by Brad Trites, Account Manager, Twin Creek Media
I am going to make a very bold statement: "There is no marketing tool available to small businesses more powerful than Facebook". I guess after making a pretty big statement like that, I better support it.
As a small business owner, the last time you took out a really expensive full-page ad in your city's most popular phone directory or ran a TV or radio ad, did it provide you with constant referrals? Did your clients receive timely updates about new products that you are carrying or your daily specials? What about actively building your brand awareness, did it do that for you? A properly managed business page on Facebook has the ability to do all of these things and a lot more without having to be that word that all small businesses dread, "expensive".
A Trusted Source
For most businesses the best source of new clients is usually referrals. When a friend tells you that they really like a certain restaurant, you are more likely to try it out. On Facebook, you follow a business's page by clicking that page's "Like" button. When you do this, your action is posted in the News Feed of your friends. You essentially just told all of those people, "I LIKE this and you should check it out!". Since you are an interesting person with great taste, some of your friends will do just that, and guess what? If they hit "Like", they will automatically tell all of their friends. Some of those people will take things one step further and even visit your website and possibly become a real customer.
Most businesses are constantly changing. They begin to carry new products. They run new promotions. They win an award. They have product tips or advice to share. They land new clients. These are all pieces of information that a small business wants their customers to know about as quickly as possible. Not only that, this is information that your customers want to know about! Facebook gives small businesses the ability to communicate in real time to their customers. This is key in helping you strengthen relationships with your customers and build customer loyalty.
Tag you're it!
Once your small business has it's own Facebook page and you have managed to get a couple of hundred people to "Like" it, the next step is to engage your fans and turn them into your own marketing army. If you post compelling content on your page, there's a good chance that some of your followers will repost your items, "Like" it, Tag it, or Comment on it. Every time someone does one of these things, your brand gets placed in front of another large audience. Even if the majority of those people take no action themselves with the content, the more they see your name the greater their awareness of your brand becomes. If you're business was given the opportunity to place free ads in front of an audience every day, wouldn't you go for it? That is exactly the opportunity Facebook provides small businesses.
Lasers are cool½
One of the great things about Facebook for small businesses is that 'friends of a feather tend to flock together'. If your company's target market is 16 year old males that skateboard, chances are that those kids that "Like" your page have a Friends List dominated by other 16 year old boys that like to skateboard. Facebook provides an extremely effective way to put your brand in front of an extremely focused intended audience. Traditional marketing tools such as TV, radio, and magazine ads command huge premiums to access such focused target markets.
NOTE: Hey marketers! Did you know that the average age of a Facebook user is closer to 40 than 14!WARNING!
Simply setting up a Facebook business page is not enough to generate results. Like any marketing strategy, your Facebook initiative requires both commitment and planning. Compelling content needs to be regularly created and posted on your page and a two-way dialog needs to be maintained between your business and your followers. There is both an art and a science to using Facebook as a marketing tool. As such, if you are not prepared to learn what needs to be learned or able to commit the time required to manage your page, then you should strongly consider hiring a social media-marketing specialist.
Social media marketing creates engaging customer experiences, drives website traffic, foot traffic, and email/phone inquiries. Although social media is primarily about sharing & relationships, it ultimately results in more sales. Don't forget: online marketing tactics should be integrated with your offline efforts too!
At Twin Creek Media, we have setup Facebook pages for many businesses... both B2B and retailers selling direct to consumers. Facebook is just one social network among other notable ones: Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, StumbleUpon, etc. It's best to have an online marketing strategy that defines measurable goals and uses the best tools for the job. For a primer on the big picture, see our Social Media 101 article or download our Social Media Reference Card.
Need more convincing?
A properly executed Facebook strategy has the ability to generate new customers that are well informed on your business's developments and willing to actively market your brand on your behalf. Let's see your telephone directory pull that one off! If you want to chat more about this topic, come visit us at the Twin Creek Media Facebook page and we'll keep the conversation going!