How to use Facebook to drive customers to your business
How your business can make its mark on the online behemoth
By far the most widely used social networking site, Facebook offers direct access to more than 900 million users. Although it’s seen by many as more of a social site, it does in fact present a huge range of opportunities for businesses in the online community. Facebook is a platform where companies can interact with current and potential customers, and where they can promote their products and services.
Facebook has taken steps to actively encourage businesses to use their service, by offering initiatives such as Facebook adverts and fan pages. Businesses can set up a company profile or groups and message boards where customers can converge to discuss with one another the service they have received. Like other social media sites, the key here is openness and businesses must be willing to give up a certain degree of control to customers.
Keeping content interesting and relevant is crucial to any social media page, and Facebook is no exception. To attract and retain followers or fans, you need to offer exciting content that stands out from the crowd. Consider different forms of content, such as video, audio, pictures or blogs that would most appeal to your target audience. Facebook can also be used as a market research tool, through which companies can poll their fans and measure their reaction to new ideas before applying them to the business.
Once your page or group is set up, think about who you want to attract. Start off small by inviting friends and current customers, who will then invite their friends and so on. Social media is an extremely viral form of communication, so don’t expect to have thousands of fans overnight. Discounts and other offers exclusive to Facebook fans or group members can be a great way to generate more followers.
Top tips for businesses using Facebook:
- Post regular business updates on your wall – it is important to keep content fresh and interesting. But try not to add too many updates because content overload will overwhelm your fans and swamp their news feed pages.
- Make use of video or images – keep your page visual as this helps to engage your audience.
- Offer discounts and run promotions and competitions – this is great way to increase your following, by providing offers exclusive to Facebook fans.
- Carry out market research – Facebook offers a free platform for market research. Poll your fans to find out what they think of your business ideas.
- Respond to comments – make sure you reply to questions or comments posted by fans and start developing a dialogue with them. Similarly, reply to criticism, don’t ignore it.
- Start discussion groups – encourage conversation about your business. This is an effective way to boost brand awareness, and you can educate fans about your product or service.
- Use Facebook ads to increase your fans base – although it’s no substitute for proper engagement, it can help boost fan numbers.
- Share blog posts – if you have a company blog make sure you share the latest posts on your Facebook fan page.
- Avoid over commercialisation – when sharing interesting product news or offers, try not to be too profit-focused. Social media sites are not merely another sales platform and being overly commercial is a guaranteed way to deter fans.
Examples of companies successfully using Facebook:
- Just-Eat http://www.just-eat.co.uk/ Online takeaway food service with over 43,000 fans on Facebook. They post videos and competition announcements on their page, and make good use of the discussion board, to encourage conversation about their brand. There is even a poll to enhance interactivity.
- Spoonfed http://www.spoonfed.co.uk/ This online guide to London events encourages Facebook fans to sign up to their newsletter through their page. Regular competitions and a lively wall add to their buzzing Facebook presence.
- Taste London http://www.tastelondon.co.uk/ A ‘pay-to-save’ service that provides customers with a discount card for restaurants in return for an annual fee. Their Facebook site encourages fans to review restaurants and make recommendations. They are quick at responding to wall comments, which helps build trust between them and their customers.