Social media promotion and presence for a small business has become increasingly pertinent for several functions such as business branding, running sales and promotion campaigns and just outright getting more customers. I just realised that I have written about social media and its potential for a small business in several of my posts but none of them really outline how to go about doing this.
So in this post I decided to share what I do and how all of it has worked over these past few years. My current social media presence is mostly on Pinterest and Facebook. But that is owing to the nature of the business I promote, which is an online blog. For other kinds of businesses, for example if you are selling something, Instagram and Twitter also work, the aforementioned more than the latter.
Which social media platforms are the right choice for your business
Let me start by stating why I don't use Instagram and Twitter to promote my blog. Actually let us let me mention the four major social media platforms first: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Out of these I use Facebook and Pinterest.
I do not use Twitter and Instagram because I use social media to promote my blog posts. Only Pinterest and Facebook have the functionality of posting a URL with each post. Out of these do I use Pinterest more because, in the present, it delivers more organic traffic as compare to Facebook, although that could fast change fast as well.
Several years ago Facebook was the only social media platform I used because, A) I got good organic traction from it, and B, It was the most popular social media platform and Pinterest and even exist.
So which one of this which one of these will be the right choice for you? Let's begin by having a look at Facebook first and if it is the right fit small business.
The issue with Facebook (and possibly others)
When Facebook first started pages for businesses (yes I've been blogging for that long), it was all about organic reach. Organic is the opposite of paid in case you are wondering. For example when you search something on Google it shows two kind of search results. The organic ones and the paid ones which are labelled as ads or sponsored.
Paid ones can be seen right at the top and bottom as well as in the sidebar of the search page.
But this was during initiation phase of Facebook. They always had other plans I suppose. Once they had generated enough interest for businesses, gradually the organic reach began to shrink till the point that you were encouraged to do paid promotions to reach even your own page subscribers. Otherwise you were able to come in front of only a fraction of that.
This would seem unfair considering the fact that you had put in a lot of time and effort building that subscriber base. Things are still much the same and hence my dwindling interest in the platform unless I want to actively run an ad campaign for something I am selling, the promotion for which is likely to result in a sale and direct profit.
This makes it possible to measure a return investment also known as ROI which is the backbone of running successful ad campaigns. This however is just not possible for an article promotion and spending money is not a viable option. So I go looking for organic promotions as much as possible as far as blog posts are concerned.
However, Facebook can be the right choice for ‘your' business.
Why and when you should use Facebook for your business
So the odds are that your small business includes selling something in retail. So creating a Facebook page is a good idea for the following reasons.
Social media branding
Any social media platform is good for putting out branding content. And if you still so not know how important a brand image is, read this post.
To connect to more people
You can use it to connect with customers and even use it as a means of providing customer care.
It's a good way to kickstart things.
Although Instagram is fast catching up most of your family and friends and their extended circle are bound to be on Facebook. So it's a great place to reach out as well as a start a word by mouth campaign which is a very powerful thing as far as business promotion go. People have build up their entire businesses based solely on the power of words by mouth publicity. I have several such people in my acquaintances who have done exactly this.
You get to use Facebook ads.
Facebook ads respond to a certain kind of product and not so well with others. So you will have to experiment with this. But if you can get a campaign going with a good return on investment the reach can be tremendous. However, this is also tricky and the system needs constant monitoring and we'll talk more about this later.
You will be able to reach more people.
You will be able to reach more people not just on Facebook but also through other online searches because search engines like Google like to find references for a business in various places online, and they give a certain amount of weightage to your Facebook profile as well.
So having an active Facebook page that delivers meaningful content will help you get listed better in the search engine results as well. This means more people will find you not only on Facebook but also when they do related searches on Google.
The best practises for posting and reporting on Facebook
I have already mentioned that the organic reach of Facebook has dwindled to a large extent. So consider yourself warned. But there are several things that you can do to get the momentum going. And the fact is that if you can somehow, by following some of the tips and tricks that we mentioned in this article, get your brand to a certain level of prominence on the Facebook platform then it suddenly all begins to work for you.
What I mean by that is that if you can develop a certain amount of popularity and a certain number of followers for your page, that sets the stone rolling down the hill, as it were. It just kind of gathers momentum from there and the organic reach of your page does start to work for you more and more.
But like I said this momentum only gets going once you reach that a certain stage of popularity. So in the beginning you do have to make extra effort and maybe even use paid promotions on Facebook to build up to that level. So let's see the things you can do right for Facebook to start working for your home business.
How to create a post for Facebook that works.
Facebook also seems to be going the Instagram way which is to say that the content that draws maximum attention is imagery and videos. One reason is that more people in general do not like to read as compared to being exposed to pictorial messages, special on social media platforms where they come for recreation and leisure.
The pictures format, as a matter of fact, was always the biggest draw for Facebook anyway. You must be knowing this from your experience with your own personal accounts. The Facebook status used to be a popular thing equalled by the ability to share pictures. That is what interested people the most to post and to see pictures of people in and around their circle of friends and family.
So you've got to get a good visual out there for your post. If you have a product that you can photograph of got it settled. Just make sure you take good pictures. Here is a guide on how to take good product pictures.
How to create different visual content around the same product.
There are some businesses that can generate different content for Facebook given the virtue of the product which is in a constant flux in its way variety. Think, a bakery or a small garment designer. They will have new items to post literally on a daily basis.
But what if your business is a business that sells a singular or maybe a handful of products that remain fairly constant? How do you create different, varying and interesting content for Facebook based on the same products? Well, then what you do is create related content.
If you still chopping knives, you post recipes and videos of making food with your knife slicing different kinds of things. A very good example that I can give is of a company I know that sells a highly successful and a singular kind of exercise machine. Not a huge array of fitness equipment just one single machine.
Their social media posts are full of workout videos of all kinds and hardly any of them use their own machine. How many videos can you make on one machine anyway. The idea is to build a viewership of fitness enthusiasts through interesting content and then showcase their own product along with it.
Also learn to write a good copy. A short promotional message calls for a good message. Writing good advertisements in limited space is also a skill and you will get the hang of it once you start doing this. Read up on the subject of writing effective advertisements a little bit more.
Plan your content
Overall, my tip to you for using Facebook for your small business is to plan your content in such a manner that you can build a robust page first. The plan should ensure that you are able to post on a regular basis. I did not say frequent. I said regular.
And when you get people to your Facebook business page for the first time they should be enough content on it. Although, truth be told, most people will like a page without really looking at it. They will like it on the basis of the post they saw or because of some invitation they received in their notification inbox.
Using Facebook ads – Why, how, benefits and the pitfalls
Now like I told you, the days of organic growth on Facebook are more or less over. You are going to get some traction from the friends and family you promote to. But unless you end up posting some content that is sensational, or you are a small celebrity yourself, you are going to need help, the paid kind to build a viewership on your Facebook business page.
Enter Facebook ads.
Facebook makes it really simple to promote your page and post. You just choose a few options like which country want to run your promotions in, give your credit card and you are pretty much done. But this is allowing the automatic algorithm or Facebook to take over and control many aspects of your advertisement campaign. If you really want a bang for your buck then you should learn to control everything there is about running your ads, that, is all the settings that are involved.
Running advertisements can quickly get expensive and it can go through almost any amount of daily budget that you set, from five dollars to 500 $ per day.
Advantages and disadvantages of Facebook ads for business
Facebook ads are very simple to run but get quite complex if you take control of all aspects of your campaign which you definitely should. In order to know what is working and what is not you need to know what is happening in the first place.
My biggest issue with Facebook ads is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep the cost of the clicks low and very often something that was working great just stops doing that anymore. And you can't figure out what went wrong and how to fix it.
Actually, it is a mistake to say that Facebook ads are complicated. Facebook has gone out of their way to make the whole process seem so simple and easy that you will feel tempted to just spend a little bit of money and promote your post and see what happens.
You can do this without getting into any more complicated settings yourself. You need to make about four main choices.
- What picture to upload.
- Age group of people you want seeing your post.
- Which region in the world and
- What interest to target. (Facebook classifies people with their interests they have. I’m not sure how they do this but it's probably some settings that people can choose in their profile.)
Facebook Ads Vs. Google Ads
Compare to other most popular contextual and display ad network that is Google ads, Facebook ads are relatively simpler. The thing is that over years ad networks and specially Google have added increasingly complex targeting settings in their console. This is actually good news for the advertisers as they can make their campaigns very precise but I cannot help feeling that it is more than what is required in many cases.
Although you can set everything on auto mode and let Google decide but that is not a good approach for many reasons. Like we said earlier in order to know what's working with your ad campaigns be it Google or Facebook, you need to know what is happening in the first place. This is only possible if you are controlling the targeting settings yourself and not allow the automatic algorithms to do it.
These targeting options have become more complex over the years because over the years these search engines, social media platforms and various websites have become extremely good at tracking peoples activities and very good at collecting data. So since they have more data about people regarding their interest, income, the things that they own etc. they can now offer these specifications for you to choose when you are trying to build the right audience to target with your ads.
Facebook ads have the obvious advantage over Google ads if you are looking to build the presence of your business through the Facebook Business page. For sending people directly to your website or promoting your business online, you can definitely try Google Ads as well.
Use Facebook Ads to promote Facebook Business Page – Do not direct link
In the very beginning, I would like to say that I recommend that you promote your Facebook page as opposed to trying to promote the URL of a blog post or a specific page on your business website. In fact many businesses treat their Facebook business page as their business website and online presence.
It’s still okay to send people through Facebook Ads to a sales page where which might result in a direct sale and direct profit. If you can measure your return on investment and by various trial and error, and experimenting you can get your campaign to work in such a way that the money you spend on it is less than the amount that you get from the sale, then by all means you can use your Facebook ads to send people to a sales pages.
In any other circumstances I recommend trying to build your audience on Facebook itself because for one it is much cheaper to do that. The cost per click on Facebook ads in much lower when you are using them to promote your Facebook business page and get more followers.
Secondly, once you have that user base it will be easier for you to reach this people organically without using paid promotions every time you post something new. But that raises another issue and I will address it shortly.
The issues I have Facebook post and page promotions
Now the issue I had with using paid promotions on Facebook was the widely varying results and the inability to control or understand what was really going on behind the scenes in spite of choosing all the ad settings myself.
So Facebook will charge you a certain amount for a certain number of impressions. For example if you said your daily budget at five dollars they will tell you that they will be able to deliver an approximate number of impressions such as between 200 to 500 impressions, regardless of how many actual clicks or engagements you get.
So it is in your favour and to your advantage to fine tune your creatives and campaign in such a manner so as to get the maximum amount of clicks or engagement for those number of impressions.
Now two things have happened. First, this cost for impressions has gone up in general. Second I have had campaigns running where the cost per click was about 10 to 15 cent is very good for an ad campaign. But for some inexplicable reason that performance changed over a couple of days and it became much more expensive.
I myself did not change anything and regardless of any tweaking that I try to do in the settings it did not come back to the original low-cost. This happened more than once with more than one campaign and I can't help but feel that the system is programmed to keep your costs above a certain social.
Even if you end up creating a perfect campaign with a great creative that gets a higher click through rate, the system will not let it perform as well it can and keep your costs higher than a certain threshold.
The results? the cost for clicks doesn't come down and ads become expensive. Once more just like the fading organic reach, this wasn't how things worked a few years back. Facebook ads got a lot of publicity in the beginning because it was possible to generate thousands of 1 cent clicks. This was at the time when Google ads were getting more and more expensive and there was no other sizeable display ad network that could deliver traffic with any amount of reliability and promise of general traffic.
Becoming more expensive for small businesses
People who tapped into the system at this stage were able to build large followings on the business pages and even promote a lot of third-party affiliate products. Of course the rules got stricter and changed with time as Facebook got more traction and direct linking to 3rd party products was stopped.
But now it is equally difficult to get low cost per click on Facebook ads. Which is why I have virtually stopped using them. You see, it's also a kind of a double whopper.
The double whopper of Facebook Ad Spending
This is the point I was alluding to when I was telling you about why it’s better to use Facebook ads and promotions to promote your Facebook business page rather than use it to send traffic to another blog or sales page. It falls cheaper in the long run. But there is a twist here as well.
Let’s say that I use FB Facebook ads to promote my page and get about 1000 likes. Now, because of the dwindling organic reach, the next time that I post something I still have to pay to promote that post and be able to reach the entirely of my own subscriber base that I have already paid to build.
The biggest reasons for using Facebook for business
Like I said, if you are a business, social media serves many functions.
Facebook is a great place to put out frequent brand and product messages. Branding is a huge factors that determines the success of your business.
Platforms like Facebook catch people in their most receptive of times. There is ample opportunity for them to absorb your business message and reactive favourably. It helps get through the so called ‘consumer blind spot’.
Social media has become such a norm that a lot of people respond to what to read and see there. More than ever before. It is very interactive. The idea is to build a following and user base and things in a certain order.
That order according to me is as follows.
How to grow Facebook Business Page ‘Likes'
Step one you build content. Not too much but just enough to give your page a certain robust feel before you try and promote it to your first few visitors. You don't want to start promoting your business page straightaway without good content because that might not give a very favourable opinion of your business to the people who might be visiting for the first time and gathering their first impression through that page.
The next step is to start building your subscriber base. After you have done your content you start making efforts to get more and more people to come and visit and like it. Start with your friends and family and their extended circles. Then take help of paid promotion as well.
The third stage is where you do both content and subscribers simultaneously. Keep generating good content and hopefully your existing subscribe this and the freshly generated content will be able to keep generating some kind of traction and on the Facebook search algorithm and you will continue to get new organic likes and subscribers.
I have explained this above as well. It is more difficult to generate traffic in the beginning when you are starting afresh. But one you have developed some presence online, your organic reach also increases.
If you have any questions about this, please feel free to post it in the comments below. We look forward to your questions and in fact enjoy responding to them as well. Gives us more to talk about, you see. 🙂 All the best.