Facebook has become an integral part of the digital culture: over 300 million people presently share photos, post anecdotes and share ‘what’s on their mind’ in the context of their own personal community. Facebook offers an unprecedented opportunity for people to stay connected with family and friends—often long-lost—on a daily basis.
In the past year, Facebook has introduced some new capabilities that allow you to use their network as a platform for your business. They are refining and expanding these capabilities over time—so it’s only going to get better. Small businesses have yet to leverage Facebook to its full potential, and it’s a great time to jump in and use this tool to transform your marketing efforts.
Using Facebook is really not very different from offline social networking, which has always been key to growing and maintaining a small business. Creating relationships and getting to know regular customers has always been vital, as good customers will recommend your business to their friends and family members and expand your business.
While it may not be apparent to many small business owners how they can translate offline networking into social media, Facebook is really the digital equivalent: it is the ideal social platform for connecting with your busy customers. When customers becomes your ‘fan’ on your Facebook page—you can use this opportunity to update them on what is going on with your business, which will allow you to remain relevant to them. You can use Facebook to become a part of your customer’s everyday life—and they will share you with their network of friends.
So for example—if you are a restaurant owner, you could use Facebook as a place where you could talk about your weekly specials—what is new and fresh in the kitchen. You could publish daily or weekly specials with accompanying photos to tantalize people (have someone on the waitstaff do this on an iPhone as their side work!).
You could log in to Facebook and offer special promos to your fans anytime—‘come in tonite for dessert on the house’—or could identify your most loyal customers and send them a particular offer via Facebook email such as:
Would love to see you and Louise soon—come in this week and enjoy a glass of wine on me. Just mention my name if I’m not around. Hope you and the family are doing great.
All the best,
This same type of effort can be used by any small business to create and maintain rapport with customers. Spending even 10 minutes a day on Facebook can be a great business investment—and it doesn’t cost anything.
However, it is important to remember that having a Facebook page is NOT an advertisement, or a billboard—it’s a dialogue. If you come across as too self-promotional, it simply won’t work. If you are in question about what to post, just imagine what you would say or give to a customer in person. If you keep this in mind, your communications will remain conversational and will utilize Facebook as it is designed.
When used in the right way, Facebook can encourage loyalty and increase word-of-mouth business with very little effort on your part. To remain competitive in today’s economy, I think it’s wise to use this platform to the fullest.