Online marketers often put a lot of emphasis on Facebook pages for small businesses. More and more often, I see restaurants, bars, retailers, and other businesses posting signs alerting customers of their Facebook page. And some of these Facebook pages are really good; they’re filled with interesting updates, announcements, pictures, coupons, and more.
You can’t take your Facebook likes to the bank. So, I have to wonder: Do business Facebook pages really matter? Or are they just taking up time that could be spent on actually building your business?
I see people boasting about how much engagement they get on their Facebook pages. Engagement is great, because it means that your customers are interested in what you’re saying and they enjoy your brand. But if those likes are directly correlating to sales, does it really matter?
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- How many people found out about my product/service because Facebook?
- How many of my fans are actually buying from me?
- How many of my fans are repeat customers?
More importantly, you should ask yourself: How many of my customers are ONLY customers because of your actions on Facebook? If people would have purchased from you anyway, Facebook doesn’t really matter, even if they are engaged with what you’re posting.
Determining this is the tricky part, since often Facebook fans are people who were already customers or thinking about becoming customers. Here are a few ideas:
- Poll your customers. One restaurant in my community, Dishes of India, includes a short survey card with every single bill so they can learn about their customers and find out how much you enjoyed your meal (they also ask you to give your email address for their mailing list, which is really smart). You could easily ask “How did you hear about us” on this kind of survey card.
- Do a promotion with a coupon that you distribute across all your channels (email, print flyers, social media) including Facebook. Later, do a similar promotion where you don’t offer the coupon Facebook, but still distribute across your other channels. Of course, there are other variables here as well, but this can at least give you an idea of how much Facebook helps you make sales.
- If you’re a local business (i.e. people buy in person, not online), measure your local fans. Are people liking you because they like your products or service? Or are they liking you because you post funny pictures and interesting quotes? If you’re a restaurant owner in Idaho, it doesn’t do you a lot of good if half of your fan base live outside of the United States.
Understanding the benefits of Facebook for your business is tricky, because sometimes it isn’t just about sales. It’s also about letting your fans work for you as a “street team” of sorts.
Street teams began as a way for record labels to promote music in a really inexpensive way. Often in return for little more than a t-shirt and tickets to the next show, street teams distribute flyers and serve as brand advocates for the band in question, doing all they can to promote their music. They do this not for the money, but because they love the music.
On Facebook, that fan who never makes a single purchase can still be extremely valuable if they introduce your brand to 50 people who do make purchases. Or, depending on what you’re selling, even if they introduce your brand to one person, a single purchase could mean a lot of money in your pocket.
The benefits of brand advocacy are really hard to measure. Again, polling can help you determine how people found out about you, but it isn’t an exact science.
Updates that Matter
If you’re going to be on Facebook, the key is to post updates that really matter. That way, you know that likes and shares from your audience are really benefiting your brand. What kind of updates matter?
- Announcements about Your Company
- Event information
- Success stories
- Pictures Showcasing Your Products and Services
- Blog Posts
- Fan Photos
- Coupons and Sales Information
Essentially, the type of updates that matter are about your company. Funny pictures, cartoons, quotes, etc. don’t matter as much because they don’t really relate to your business.
That doesn’t mean that you should never share that hilarious meme photo you came across. It just means that you shouldn’t measure your success by how many people share or like this image. When people share a coupon or a picture from your latest event, it matters a lot more.
So Does Your Business Really Need Facebook?
It really depends on your business. Sometimes, it just doesn’t make sense. But if your target audience uses Facebook, you should at least give it a try. Measure your results and remember that raw like and share numbers don’t matter as much as conversion matters.
At the very least, be there so you can listen. If someone talks about your business online, you want to be there to answer them, whether that means responding to a complaint or thanking them for praises. Sometimes, social media is less about finding new customers and more about taking care of the ones you already have.
Do you think Facebook really matters for small businesses? Should all businesses be active there? Leave a comment below!
If all you do is post information about your business on Facebook, are you really engaging anyone…or just advertising. Social media is supposed to be about engaging. I’m not sure I understand the point of the tips here.
I think there’s a way to be engaging while posting information about your business. It doesn’t have to be an advertisement. For example, there’s a winery I follow that posted a picture of their co-founders decorating for the holidays with a note about how frustrating it is to untangle lights. It got a ton of shares, comments, and likes. Stuff like that is engaging while still going back to the main goal: to promote your brand and products/services. When I see brands only posting funny pictures, quotes, etc. that only relate to the industry as a whole, but have little to do with their business specifically, I have to ask, “What’s the point?” If something goes viral because it’s funny, most of the time people don’t even know who originally posted it. I’d rather have 10 paying customers than 1000 engaged fans who never buy anything!
One thing that you didn’t mention is the possible SEO value of your Facebook business page. Bing has Facebook data such as Likes and Shares, and Google can crawl the Facebook business pages, as well. So keeping your Facebook page up to date and linking out to your new blog posts on your Facebook page is important–not just because your followers will be notified of your latest posts.
Lots of good advice here. Thanks Nina.
There is an interesting challenge for me, consulting to or coaching small businesses in the professional, B2B space.
I was asked by one such client why they should have a Facebook page. My answer was that for them it’s because there are over 1 billion active users and if some of them come looking for his company, or his industry expertise, his company should be there, however little actual engagement they were having on a daily basis. So we made it part of the mix, but not the focal point of their social media strategy.
Yeah !! If all you do is post information about your business on Facebook, are you really engaging anyone…or just advertising. 🙂