With over a billion users, Facebook is a great place to start marketing your business via social media. Instagram and Twitter are viable alternatives—and ultimately, you will want to use all three—but Facebook’s near total market penetration and easy-to-use tools make it the best first option.
Business owners will sometimes question the use of social media because their business already has a web site. While both are on the internet, the similarity stops there. Noted communication and technology writer Shel Holtz says a web site is the reference web, whereas social media is the collaborative web.
Web sites typically only communicate in one direction, from business to consumer (or to other businesses). The information is primarily static—lists of products, people, photos, policies, press releases, hours, etc. Social media, on the other hand, allows for two-way communication. Potential customers can talk back, ask questions, and engage in conversations. Content is dynamic and constantly changing.
One of the more common mistakes that occur is to start a personal page on Facebook for business purposes. Facebook offers many options for individual, group, and business pages, etc.
On business pages, things operate differently. The public likes the page to start following it (no approval necessary). Posts automatically have their privacy set to public to reach the widest audience. And, unlike personal pages, there is no limit on the number of friends a business page can have.
If you goofed and started a page for business as a personal page, simply refer to Facebook’s help pages for instructions on how to convert it.
Start here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/creation/
Once the page is created, it’s important to dig into the settings to name it. In this day and age, it’s surprising to run across pages whose link is a string of numbers, but it does still happen. Facebook may restrict naming the page until it has 25 followers. Don’t be shy—invite your family and friends to follow the page to get things rolling.
For non-marketers, Facebook’s system of sizes for photos can seem Byzantine. The profile picture (usually a logo), cover photo, posts (which some people call ads), and events are all different. If you put a photo into a spot without optimizing it for the size of that location, it will end up cropped. Don’t get frustrated—search online for a web-based photo editor.
Precision matters. Search online for Facebook photo size guides, cheat sheets, or templates. They are all available, usually for free. It’s helpful to add the current year to your search terms to avoid outdated info.
Facebook is a casual medium. Use conversational style. Most people prefer to be informed rather than sold. Let them know about your products and services, their uses and benefits, without sounding like a flyer one might find in the Sunday paper (or worse, a late-night infomercial).
Keep your posts short, about 4-6 lines. The majority of users only scan, not read. Get to the point fast. And by all means, NEVER USE ALL CAPS (online, that’s considered SHOUTING).
Post often. Facebook is a medium that needs to be constantly fed. Post daily, or at minimum, about two to three times per week. Unlike advertising, social posts don’t reappear. Find creative and inventive ways to talk about business in small chunks.
Include a photo as often as possible, formatted into a square beforehand (again, so it doesn’t get automatically cropped). LGBT+ audiences tend to be visual, so take (or have someone take) the best possible photos of your product. Don’t be afraid to photo edit to make them more sales worthy.
Avoid using the words “I” or “we.” It’s not about you—social media is about the reader. Rewrite your sentences to use the word “you” as much as possible (it takes discipline). Example: instead of “we are offering a special this week,” write “you can save 20% all week on <product or service>.”
Another marketing basic: include a call to action. Ask the reader to do something, such as “Join us for this sale,” or “Come see the latest fashions.” “Call us today for an appointment,” is another example.
If your posts are appealing, expect to generate some discussion. Before responding, put on your customer service hat (think concierge in a fine hotel). Answer as courteously as possible (even if you think the question is stupid). Thank the reader for their interest. Be extremely tactful. Remember, other potential customers are reading your responses and making purchase decisions. Don’t turn them off with an unprofessional attitude. Respond to every question because a lack of follow-up reinforces the belief that you don’t care.
If you follow these basic guidelines, people will follow the page. Be patient, it takes time. Stay consistent, considerate, and communicate professionally to build a following on Facebook.