagement and response on their part—you need to go in with open eyes."
The National Federation of Independent Business recently held a Webinar on this topic. For more information, click here.