Old school word-of-mouth marketing occurred when happy customers referred others to a business over coffee or a beer. Today, consumers praise and pan businesses in front of thousands of people (albeit digitally) via social media, most notably the almighty Facebook.
If you're a small business owner, and you still think of Facebook as a way for teenagers to update friends on prom dresses and video games, you're missing out on a lucrative marketing channel. Armed with a few handy tips and techniques, you can (and should) use Facebook to create loyal customers, attract new ones, drive sales and grow your business.
Facebook: Freebies, Contests and Updates
Congratulations, you are now the proud owner of a Facebook page for your small business. So what's next? Every business from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Zanesville, Ohio has a Facebook page, but having a page doesn't automatically mean success. You need to use it, and use it right. These three ideas can help you get you started:
1. Offer a discount or freebie
According to research from marketing firm ExactTarget, 40 percent of Facebook users become fans of a page to take advantage of a discount or promotion. If you have a page with a decent following already, offer 25 percent off (or a different number that makes sense) on a new or popular product or service. This gets people in the door. From there, you can place other items within view, ideally those with higher margins…
2. Host a contest
Asking users to submit videos or photos for a contest is a great way to acquire new fans and encourage engagement. If you own a furniture company, ask fans to submit photos of their most pathetic couch or chair, with the winner receiving a gift card toward a replacement. If you run a pest control business, ask followers to submit photos of terrible infestations… But if you choose to run a contest, be sure to review Facebook rules and host your promotion through a third-party app.
3. Use targeted status updates
One of the latest developments on Facebook allows you to select which of your fans see your status updates. Take advantage of this feature to send out targeted messages to fans based upon their age, location and interests, among other things. For businesses with a diverse customer base, targeted updates can help increase conversion rates.
Leveraging social media, including Facebook, can be challenging. It's not a Field of Dreams scenario (if you build it, they will come…). As with any marketing channel, you need to be smart, creative and have the right people in place. Whatever you do, don't call on Lance, your 18-year-old express lane checker, to run your grocery store's Facebook campaigns (unless he's actually qualified).
Maryalene LaPonsie has been writing professionally for more than a decade on topics including education, insurance and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Western Michigan University.
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