One of the keys to a successful small business venture is choosing the right location or platform to launch the marketing campaign. You need to advertise where the customers are always around; for a lot of business owners, this place is called Facebook. It has been quite a while since Facebook changed its course from being a simple social network for college students to connect with each other into a giant online platform where small businesses from all around the world are flooding every user’s News Feed with advertisement and promotional posts of all sorts. Despite the recent revelation that the social networking site was involved in a potentially dangerous privacy-breaching business activity in which Facebook provided access to users’ personal data to a third-party company, its popularity does not seem to budge. There are still billions of monthly active users, and it will continue to increase by the millions for many years to come. If you are running a local small business, Facebook can be a great help too for the following reasons.
- It is affordable
Advertising on Facebook is effective because you get to choose who will see the ads. Posting a promotional content in your business page allows your existing customer base to see updates about stocks, discounts, events, coupons, giveaways, contests, and so on. You can even upload related posts to your personal page to expand the outreach. Ask your employees to do the same to get even wider online exposure on the platform. Paid marketing strategy is also available, which is affordable, and you can choose an entire users’ demographic category rather than specific people on your Friends list.
- Socialize the company
Many people think of a business entity as a strictly for-profit organization whose only interest is to make money. While this may not be entirely incorrect, the people behind the entity are as human as their customers. A company needs a representative that practically acts as its face and personality in the society. People want to interact with a company as if they are having a conversation with a person; Facebook is one of the best places to make it happen. Customers want to have a sense of relationship with a brand they buy and use. Keeping an open line of communication on the social network creates a strong perception that your company cares about customers and all their stories. More importantly, customers believe that the company is a person within their social circles.
- A chance to practice good customer service
In business’ practical sense, Facebook is like a 24/7 customer service where you can interact directly with customers. You can create a group for customers to share their experiences, ask questions and, of course, throw some criticisms. Customers are naturally hard to please, finicky, and often demanding. Regardless of how great your goods & services are, there will be a portion of customers who can always find something to criticize, even if the complaint is of little importance, for example, color options, a single typo in the instruction manual, discounts that are available for too short period, and so on. Being on Facebook with such customers is not a bad thing; on the contrary, it is an opportunity for you to explain the source of the problems and do an adequate follow-up to all complaints in a respectable manner. Remember that having a prompt, friendly customer service is indispensable for a successful business, especially when you have a lot of competitors offering more or less similar products. One thing that can make you stand out from the crowd is the quality of customer service you are willing to provide to all customers.
- Build a local community
A good company is the pride of a local community. Encourage local people to share their experiences with your products and services on Facebook with comments, videos, photos, articles, or reviews. If your business page is successful at bringing people together, you can then develop a loyal fan base that will grow over time.
- Learn about the consumers
Being in active (and almost constant) interactions with your customers creates an excellent opportunity to learn about them a little bit on a personal level. Through their posts and comments, at least you see a glimpse of the types of product they want based on which you can implement some changes to fulfill the demands. There is no single product of any category that fits all customers, but it should be in the company’s interest to come up with designs and ideas of a product that caters to most (if not all) customers. In many cases, customers only want minor changes to the existing product, such as shape or dimensions, materials, or ornamental aspects. If you are in the service business, Facebook is a great place to learn about customers’ interests and how your business may help make their lives or works much easier. Use the continuous stream of feedback to keep on improving quality or even add new services people will certainly use.
- Word of mount marketing
Even in the smallest towns and cities, people are talking about their favorite local businesses on Facebook. Topics of the conversation range from product quality, poor services, recommended companies, recent product launch, reviews, and concerns. There are plenty of groups whose members are talking about why certain local business is better than another. By being on Facebook, and as long as you respect your customers, anybody in the group is more inclined to recommend your company; it is also easy to provide a link to your profile.
- Other local businesses have their own Facebook business pages
For all the reasons mentioned above, it would be such a waste of opportunity if your business is not on Facebook, especially considering that your competitors have already been on the social network for a while. Online exposure from the platform has all the potentials to bring in more buyers and expand your business to a great extent. There are other alternatives indeed, for example, Twitter and Instagram, but their monthly active users are nowhere near what Facebook currently has.
Some local small businesses may have concerns that their accounts are also associated with the kind of activities similar to Facebook’s allegedly-illicit dealing. That being said, they cannot afford to ignore the importance of keeping an open channel of communication with customers and fan base on the social network. There is no denying that Facebook is an established advertising platform for businesses of all sizes and industries from small local startups to international corporations. About 1/3 of the world population are on Facebook, and this provides an excellent opportunity for companies to gain new customers at an astonishing rate.