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A 10-Step Facebook Cheat Sheet for Biz Owners

Despite its massive reach and wide adoption, Facebook remains baffling to many business owners. Facebook itself has never really understood small business, and hasn’t done a great job explaining how biz owners can use it to grow sales.

To Facebook’s credit, that’s starting to change as they provide more and better tools top help small firms, local businesses, professionals, start-ups and others leverage a platform that now claims over 1 billion users.  If you have a Facebook business page, you’ll be hearing more from Facebook as it roll’s out a variety of new ways for small companies to use paid advertising.

So far, however, the vast majority of local businesses are sticking with what they can get from Facebook for free – which is actually quite a lot.  Only about seven percent of small businesses surveyed recently by Merchant Circle are using paid promotional services on Facebook. That compares to 70 percent who are now using Facebook’s free features to promote their business.

The good news is that Facebook has upgraded the free tools and information it offers to help you succeed. The Facebook for Business section (www.Facebook.com/business) has helpful how-to tips and guidance on everything from building your page to best practices for engaging users. You’ll also find interesting stories on how other small businesses are using Facebook successfully, and a list of helpful resources.

Success always starts with building an engaging Business Page – the free foundation of your effort to grow with Facebook.  Here’s a quick 10-step cheat sheet on what to do:

1. Your Category

Choose a category and give your page a name that represents your business.

2. Your Photo

Pick a photo or logo to use as your “profile picture.” This is the smaller image associated with your page. In some cases, this might be your photo, a square version of your logo (beware: non-square logos can end up being chopped off), or some other graphic representation of your business.

3. Your Tag Line

Create a “tag line” or short sentence that captures briefly what your business is about – specifically what you do or sell, and the value you offer.

4. Your URL

Create a custom Facebook web address for your business that’s memorable and shareable.  The part you pick is what comes after Facebook.com. For example, Facebook.com/StateBicycle.

5. Your Cover Page

Select a “cover page” photo or other image – preferably something that people would associate with your business. Use a high quality image, as it will be featured prominently on your page. It’s the first thing people will see and should showcase your product, service or brand. Size restrictions are very specific. It’s best to use a horizontal image that’s 851 x 315 pixels. Avoid generic photos. It’s much better to use an image unique to your business, such as a popular menu item for a restaurant, or perhaps a customer using your product or service (with their permission). You might have to experiment with a few different images to see what looks best.  Avoid putting contact information or other business details in your image. Those should go in your “About” section.

6. Your News Feed

The “news feed” is the centerpiece of the Facebook experience. You can easily create different kinds of “news” or “posts” for your feed, including written text updates, photos, videos or questions. People who “like” your page will see your updates in their own news feeds (one reason you’ll want as many “likes” as possible). The news feed is where people spend 40 percent of their time on Facebook. This is where people engage and share ideas and information.

7. Your Posts

Short posts work best – no more than 250 characters (about 50 words). They’ll get 60 percent more likes, comments and shares than longer posts.

8. Your Sharing

The best things to share, however, are photos (including photo albums) and videos. People are twice as likely to engage with these as other types of posts.

9. Your Deails

To add details about your business, click on the Edit Page button in the admin panel. Then choose “Update Info” to change or add what you want.

10. Your Invitations

Invite people to like your page – including your community of friends, family, customers, employees and others who care about your business. The “Build Audience” button on your admin panel will show you some things to try.

Copyright © 2000-2012 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.

6 New Business Tips for Facebook Success

An estimated 42% of small businesses in the U.S. now have a Facebook page.  And about 70% of small businesses overall plan to use social media this year. But beyond that the landscape gets murky.  While having a Facebook page is now “the thing to do,” a decidedly small percentage of businesses have any idea what works on Facebook and what doesn’t.

The painful truth is that while having a Facebook page is a necessary first step to tapping social media marketing, the wrong approach can actually be harmful.   New research just out offers these guidelines for business success on Facebook:

1)      Avoid the “business hours” trap.  Most businesses post content to their Facebook pages during the middle of the day (roughly 10 am to 4 pm).  But that’s not when most people are listening. New research shows that businesses posting content to Facebook either before or after those hours get 20% more responses.  Your goal is to have your posts appear at the top of fan news feeds at a time when they are most likely to be looking.  Services such as HootSuite, TweetDeck and others let you schedule your posts to appear whenever you want.  Don’t post just because it fits your own schedule.

2)      Day of the week matters.  But it’s different for different types of businesses. Saturday is the worst day, followed by Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Most content is posted on Mondays, creating more competition and ”noise” to break through. Research conducted by Facebook shows that people are happier on Thursdays and Fridays (you can probably guess why), so engagement rates on those two days are nearly 20% higher overall.  

3)      Industry matters, too.  Best days to post will also depend on what type of business you have.  For example, weekends are for autos, and peak customer engagement for auto-related businesses is on Sunday, by a wide margin. No other day comes close. But according to Buddy Media, which provides social media services to big brands, few businesses in the auto industry have yet caught on to this.  Here are best days for other industries:  Finance (Wed. and Thurs.); fashion (Thurs.); Restaurants and Bars (Tues., Wed.); Healthcare and Beauty (Thurs.);  Sports (Sun.);  Travel (Thurs., Fri.).

4)      Don’t be bashful about asking people to “Like” your business on Facebook. According to Buddy Media’s research,  the direct approach – come right out and ask for it – works best.  In short, Buddy found that “fans” tend to follow directions well. But the simpler, the better.  If you want people to post comments, for example, ask a direct question and request a response.

5)      Avoid overtly promotional language.  On Facebook, experience shows that for most businesses, a soft sell approach works best.  For example, if you run a contest, using the words “event,” “win” and “winner” rather than “contest” or “promotion” will get better results.  People get excited about winning, while a “sweepstakes” sounds more like you are trying to sell them something.

6)      End with (the right kind of) a question.  According to Buddy Media, Facebook posts that end with a question get 15% more responses.  So if your goal is to generate engagement, end your post with a question.  But don’t ask “why.”  That’s too philosophical.  Instead, questions about when, where, would and should are much more likely to succeed in engaging visitors to your page.

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.