The Dos and Don’ts of Facebook for Local Businesses

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Not sure how to approach Facebook? You’re not alone. A lot of local business owners want to get their business on social media, but they just don’t know where to start or even what to do once it is started. If you’re feeling this way, Facebook is the safest place to start.

Facebook is a more powerful marketing channel than many local business owners realize. Although it has built a reputation for over-dramatic and self-involved posting, millions of people use it every day. Which means you can make connections with hundreds, if not thousands of members of your target audience, easily spread the word about your business, and increase your email marketing subscription base via Facebook.

As an advocate for local businesses, we’ve put together a list of the top dos and don’ts of using Facebook.

Do Post About:

Product/Service Updates and Details: Announce any updates to your products and services. You can create buzz for upcoming products or services by saying something like, “Hard at work on our newest product line. Stay tuned for updates.” If you can combine these kinds of posts with photos to generate extra interest, people will respond.

Customer Shout-Outs: Customers love to be mentioned on business pages. It makes them feel special to be mentioned, as if they are a celebrity for the day. They will be sure to share your post with friends and family if you mention them in it. To tag a customer in your post, put an @ sign in front of his or her name, such as “@John Smith.” There are several types of shout-outs you might want to try:

  • Fan of the week: Choose a fan who has been particularly engaged with your page and make him or her the fan of the week. Mention the fan, share his or her profile picture and point out a few things the fan has done to qualify for fan of the week. Not only will your fan feel special, but other fans will become motivated to engage with your content so that they can become fan of the week too.
  • Testimonials: Share a customer testimonial and include the customer’s name. Thank the customer for his or her testimonial.
  • Contest winners: Announce contest winners by name and ask other fans to join you in congratulating them.

Upcoming Events and Promotions: If you don’t know what else to post, now might be a good time to remind followers about upcoming events. Post a link to the event page and discuss how exciting the event will be for the participants. You can also post pictures from similar events you’ve held in the past to encourage followers to attend this one and build excitement.

Lots of local business owners hit writer’s block when they sign into Facebook because the platform is so overwhelming. If you’re not sure what to write, you definitely aren’t alone. Use the ideas above to generate some posts when you’re not feeling particularly inspired. If there is one thing that is simple to remember about Facebook, it’s that you will build more engagement with your customers through regular and consistent posting.

And Don’t:

Use Facebook Only To Sell: If you’re used to print advertisements, you may think that you’re supposed to use Facebook the same way you use a billboard: to post links to your sales pages and other landing pages. In the world of social media, however, this is a big no-no. People are turned off when they see a business posting nothing but links to its own website. The key to using Facebook is to remember that it is a social experience.

Customers are eager to connect with business owners on a personal level, so in order to succeed you need to post information that is relevant to your customers’ needs, not just links to your business. Try to create a mix of posts, such as photos, links to articles written by others, statuses suggesting solutions to common problems and links to your own website or articles. A good rule of thumb is make no more than 1 out of every 10 posts self-promotional so that customers can see you’re focused on them, not just on you.

Ignore Your Customers: Social media is social, which means it’s a two-way conversation. If a customer posts on your page, make sure to respond to him or her with 24 to 48 hours. If the customer has a complaint or problem, make sure to respond. Failure to respond to customers at all sends the message that you don’t care about customers, which can negatively impact your reputation. Everything you do online can easily be spread around the world, so protect your reputation by being proactive. You may also want to do the opposite of ignoring your customers: reward them for interacting with you. Giving customers rewards such as discount coupons is a great way to stand out online. You can even run a contest to reward your top contributors.

Buying Likes: Facebook likes are important to your overall marketing campaign, especially if you intend to convert some of your Facebook followers to email subscribers. However, resist the temptation to pay money for Facebook likes. This practice does more harm than good and can seriously hurt your reputation. Why?

  • The likes you buy may not belong to real accounts. Facebook regularly cracks down on fake accounts and on real accounts that are associated with them, so you could get into trouble if you buy likes. You also might lose credibility if your customers realize that some of your likes belong to fake accounts.
  • Purchased likes may not be members of your target audience. It doesn’t do your local business much good to have 10,000 likes from a foreign country where people are too far away to ever take advantage of your business.
  • The likes you buy generally don’t engage with you online. It’s better to have 200 engaged prospects than 2000 prospects who never interact with you on your page. Unengaged prospects don’t convert to sales, so they won’t do your business much good.
  • If your real prospects realize that some of your likes are fake or paid for, you may lose their trust, making it much harder to make sales or attract new potential customers

It can be really hard to figure out what to do on Facebook at first because so many people are using it. If you avoid careless behaviors that can put you on people’s bad side and engage your customers with honest, value based posts, you will attract a large following and convert prospective customers into paying customers.

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