How can I use Facebook to boost my business?

How to get the most out of your company's Facebook fan page

I’ve created a Facebook fan page for my boutique handbag e-tailer but so far haven’t had much success getting people other than my friends to take notice. What can I do drive more people to the page and how can I measure whether or not it’s actually helping sales?

Gail Power writes:

It’s great that you have taken the first step in finding and engaging your customers on Facebook. But, just like any other marketing activity, a Facebook Page requires a strategy and someone to commit time to executing, maintaining and revaluating that strategy. It’s no good just creating a Page, inviting a few friends and hoping you’ll attract a fan base overnight without offering anything in return. Facebook is about connecting and sharing, so if you want your Page to be a success, you have to make an effort to engage.

Here are some handy hints to you get started.

1. Set your objectives Think about what you want from your Page. It can be used to achieve a number of marketing goals – from raising awareness of your website to actually driving handbag sales, or even soliciting feedback from your customers to help improve your business. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve will help guide all your Facebook activities.

2. Provide fresh and interesting contentStart by adding lots of information about your business – pictures, client testimonials, awards, a video greeting, products you carry, etc. This will demonstrate your personality and credibility as a business.

3. Continue to update your page Don’t take the “set it and forget it” approach. People won’t be interested in your Page unless you offer relevant and interesting information. Updates help engage your fans as they appear in their newsfeed for them to see next time they are on Facebook. Use your updates to ask a question, promote a special offer, run a competition or simply provide information on your latest range. Just be sure to consider the context and frequency of your updates so you don’t overload your fans with irrelevant or uninteresting updates.

4. Allow people to leave comments and respond Be sure to open up your Page to encourage engagement. The default option will only show posts by you on your Page’s wall. You can change that default setting to allow others to comment by selecting “page and fans”.

Facebook is very public so you should respond to relevant comments immediately – even if they are difficult or negative – because it shows you are open, honest and care about your customers.   It is also a way to encourage others to join in the discussion. And while we are on the topic of openness, do not delete negative comments as it sends a bad message to the community. You can’t please everyone, but your loyal fans will step in to assist you – to help troubleshoot a problem, provide information, etc.

Engagement is very important in helping you leverage the viral nature of Facebook. When a fan does something on your Page, their friends know about it on their walls.  So the more interaction you can stimulate, the more friends see it, the more likely those friends will join the discussion, and the more it spreads. Seeing a friend “Like” a handbag is effectively a recommendation, and as Facebook friends are genuinely connected in real life, there is a good chance they may be interested in the same things, increasing the sales opportunity.

5. Promote your Facebook Page Make your Page the central hub for all your marketing associated collateral – brochures, website, business cards etc. Your Facebook Pages can be powerful weapons in your overall marketing arsenal when you use it in combination with other marketing tools.

Many small businesses are also experiencing the huge benefits of advertising on Facebook. Provided you have an interesting offer, such as a discount on a new handbag, you can easily create a Facebook ad to send traffic to your page.

Facebook ads are one of the best and most cost-effective ways to increase brand awareness, build your fan base and drive traffic to your website to boost sales. There are more than 400 million users on Facebook today, ranging across different demographics, so you can bet that you have an audience there. The best thing about using Facebook ads is that you can actually pinpoint specific customers who have expressed an interest in handbags, fashion, or any other related areas. In other words, you are prompting their interest rather than waiting for them to find you. All you need to create an ad is a picture, some text, and a landing web page to send them to, such as your Facebook Page.

Facebook is also highly measurable. Facebook “Insights” tool for Pages let you know how many people are engaging with your Page and gives a breakdown of gender, age groups and interests they have (but never individual user data). You can look at these figures in conjunction with your Google Analytics to see how much business your page is driving for you. Or if you want to see more exact ROI, you can promote a special offer exclusively on your Page to see exactly how many sales it generates.

Gail Power is Director of Sales Operations for Facebook

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