Facebook marketing tips for small businesses

The right social media strategy is a great way for small businesses to boost their marketing, as it is free and easy to get started.

However, getting it right is a different story, and when it comes to understanding the nuances of each platform, it can sometimes be difficult to know where to begin.

We’ve already covered Instagram and Twitter for the small business owner, and now we’re tackling the largest social network around: Facebook.

If you have a Facebook page but you don’t know what to post or you’ve been meaning to get your business on Facebook but aren’t sure where to start, this article can help you get going!

3 things to know about Facebook before you get started

Facebook remains the most popular social media platform there is, and everyone from small businesses to large corporations knows the importance of having a presence on it.

The content you will see on a Facebook timeline is more diverse than on Instagram and Twitter, with a mixture of visual content such as videos and images along with text-based content and links.

Despite most businesses knowing they ought to have a presence of Facebook, many small businesses struggle with the best way to get started, grow their audience and build engagement.

Before we reveal our top tips to help you get more from Facebook, here are three things you should know:

  1. As mentioned, Facebook is the largest social media platform around, with users from all over the world. It was the first to introduce paid ads as well as the newsfeed, features that have gone on to define all the other social media platforms that are popular today.
  2. Over the years, changes in Facebook algorithms have meant that it’s no longer a case of pushing out content and knowing that it will find its way in front of your users. On average, only 1 in 50 of your existing followers will actually see your post.
  3. Just because you have a personal Facebook account and are able to easily navigate around the site, you shouldn’t assume you know how to use it for your business. Taking the time to do some research and preparation can go a long way towards making sure your business account will be successful.

Now that you know a bit more about the platform itself, you’re ready to get started developing your own brand’s media presence.

Set up a business page

A crucial first step is your business page set up. We don’t just mean in terms of getting it set up, but in taking the time to set it up really well, populated with interesting information about your company, eye-catching and on-brand images, and clear information about your services and the benefit you offer to your customers.

Facebook will prompt you through a lot of the set up, but you should pay particular attention to:

  • The category you list your business under
  • The CTA at the bottom right of your banner image
  • The tabs down the left of your page
  • The URL of your page

Only once you are happy with the look and feel of your page can you turn to the next stage of your Facebook strategy: building your audience and pushing content.

Tip: Depending on the nature of your business, it may also be worth setting up a group where you can build a community. Unlike a business page, a group is not affiliated to a particular business but more to a topic, interest or idea. It will be easier for members of a group to interact with each other as well as you.

An example of where a group may work well would be for a business that sells crafting supplies, setting up a group for knitters, painters or other hobbyists who might buy their products.

Get your head around the algorithm

If you want the content you post to do well on Facebook, it’s a good idea to try and get your head around the Facebook algorithm.

The algorithm determines which pieces of content are shown on each person’s timeline and in what order, so if you’re hoping that your followers will actually see your posts, it’s a good idea to try and comply with the criteria that appeal to Facebook.

Of course, they would never make it as easy as telling you what they do and don’t prioritise exactly, but the information they do give is a good starting point to map your content around.

In early 2018, an update from Mark Zuckerberg gave a good level of insight into changes to the algorithm, as he announced that the focus was being shifted away from brands and more towards people’s friends and families. Subsequent updates have built on this, with aims to fight fake news and strive to show users the most relevant content for them.

This news isn’t brilliant for brands, and over the last few years many brands have reported a significant decrease in engagement across all types of Facebook post. However, the aims of Facebook are to improve user experience, something we should all be encouraging for our customers, and, by adjusting your content accordingly, you can still get a lot of benefit from the platform.

Some tips for working with the algorithm include:

  • Try not to use overly salesy messaging and imagery combined with a link back to your website, as Facebook will see this is a promotion. Native content (that doesn’t encourage users to leave the platform) will often do better.
  • Don’t directly ask people to comment on or share a post directly, as this may be construed as an attempt to ‘cheat’ the algorithm (e.g. comment below for your chance to win). Instead, ask relevant questions or encourage followers to tell you their opinions.
  • Utilise your internal network, and have your employees or friends share your posts to their own networks, as this will make them more likely to be seen.
  • While it’s not a bad thing to stir up some debate on your posts, try to avoid being overly controversial, as this could be seen as fake news.

No matter how you intend to engage with your audience on Facebook, being aware of the algorithm and the current priorities of Facebook should help you achieve the best results on your posts.

Plan your content

The next step before you begin posting is to plan your content. As with all the social channels, using a scheduling tool like Buffer or Hootsuite can be a useful way to keep regular content going out.

When it comes to the type of content you should be posting on Facebook, there are many options, but as we’ve seen the algorithm will prioritise your posts if they drive engagement and keep people on the site.

Visual content is generally much better for driving engagement than text-based posts on Facebook, so try and include eye catching imagery, short videos, graphics, gifs and any other visual elements you can think of.

One way to get the right balance of promotional and brand building content is to follow the 70:20:10 rule. 70% of your posts should aim only to build the brand, using thought leadership and connecting with your audience on a personal level. 20% should be content from other sources such as relevant industry information and news. Just 10% of your posts should be promotional, talking directly about your products and offers.

If you follow this rule and aim to keep your content fresh and funny, you should over time grow an audience that enjoys connecting with your page and can eventually become customers and even advocates of your business.

Post ‘Stories’ and live videos

As well as regular posts on the newsfeed, Facebook also has the option of posting Stories, much like Instagram.

This gives a great platform for your more informal, spur of the moment content, and is a great way to build a connection with your audience. See more about how you can use Stories to connect with your audience in our Instagram article.

As well as stories, another of Facebook’s features is live video. This is exactly how it sounds; a video shown on your followers’ timelines in real time.

This content often appears high on the timeline at the time it is being recorded, and your followers may even be notified that you are currently live. For this reason, it is best to try and time your live video for when you know a lot of your audience are usually online, which you can find out using the Insights tab on your business page.

Live video is ideally suited to longer videos, and may centre around an event, a process or a demonstration. Maybe you could demonstrate how to use your product, show the process that goes into making it or invite your Facebook followers to ‘join in’ on a fun company activity.

When Facebook release new features like live video, they tend to prioritise them in their algorithm, so it’s always worth keeping an eye on any updates and then working them into your content plan!

Facebook Ads

When it comes to marketing on Facebook, you may have heard some people saying that it’s impossible to get any traction without ads. There is some truth in this, as it’s definitely gotten much harder to reach a large network without putting some money behind your content.

While posting organically to your Facebook page can still be beneficial for businesses that have no budget, if you can invest some money into Facebook ads you could expand your reach considerably.

When it comes to running ads, you can get fairly specific about the audience you are targeting, which can be beneficial for a small budget as you can narrow down your reach and see what works for a defined audience.

Be sure to define your goals before you invest any money into Facebook Ads. Are you trying to drive conversions or just build up your following on the platform? Different types of ads will work better for each goal.

If you have an organic post that has already driven good results, you may choose to boost the post to have it seen by more people. If not, you may want to create an ad from scratch that targets a certain segment of your audience.

There are endless possibilities when it comes to creating ads for Facebook, and the key is to test out different tactics until you find what works best for you.

Have you found this information useful? Why not share our infographic to help other small businesses achieve their marketing goals!

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