Pretty much every online business uses social media to advertise themselves around the web. Since they are free, and so incredibly popular, it is a no brainer for any business to create a profile on Facebook and Twitter. However, ‘real-world’ businesses that don’t actually make any sales on the web often overlook the social media channel of marketing. By leveraging the specific functions of Facebook a real-world business can see some great benefits from just a small time investment.
Why does Facebook work better for local businesses than Twitter? Think about the way both of those social media outlets work. Twitter is more-so revolved around people following celebrities, athletes, musicians, news people, etc. It often serves as a pseudo-news feed for people that have customized their follow list to include people in the fields that they are interested in. Facebook, however, revolves around friends. While you might ‘Like’ some famous people on Facebook, more likely your feed is filled up with the daily goings on of your friends.
That friend-based aspect is what makes Facebook so strong when it comes to local marketing. Most people’s friends live within close proximity to them, making a friend network pretty strongly tied to a geographic area. Where a Twitter feed is likely to be global, Facebook timelines are usually much more local in scope. For real-world businesses, this means the opportunity to market directly to people that are living in your neighborhood and could easily turn into customers.
The first step for a local business to use Facebook in a powerful way is to create a page that gives users the information they need. Addresses, phone numbers, and contact names should all be readily available, as should hours of operation. The page should also be active, posting about specials or upcoming events that customers could take advantage of. If anyone posts a question or comment on the business’ page, that post should be responded to promptly to make it clear that the page is being regularly tended.
In terms of developing a following on Facebook and growing your base of ‘Likes’ that could turn into customers, a business should offer something in exchange for their page being shared. For example, anyone who shares the page with all of their friends could be offered a 10% discount at their next visit. Or perhaps they could be entered into a drawing where you will give away a prize of some meaningful value. An incentive has to be given in order to get a useful amount of people to act on the request.
If you have a small, local business that needs to reach out to the surrounding community, it doesn’t get much better than Facebook. You will have a free space to promote your business, easy access to customers and their questions, and friend networks that can quickly spread the word about how great you are. As with any marketing effort, building a following on Facebook takes time and attention. It will not happen overnight, but a long-term plan for growth should see excellent results.