Does your business need a Facebook page?

Creating a Facebook Page is a quick and easy way to promote your business, but Startups looks at whether it’s worth the effort and cost for a small business

Are you thinking of setting up a Facebook Page, but you’re not sure where to start? Here, Startups.co.uk lets you know what they are, why create one, and the pros and cons to think about before diving in.

What is a Facebook Page?

A Facebook ‘Page’ is essentially a business version of your personal Facebook ‘Profile’. It’s a way for you to be able to promote your business to a community of fans as well as the wider audience (at last count 35 million people in the UK access Facebook every month) with a consumer facing presence.

A Page can be seen as a mini-website within Facebook, and indeed lots of start-up businesses will create their Page before setting up an official website because it’s free and quick to reach the right people.

From the features side of things, a Page gives you space to display a company logo, a brand message through a cover photo, description, contact details and disclaimers. From the marketing side, it allows you to speak to your audience in a uniquely personal way, reach them directly by posting into their social stream, share things that interest them – be it news stories or videos, or more overtly with products or offers.

How do I use a Facebook Page?

Depending on your start-up’s business proposition, you can use your Page in a number of ways. Corporate brands use Facebook to show a bit of personality to their customers, and media companies use their Page to share news stories to a targeted audience.

When you set up your Page you’ll be asked to choose which type of business you have:

  • Local business or place
  • Company, organisation or institution
  • Brand or product
  • Artist, band or public figure
  • Entertainment
  • Cause or community

If you own a café, for example, you can use your Page as a Local Business, which allows you to display opening times and an address with in-built map for mobile users, and gives you the ability to share your daily lunch deals – or indeed anything relevant to your shop’s activities – to your community of fans. With a local business the customer service starts on Facebook, users can post messages directly to your Page to ask about services, review your offerings, or (hopefully not!) complain. So you need to monitor your page regularly, and respond to users as soon as possible.

So you can use a Page to keep people up-to-date with what you’re doing, promote products or services, and answer customer questions.

Don’t forget to invite your existing contacts from your personal Facebook or send an email to your contact list to alert people to your new Page, and hopefully build up a fanbase straight away.

How does creating a Facebook Page work for small businesses?

Having a presence on Facebook is valuable for many reasons, including brand exposure, customer relations, driving website traffic and promoting online offers. As part of a general online strategy Facebook helps SEO, as a properly optimised Page will show up in search results along with your website, solidifying your brand as a trusted one.

As with a Facebook profile, you can post videos, pictures, status updates and links to blogs and other content. Engaging and shareable posts have the potential to reach people outside of your ‘likes’ list, by users sharing and engaging with the posts – therefore triggering a recommendation in their friend’s timeline.

What are the advantages?

Having an active Facebook Page means you have the potential to reach your audience almost anywhere, at any time (this is especially true with the rise and rise of mobile use) for free. You can engage your fans in fun, non-corporate discussions that are invaluable for brand building, and really help you to understand your audience.

What are the disadvantages?

Facebook may be free to use, but it’ll cost you to make the most of your Page. Your content won’t reach as many people as you think it will, thanks to algorithm updates in recent years that have made the platform “pay to play”.

So, to really get to your fans, and beyond, you need to cough up the cash and pay to ‘boost’ posts. You can get an idea of how much it will cost to sponsor your content here: http://www.shiftcomm.com/facebook-page-cost-calculator/

How much resource should you allocate?

If you choose not to invest any budget into boosting posts or using Facebook ads, you may well think that Facebook will be completely cost-free to you, but that’s not the end of the story. As Adam Lewis, managing director at social media marketing agency Immediate Future stresses, a Facebook Page is not just for Christmas.

“Once you’ve started you have to continue posting on a regular basis – you can’t really stop,” says Lewis. “So you have to bear in mind that you will need to create content. So in that respect you shouldn’t think of Facebook as a free platform. It does require resources.”

Good photos and engaging videos do particularly well on Facebook – and producing these has a cost attached, let alone the cost of your team members’ time managing the Page.

The frequency of posts to your Page may help you to determine how much work will be required. Multiple studies have been conducted to see how many posts a day is the ideal amount, a Socialbakers’ report found that five to 10 posts per week works best for businesses.

It’s also really important to post when your audience is online – if you’re a B2B company targeting London office workers, then it’s safe to say that the best time to post would be before 9am, at lunchtime, and after 5pm. But to make sure, monitor your Facebook Insights to see what times and days your fans are on Facebook.

How do you measure return on your time investment and success?

Using your Facebook Insights, you can see how many people commented on, liked, shared, and clicked on your post (all labelled under ‘engagement’), as well as how many actually saw it! You can use this information to assess what content and post-type is most popular with your customers. This will demonstrate the success of your online activities.

But if you’re looking for a firmer ROI, you can track this by monitoring the take-up of offers and calls to action. Whether this is by measuring clicks on your link to download a free coffee voucher, or by sign ups to your newsletter using Facebook’s ‘Call-to-Action Button’.

Do you need to hire an agency specialising in Facebook marketing?

Not many agencies specialise purely in Facebook, and any social media manager worth their salt will tell you that Facebook should be used in conjunction with other social networks, like Google+. Working across multiple networks and creating meaningful interactions with your customers can be a time-intensive task. With that in mind Chris Broadbent, CEO at full service digital agency The Internet Works, says:

“There’s no quick fix approach to building relationships with your customer community and putting an effective social media strategy in place takes time. An agency can help manage your online profiles, engage with your customers, and advise on strategies to maximize the return on your social media investment.”

Holly Hathaway is the social media expert at The Internet Works, a boutique digital agency in London. For more information contact the TIW team.

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