Facebook Tips for Small Businesses

Facebook recently celebrated its nine year anniversary. Business Pages have only been around since late 2007, and they seem to evolve all the time. The constant changes can make it difficult for businesses, especially small businesses, to figure out what they need to do in order to thrive on Facebook.

My company’s Facebook Page has more than tripled in fans since January 2012. We want you to learn from our successes and mistakes so that you can make Facebook work for your business. This is a two-part post. Part I, focuses on generating content that results in engagement. Part II will focus on the tools you can use to leverage your Facebook presence.

Tip #1: Use Timeline to Its Full Advantage

When Facebook rolled out Timeline last year they added new features that were designed to make it easier for users to engage with a business’s page. The three biggest features include the cover photo, highlighted posts and the ability to “pin” a post to the top of your Timeline for seven days.

You may be aware of these tools but are you using them to their full advantage? I often find myself guilty of forgetting about all three of these tools.

Here are some suggestions about how to use each of these features.

Highlighted posts
Highlighting a post is a great way to bring awareness to an important status update. Add in a big, attention grabbing image that stretches across the whole Timeline and it’s even better. To highlight a status update hover over the top right corner of a status update and click on the “star” icon. This will expand the post across the width of the Timeline.

ShortStack Highlighted Post

Pin feature
We recently used the “pin” feature to highlight our Valentine’s Day template. The post is relevant for several weeks so by pinning it to the top of our Page, our users will be reminded of it every time they visit. To pin a post hover over the top right corner of a status update and click on the “pencil” icon. A drop down menu will appear and you can click on “pin to top.” This will pin the post to the top left hand corner of your Facebook Page for seven days.

ShortStack pinned post

Cover photo
Change out your cover photo on a regular basis. Changing your cover photo keeps your page fresh and the change announcement appears in your followers’ news feed, reminding them of your presence. You can feature different sides of your business and get creative to go along with holidays and special occasions. Check out our cover photo template for a downloadable guide for creating an awesome cover photo.

Tip #2: Include a call to action

In a blog post from August 2012, we provided 6 tips for writing the perfect call to action and our readers loved it. It is a good reminder that the phrasing and structure of your Facebook status update correlates directly to how your users will engage with your post. By the way, it’s okay to ask your fans to like, comment, re-post, and share your status updates. You’ll be surprised at the response a simple call to action gets.

Tip #3: Integrate content

Don’t feel pressured by trying to post original content to your Facebook Page several times a day. Instead, tune in to some other experts and thought leaders in your industry and share some of the information they’ve generated. The key is to find a nice balance between information pulled from your business’s resources and outside tips and articles that will benefit your fans. Successful business pages either create or find the best information for their users and provide it to them in one easy-to-find place.

Mari Smith Facebook

Tip #4: Be human

Too often businesses forget why people are on Facebook: to be entertained, find interesting content and share stories. Fans want to know there is a face behind your brand. You’ll notice on our Facebook Page that whenever someone posts a question or comment, we respond and sign our name. Our fans like to know they are talking to someone real.

Being human can also translate into being transparent. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. (We don’t recommend misspelled words or other errors in posts, but hey, sometimes stuff happens!) We can guarantee if you do make a mistake, someone will call you out on it. The best way to deal with it is to laugh and be honest. Thank the fan for pointing it out, make the correction and move on. We’re all human, it’s okay to remind people of that.

If you’re willing, show photos of your employees and your company, talk about birthdays and other special occasions. The more personal you can be with your audience the more your fans can relate to you and will see you as a friend they want to check in with on Facebook versus a brand or business trying to sell something.

Tool Select Meet the Team

Tip #5: Use Facebook Apps

Facebook apps can help you take your engagement and marketing efforts to new levels. Apps are a great way to get more content and information in front of your fans and can be created for virtually any marketing effort. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Photo/Video Contest
Voting Contest
Coupon giveaway
Welcome Page
Employee highlight
Newsletter integration
Product lines
Virtual gifts
Refer-a-friend contest
Crowd-source app
Like-drive app
Exclusive Facebook giveaway

The list goes on and on. But essentially, Facebook apps can boost your brand awareness, generate traffic to your site, help you engage with your customers, generate leads for your business and build customer loyalty.

Tip #6: Show up on a Regular Basis

To have a rewarding presence on social media you must attend to it. You can’t post on Facebook once a week — or tweet or blog for that matter — and expect to get anything of value out of it. There are conflicting reports about the times of day that are optimal for posting, but according to Facebook, restaurants that post between 7:00 am and 2:00 pm get the best engagement and same goes for retailers that post from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Tip #7: Brag a little

We often talk about the 70-20-10 rule: 70 percent of your Page’s content shared should be information that is valuable and relevant to your Facebook fans. 20 percent of your posts should be shared content, i.e., content that comes from other people. The final 10 percent is Facebook posts that are promotional: sale announcements, new product alerts, events, etc. We’ve briefly touched on all three of these in previous tips but the point is that it’s okay to brag a little on your Facebook Page.

If your business is featured in the media or receives an awesome award, flaunt it. If Mashable picks up an article from your blog, let the world know. Showing your fans that trusted sources are giving your company the stamp of approval gives your business credibility and shows that you’re at the top of your industry.

Jim Belosic guest writer for allfacebook

Tip #8: Respond to everything

Every Facebook Page is going to have the occasional negative comment. Negative comments are never fun, especially because negative comments posted on your Page are available for the whole world to see. It’s crucial to monitor your Facebook Page at all times and to respond to all comments as soon as possible. Responding to negative comments shows your fans that you’re open to all opinions. If a comment is extremely harsh or rude you can block that person from the page, but its best to think about what you are about to post before posting it.

Stay tuned for Part two of this article which will focus on the tools you can use to leverage all that great content you’re creating.