Whether you’re a large company or a one-man or one-woman show, there are ways to grow your business with the help of Facebook. In 2016, the social media platform had nearly two billion active users. It’s no news to you that everyone and their grandmothers (semi-literally, to the chagrin of many of us) are on Facebook. Actively, at that. So how can you use Facebook strategically in order to generate interest in your business?
1. Love the product you’re promoting.
The key to success in Facebook marketing is to do so by attraction, not by coercion (we’ll talk more about this a little later in the list). People are generally interested in what others are passionate about. If you genuinely love what you’re selling, it will show. On the other hand, if you don’t believe in it, unfortunately, that shows as well. If you don’t buy into what you’re selling, neither will others. Either find something to love about it, or move on. It’s a great big world out there, and there’s something for everyone– especially you.
It’s as simple as this: If I’m your friend, then we probably have some common interests. If you love and are passionate about something, it may become something I come to love. At the very least, it’s probably worth my looking into. Talking about the thing you love is not accosting. It puts no one on the spot, and it begs no favors from anyone. It does, however, plant seeds of interest. If you’re successful at this, you will likely spark intrigue, even. Be the expert, not just on the product or service you’re promoting, but on the topic, industry, etc. Research, post your findings, and share with the world this passion you’ve adopted (or perhaps were born with).
When you’ve proved that you are the resident go-to guy or gal on this topic, you will be the first person your friends approach when they have a question that lingers in that arena, if they know someone who is interested in hiring a person with your expertise, or better yet, if they’re looking to buy into what you’re selling. Whatever it is you’re promoting, find what you love about it. Pick your favorite items. Talk about who and what inspires you. Spread. The. Gospel.
Someone is bound to catch the bug from your zealous admiration of wheatgrass juice blends or couples photography sessions or eco-friendly face masks or whatever it is you love. Think about it: You’re probably promoting things you love for free, whether it’s books, movies, music, or local restaurants. Do yourself a favor: talk up yourself a bit and get paid.
2. Show off.
Showing off your work (e.g. graphic designs, photography) or results (e.g.weight loss wins, skincare progress) is beneficial for various reasons. For one, your friends want to see you do well. You lost fifty pounds? Show us, and let us celebrate your success! A major publication wants to feature a photograph you took? Amazing! Let’s all buy four copies each!
Moreover, the proof is in the pudding, especially if what you’re celebrating is also what you’re selling. People don’t want you to tell them how good your product is– they want you to show them. A finished product is the best testimony, if that product is effective, of course. So now you’ve invested yourself in something you love, you’re relishing in the benefits of this beloved something, and you’re showing proof of its worth. By providing these opportunities for your friends to rejoice with you, as well as presenting something to pique their interest, you are contributing to the very reason most of us use Facebook in the first place, right? Again, go on get paid to do what many of us on Facebook do already: show off. But keep some pointers in mind…
3. Keep it professional.
Some of this may seem obvious, but if you want to build business by way of Facebook, it is time to do some housekeeping. Visit your own profile and ask yourself if you would trust yourself or your brand. It is best that your profile photo is a clear shot of your face. If you have a professional headshot, use it. If you don’t, here are some tips to taking a great headshot with your camera phone.
- Use a timer (and something on which to prop your camera/phone) or a buddy. Do not let your headshot look like just-another-selfie. If I can see your arm holding your phone, this may be a sign of poor judgment, and I don’t think I trust you with my money. That’s a bit harsh, but it drives home the point that the little things matter.
- If the following functions are options on your camera/phone, use them. HDR: This function is one that layers several exposures to balance shadows and highlights. White Balance: Think of this as a brightness gauge. Say you’re wearing a black outfit on a white background. By tapping the white background, you may be turned into a shadow, as the tap-on-white tells your camera, “This is the standard for brightness here.” By tapping a black article of clothing, you may find that everything else in the shot is washed out. Find some middle ground (your face, for example, which leads us to…). Auto-focus: Most of our cameras have the capability to focus on certain focal points in photos. You should be able to tap on your face in order to have the camera adjust its focus on your warm smile. And, yes, you should smile. Digitial Zoom: Actually, never, ever, ever use this. Digital zoom (unlike the optical zoom professional photographers use to create impressive images from far away) compromises the integrity of your photos incredibly. All it does is essentially lower the resolution of your image, making it grainier and sloppy. Take photos from a few feet away (leaving about a foot of space above your head and below your breastbone. Cropping can be done on the back end, if necessary.
- Make sure lighting is even (without unsightly shadows). Natural light is best, but in moderation. If you’re indoors, stand near a window for a tasteful amount of light. If you’re outside, it’s best to shoot around dusk or on an overcast day.
- Lastly, angle yourself away from the camera (slightly), tilt your chin up (slightly), and push your shoulders back (slightly). Otherwise, keep a relaxed stance and a friendly smile. Voila!
As for the content you post, keep it positive. Avoid making your profile a RantBook. Consider airing your grievances on Twitter or creating an alternate account for your more unsavory posts. Without going into the personal benefits of posting uplifting content, keeping morale high on your page will attract potential customers. And to revisit the notion that people love what others are passionate about– people want what happy people have. Last we checked, Debbie Downer wasn’t generating a whole lot of interest in anything… from anyone.
4. Use Facebook Live and post videos to your timeline.
Facebook Live is a relatively new feature that brings so much value added to branding. It’s brilliant. Imagine you’re scrolling through your timeline, and you see a block of text on the topic of nail wraps or skincare products. Do you read it all? Do you read more than the first line?
Now say one of your friends goes live. Chances are you receive a notification. Once in awhile, you probably watch all or part of the video. The fact that your friends receive notifications of these posts is money (figurative money, potential money, a long-term investment, however you want to think of it) in and of itself. In addition, video allows you to display your character to your audience. This is such a huge point of contention when it comes to text: It’s so difficult to avoid sounding cold and mechanical unless you over-pepper your posts with exclamation points. Stop trying, and get in front of the camera.
There is such a wide array of ways you can use Live to garner interest in your business. Instead of posting FAQ’s, get on camera and address questions you receive (or questions you think your followers may have). The live aspect of Live allows your audience to ask questions in real-time, too, which allows you to further connect with your potential customers. The interactive elements to any business are invaluable, especially when that interaction comes with a personal touch.
Other ways to utilize Live include discussing changes to the business, success stories (see #2 of this list), raffles and incentives, new products, events or upcoming travel. Anything that a business would use as a talking point for marketing outreach is on the table for a Facebook Live post, so get creative
5. Connect, connect, connect!
We often associate LinkedIn with business networking. While it is a good idea to connect on LinkedIn once you’ve done business with someone (or at least breached the topic in conversation), Facebook provides a lot more personality and different ways to discover business opportunities. Because of the professional nature of LinkedIn, we tend to get a sterile feel from the platform. Facebook allots us the opportunity to showcase our true personalities.
If we think of LinkedIn as the consummate professional, then Facebook is your fun friend who loves to wear her hair down and who wears her heart on her sleeve. Furthermore, sending a LinkedIn invite to someone you’ve just met will likely send the message that you want to conduct business before getting to know the person. Let’s not put the cart before the horse.
First, don’t be shy. Connect with any- and everyone whose name you catch, if you’ve established a good rapport. Once you’ve met someone, particularly in a colloquial setting, send a Facebook friend request within the following forty-eight hours. If you had a pleasant conversation with this person (or people), you can always follow up the request with a quick note referencing the common ground you found. Opening with, “So glad we got a chance to sing karaoke together at Brad’s party last night! I told you I’d send along the dates Third Eye Blind is in town once I got a chance to look at my tickets. I hope I run into you at the show!” is pretty warm and inviting, right?
Avoid diving into your business pitch. Bursting through the gates with, “It was nice meeting you– so I have these products I think you’d love” is a pretty strong invitation to unfriend you.
6. Avoid being pushy.
At this point, let’s assume you’ve successfully entered the friend zone. Here is a list of what not to do when introducing your friends to your business:
- Don’t be pitchy. To reiterate the point from #5, nobody likes feeling like your friendship is hinged on their wallet. There are more creative ways of bringing customers to your business. If the topic of your product or service comes up in natural conversation (or certainly if a friend asks about it), go ahead– talk it up and ask if they’re interested in checking out what you have to offer. Do keep in mind, though, that these are your friends. Keep it natural. If you sound like a late-night infomercial, things are bound to get really awkward really fast.
- Do NOT force-add your friends to groups or events. Most of us have probably been added to groups or events by someone pushing a product. If this has never happened to you, rejoice because it’s incredibly annoying. I once had a friend (with whom I hadn’t spoken in months) add me to her Jamberry group without an invitation, much less my permission. Irked, I promptly left the group, but it sparked my interest in the product. I proceeded to make a Jamberry purchase from the website. When I was prompted to enter the name of my consultant, I listed another friend who I knew sold the nail wraps, but who does all of the right things on this list. It goes without saying, I continued my business with the friend who did it right.
- Don’t assume someone has the money or the need for your product. Many of the products and services that are being marketed on Facebook serve as solutions to specific problems. These problems include weight gain (solution: It Works wraps), acne and wrinkles (solution: Rodan + Fields products), poor fashion sense (solution: Trunk Club). With that in mind, imagine someone came to you with a solution to a problem you’ve never expressed… perhaps a problem you’ve never viewed as a problem? This approach is way too intrusive. If you are going to be the first to mention your solution-based business, tread lightly around the egos of your friends. You wouldn’t want to send an insensitive message… and, again, an invitation to unfriend you.
The key here is attraction. If you focus on making a presence on Facebook and building an attractive and interesting brand, people will gravitate toward you. Make sure it’s known among your friends what you do with your business, but avoid singling people out. This is considered uncouth in today’s marketing ecosystem, as well as in social media’s common sense standards for behavior among friends.
Keeping engaged with your network in a way that doesn’t directly affect your business will help you maintain integrity and to ward off that “sleazy car salesman” feel. This vibe is one that too many business owners incite when they seem to show interest solely in endeavors that directly benefit their sales. Get a leg up by bypassing this money-hungry behavior. It may seem counter-intuitive, but this form of modesty can actually help you to stand out in today’s “Buy this, this, and that!” culture.
7. Create a page for your business.
This may seem obvious, but you should always have a separate business page to represent what you’re selling. This page should be more professional and cleaner than your personal page. Make sure the profile is completed, with all sections filled, especially the “About” portion. You’ll want to include basic information, pertinent links, awards, and anything else you would want a consumer to see upon “entering”. (Milestones are fun to add to the profile and show your visitors the strides the company has made since inception. This builds credibility and intrigue… if the “milestones” you list are truly milestones.)
Visit a well established company’s Facebook page, and you’re likely to see a call-to-action button over the page’s cover photo. This button is key. This can prompt visitors to book a service or sign up on your business’s page. There is also an option to create a welcome screen that is displayed for visitors who haven’t yet liked your page. It is worth it to look into hiring someone to design this tab for you. Professionalism is key, and, hey! If you’re not a graphic designer, perhaps you can support a graphic designer friend’s’ business. You never know– the favor could be returned.
Along the same vein as force-adding friends to groups and events is the mass invite-to-like your business page. If you’ve mentioned your business and your business page to a friend, go ahead and send an invite, but the mass invites to friends who haven’t shown interest is just… well, tacky. Furthermore, some friends will click ‘like’ to be polite, but rarely does that go hand-in-hand with actual genuine interest in the business. So! Just as you should establish yourself as an expert for hire and attract attention, your business page should do the same. Establish the page and make it known that it exists, then find ways to generate traffic to it.
One way to make it known to your friends is by posting about the business page from your personal page. There is no shame in a little plug– letting your friends know what’s there and inviting them to check it out. This is far less intrusive than invites and is more likely to bring you qualified potential customers. Also, think about ways you can sweeten the deal for those who choose to like your business page. As the saying goes, you attract more flies with honey. Many businesses offer discounts to customers once they’ve liked the business’s Facebook page. There’s something in it for everyone! More on incentives soon, but the key here, again, is attraction over coercion.
If you can work it into your budget, Facebook advertising can create a huge boost in your book of business. According to Facebook.com, 20% of mobile-device shopping in the US is done via Facebook or Instagram. [If you didn’t already know, Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012, at a smooth $1B.] Facebook prides itself on its ability to target the proper audiences based on factors like “demographics, interests, and behaviors”.
There are three audience profiles to choose from. “Core Audiences” allows you to select characteristics of your targeted audience. Characteristics include information like age and location. “Custom Audiences” allows you to import your contacts list. “Lookalike Audiences” uses information about your current customers to target Facebook users like them. Targeting demographics is key in marketing efficiency and promises more bang for your buck than throwing ads into a general audience. They even provide a “Split Testing” option which allows you to test your ads with two different audience types in order to see where your ad fares better.
Arguably the most brilliant facet of Facebook audience-targeting is the fact that the site advertises to users who have already visited your site. What does this mean for your business? Possible conversion of leads who have already shown interest in your business. Moreover, it does a lot of the legwork in provoking repeat business.
In addition, Facebook provides tools that give you more insight to your ads’ performance– insights you can actually build upon. “Audience Insights” tells you more about your targeted audience so that you can generate content catered to their liking. These “insights” are super-comprehensive and tell you about audience members’ ages, genders, income and education levels, job titles, relationship statuses, family sizes, and more. Whew! If that’s still not enough in the way of support, Facebook provides sophisticated ads reporting tools to analyze and optimize the performance of your ads.
Lastly, Facebook ads are probably the most cost-effective way to reach wide audiences. Many business owners pay about $5 daily to reach hundreds of Facebook users daily. One study found that the cost of reaching 1,000 people via Facebook advertising is $0.25 on average, compared to $32.00 for newspaper advertising (with various forms of media falling in between on the Facebook-to-newpaper spectrum). This sounds like the kind of cash most business owners should be able to fork up as an investment, doesn’t it?
9. Provide incentive.
I’d like to touch on a few different ways to provide incentive to your customers (existing and potential) to buy without being pushy. There are ways of doing this through passive product exposure, promotion, offers, referral programs, as well as acts of gratitude. Surely there are many others, but these are a great way to get customers excited about your business versus experiencing a sense of obligation.
- Passive exposure. Most businesses have a marketing budget to include samples and gifts. Be thoughtful when it comes to deciding where these marketing dollars end up, but be generous! Give samples and gifts to people in your network who are qualified potential customers, but do so with a no-strings-attached attitude. Let’s revisit Jamberry as an example: Say you’re putting together holiday gifts and decide to use your consultant discount to purchase nail wraps for personal use. Include your current favorites with the gift bags destined to people who are likely to buy. Let them know these are your favorites! (Again, let your passion show.) But leave out the sales pitch. Trust that if they want to buy, they will come to you with expressed interest, especially if you’ve laid the groundwork and established that you sell the product.
- Promotion. By promotion, I’m specifically referring to events like raffles and giveaways. Here is an opportunity to use Facebook Live to engage your audience. People like free stuff! If they like it enough, they’ll likely pay for more. Be willing to give before you expect to get. Have fun with it, and build your book of interested parties by chatting with those who choose to participate or inquire.
- Offers. We’ve already discussed offering discounts to people who have liked your business page. There are countless ways of changing your offer so that it provides added value to both parties, the business and the consumer. Many businesses offer a discount, or extra products and services, if a purchase is made by a certain date. Can you provide a promotional code for first-time buyers? Free shipping for spending a certain amount is an obvious option, so don’t miss out on old-news practices if you can avoid it.
- Referral programs. We can’t put a pricetag on the value of word-of-mouth advertising. Happy customers will, hands-down, be your best form of marketing. The best part? It’s free… kind of. Given the value of this form of marketing plus the value of keeping your current customers happy, you should consider making room in your budget to provide incentives to those who bring in new business. Providing Credits toward future purchases is probably your best bet for these customers, but feel free to explore other avenues. New product samples could be great for these clients, as they’re likely to talk about it. Referring customers are your best customers. Treat them well.
- Thank yous. On the note of rewarding the clients who grow your book of business, provide gifts and samples to anyone who has positively impacted your business or who has the potential to do so. Thank first-time buyers, referring customers, clients who’ve made a large purchase, or people in your network who have done you a favor recently or provided an exceptional service. Gratitude is the mark of a happy person. The perks of expressing your gratitude will also have a positive effect on your wellbeing. How about that? Bonus: Don’t underestimate the power of a handwritten note. These are few and far between in today’s society and often make recipients feel particularly special.
10. Stay in touch (and ask for criticism).
Have your stationery handy now? Great. But in between thank you notes, consider other ways to stay engaged with your network. We talked about breaking the ice on Facebook Messenger. You’ll want to keep the ball rolling with the one-on-one virtual contact. When it comes to new contacts or existing friends, stay engaged. Whenever they post something interesting, funny, or thought-provoking, like and comment! There are probably times that they post about something you can relate to. Share your experience. Just keep it positive. This will keep you top of mind. The more they see you (and keep you in a positive light), the more attention they are likely to pay to you, what you like, and what you’re up to. You will garner attention to your business without giving off the aforementioned infomercial/sleazy car salesman vibe.
For Facebook friends who have conducted business, continue to check in with them. If they’ve just received an order, shoot them a message with any useful information they could use, or just thank them for their business.
Welcome feedback, especially criticism. Asking every customer, “What can I do to make this experience an even better one for you?” has the potential to elevate your business exponentially. Take criticism gracefully. Has this customer expressed negative feelings around the business experience? Promise to do what you can to rectify this, and follow through. Are they simply providing recommendations on ways to improve the business? Fantastic! Take note of these suggestions and thank them for helping you to improve. If someone leaves a negative review publicly on your business page, address their concerns in the same way, by fixing the problem in any way you can. If their comment is public, make sure your response is, too. It goes without saying, keep it cordial. Passive aggression helps no one in this situation.
11. Join groups that support budding business owners.
Business, by nature, is ever-changing, but in today’s social media age, ideas for optimizing your business are boundless. Companies pour a lot of their dollars into continuing education for their employees. The point is to have an edge on the competition, work efficiently and effectively, and ultimately to keep customers and employees happy. With the internet constantly abuzz and conveniently located on our computers and mobile devices, we have countless free resources at our fingertips.
And even though many of our business are people-centric, we’re engulfed in an aconomy full of self-starting entrepreneurs and stay-at-home workers. The truth is that for many, the business world can be a lonely place. A sense of community is imperative for human beings, as we are social creatures. Particularly for extroverts, periods of loneliness can quickly turn to spirals of negative self talk and low morale. Thankfully, community is what Facebook is all about. More specifically, this is what Facebook groups are all about. Business-focused support groups are ubiquitous on Facebook. Concentrations include branding, social media outreach, home-based business tips, startups worth getting involved in, creativity, inspiration, empowerment, and too much more to list.
Run a quick Google search on the best Facebook groups that focuses on the area of your choosing. In order to get the gears turning, here are a few examples of groups to join: Social Media Today (@socmediatoday), Mashable (@mashable), SCORE Mentors (@SCOREmentors), BrandMakerNews (@BrandMakerNews). Finding your social niche among other business-minded individuals is a surefire way to keep up momentum and spark your own creativity. You’re bound to find yourself contributing more and more to the idea pot as your business and morale elevate. So go forth and socialize!
12. Post! (Duh).
At this point, we’ve talked about the importance of remaining relevant, established, interesting, but most importantly, present. Within your network of Facebook friends, you are the expert in your field of business. Of course it is important to post information specifically pertaining to your business, but you’ll need to broaden the scope. Since you’re already conducting research on your field (if you’re not, you have a lot more homework to do before trying to build a business), share your findings in a post!
Subscribe to publications that pertain to your field. Is your business in the field of Health & Wellness? Subscribe to Women’s Health or Muscle & Fitness, and share your favorite articles. How about Style & Beauty? Try GQ, Glamour, or Vogue. Yes, you are the expert, but part of validating your expertise is reiteration of your message by reputable sources. Plus, online posts by these sources usually come with catchy headlines, attractive design, and captivating photography.
What’s even more effective than pretty words and photos? Video! If you come across a video that shares helpful information, post that! Videos have a much higher click rate than standard articles. Still, make sure the source is reputable and the video is of professional calibre. Bonus points go to videos that are funny, heartwarming, or otherwise emotion-inducing. Most big publications have videos posted to Youtube and Facebook. Employees in the offices of these publications are paid good money to engage readers and viewers. Spread the word and, in turn, engage your network of Facebook friends!
There are a few of tips to keep in mind: Always share your business page’s post on your personal page. This not only puts your business post in front of more eyes, but it serves as a reminder to your network that you have a business page! If the posts are captivating enough, your business page will gain followers by way of the shares on your personal Facebook page. Two birds, one stone!
Consider the right time of day to post. The analytics tools within the Facebook advertising packages will help you out by determining the most effective times to post for your targeted demographic. Analytics tools aside, you may want to decide whether you’d like to post at peak or non-peak hours. The benefit of post during Facebook rush hour (12pm, 3pm, and 7pm) is that more of your network is likely to be present and connected. Conversely, posting during non-peak hours reduces the chances that your posts will be edged out by the flow of rush-hour posts. So choose wisely. Or simply tinker with this a bit and see which posts gain more likes, comments, and shares.
Also, make sure business-related posts are shared publicly. This will ensure that your post can be passed along and visible to people outside of your direct network. This will also ensure that if someone stumbles on your page, they will see be able to view the posts pertaining to your business and your field. It’s time to start profiting off of those cyberstalkers, am I right?
13. Be you!
No, this isn’t the same inspirational mumbo-jumbo about living authentically. Not exactly, anyway. Aside from the mental and emotional benefits of staying tru to oneself, there are practical benefits to remaining genuinely you in business. “Being you” here refers to staying true to your interests, your voice, and your sense of humor. Your energy, your personality, and your style of writing– all of this feeds into your online persona. The more authentically human you are, the warmer and more inviting your business becomes. Especially in sales-based positions, it is often said that the customer is not buying the product, but buying you. Yes, it is important to recognize the merit in professionalism, but professionalism is not synonymous with roboticism.
Allow yourself to crack jokes, use your favorite colloquialisms, and share your personal anecdotes! Funny meme that is mildly related to your business, but managed to crack you up? Hit the share button! You are the face of your business. The more you behave like your true self, the more you will attract consumers who are like you. And if you’re selling something you love, something you believe in, and something that you’ve proved works… don’t you want to do business with more people like yourself?