Facebook for Local Businesses

Small businesses, I think, have an edge when it comes to social media engagement, and Facebook is a very good example of this. Effective social media requires a relationship between the business/business owner and their followers. This is much easier for small businesses to attain than it is for large businesses, particularly because small businesses tend to be closer to their customers offline–the online environment simply becomes another forum for engagement.

Despite the fact that social media channels like Facebook can provide a global audience, small businesses don’t need to extend their reach globally–in fact, they can (and should) focus on their local markets.

In attempting to do this, we believe there are some important keys to effective engagement:

  • Fully understanding the audience and what interests members of the audience relative to what the business has to offer. Engagement designed to drive results in some measurable way needs to find the “sweet spot” between audience interest/need and the business need. A beauty salon, for instance, might offer tips and ideas on hair care, makeup ideas, etc.– providing value to the audience while positioning the salon as a “thought leader.”
  • Fully understanding the channel, in this case Facebook. Take a look at what others are doing and what’s working for them. What types of posts seem to engage the most relevant participation? Which posts generate the most likes, reposts, etc.? Evaluating competitive activity can also be helpful, but don’t “copy” competitors – the key is to position your business relative to competitors so that you are “different” in some meaningful way.
  • Committing to regular engagement. That means posting regularly as well as monitoring activity and being responsive to comments–both positive and constructive. This is an area where we see a lot of marketers fall flat, and one we work hard to maintain in our own work and the work we do for clients.
  • Evaluating and measuring. Online communication is infinitely measurable; there’s no excuse not to be evaluating what’s happening on your social media channels and making adjustments as appropriate.

Ultimately, social media channels, including Facebook, should be used by small businesses to lead to some meaningful business outcome–e.g. brand awareness/preference or sales. Facebook (and other social channels) can be great tools for local businesses but only when used effectively. For more on the topic, see another recent post we wrote.

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