Facebook is a wonderland of opportunity for local businesses. It not only allows you to target ads but you and your business can engage with fans. Sadly this is not the case for most local businesses. They are not using Facebook effectively and instead are seriously using it to their disadvantage. Far to often businesses are using Facebook like any other ad channel – this tool was meant to be used, to engage with people! I’ve listed some of the most common mistakes small local businesses make on Facebook and how these mistakes may be corrected.
1. Invite everyone they know/met to fan their Facebook Page
It’s not wise to invite people from New York to fan your California clam chowder. Does it make sense to invite other real-estate brokers from Minnesota to fan your Texas real-estate company? Is there a benefit to inviting your competition to fan your page? Rhetorical. The answer is NO! Fan page value comes from the ability to send messages through status update and FB messages to all your fans at one time. The benefit to having non-local fans is primarily valuable to businesses who have actual non-local customers (tourist related business) or giving your competition inside info on your business and what you offer to fans and customers. Realtors, this is directed to you – the value of a page is to be able to connect, message and have a dialog with people in your own area – not other Realtors. So resist the urge to invite your peers (especially those in your region) to fan your page. The numbers game works this way: it’s better to have a small fan page that can convert visitors to clients than a hub where your competition are able to steal your leads!
2. Only update with content related to their business
A local business regardless of the business industry is LOCAL first. To begin, when you update, your posts will have two sides – the business updates and local updates. If you have the inside scoop on sale at a local merchant, inform your fans. You must be engaged in not just your business but also in the city/town itself. This step will help you build new fans that are local and stand as a reminder to your existing community that you are local. Frequency of visits increase if you have something to say that directly relates to their life. Take a dentist for example – people at large won’t need your business information until they have a need or a toothache, but if you post content about dentistry related tips as well as local info like holiday events, you will find they are more likely to remember you as a local dentist when the day arrives where they need your service!
HINT: If you are a dentist – make your profile pic a tooth – if you are a Realtor – include a house in your page profile pic – get it? Help people visually identify what you do right in their status feed! Also maximize your image height 540 pixels by width 180 pixels.
3. Only share status updates and never engage with fans
When a Page fails to respond to fans in comments or they don’t explore their fans and comment on their profile updates local businesses loose a valuable opportunity. The speedy responsiveness of any communication will show visitors that you took the time to comment back. One of the best ways is to thank them for participating in your page! I recommend that you personally friend your fans. A way to build a stable Facebook relationships is to actively seek to friend your fans from your personal profile. (Read my post on Personal Branding) To manage this strategy you will need to place them in a List titled “FANS.” In your account privacy settings you will be able to block “FANS” from seeing specific content like your personal info, selected albums and wall updates (Lists will allow you to retain a private Facebook environment).
4. Not engaging outside of the fan page
Exploring Facebook fan pages will expose you to the worst habit on Facebook – people and businesses that stay on their own profile and pages and never venture out to of that interface. To grow a page properly with a local following, you need to engage with local people and groups. This means you need to regularly comment on other local friends’ pages and join and engage with local groups. In the range of difficulty this is one of the easiest methods of growing your community. Find local Facebook Groups where locals are chatting. Set goals for your levels of engagement. At least 3 times a day post outside of your pages and profiles. You do this by commenting on other people’s status updates and local groups you become a member of. Successful methods vary but failure is certain if you are 100% sales focused – building relationships so when you post something about your business there are people who care listening.
5. Never let anyone know about their Facebook page
I’m assuming you have a business or are apart of an organization that desires to make money. Money is vital for the business to exist. As much as you advertise your business you will need to advertise your Facebook fan page. Do so by merging your website and your fan page via the fan box widget, add a link to your page on your website and place your fan page url on your personal Facebook profile info tab.
GEOLOCATION is the FUTURE, TODAY. Use Facebook Places. List your business on Facebook Places, Gowalla, and Foursquare – or other industry specific sites. Regularly engage with the people and pages that mention your Places profile. Remind your customers to check into your own business everyday to keep your stream active and if you Tweet (which you should), tag the location with your Places profile.
I wish you SUCCESS!