With over one billion active Facebook users, it’s no wonder that businesses have turned to the social media giant for mass marketing online. Having a Facebook page for your business has become as important, if not more so, than having your own website. Yet, countless businesses fail to get the most out of their Facebook experience because they are not using the network to its full potential. This entry is designed to make sure that all businesses, especially contractors, make Facebook work for them.
Optimizing your Timeline
The Facebook cover photo is prime marketing real estate. It’s the first thing that users will notice when engaging with your page. Use it to capture the culture and essence of your brand and showcase your products and services. Generally, keep the image from being focused on one specific product. Instead, use it to more wholly embody your business.
Contractors – Since the majority of your work is probably service based, find a visually pleasing and impressive job and use its image here. Don’t settle for a simple point-and-shoot photo; take your time and do a little editing before posting it if necessary.
Images on your Facebook Timeline appear front and center. Use them to visually engage your audience and make the most of a free place to show off your business. Build an entire portfolio online so that members have a reason to stick around and remember you.
Contractors – Consider asking your clients to pose for a shot with the finished product you’ve delivered. For example, as a roofing contractor, we may ask the Smith family to stand in their driveway smiling under their new roof. Showing off your clients like this will make them feel good and will show potential contacts that you care about them. Unlike your cover photo and profile picture, don’t worry about posting only perfect shots. Keep the beautiful portfolio images to your website, and show some fun behind-the-scenes shots on Facebook.
Facebook does a lot of the work for you, especially when it comes to analytics. Your job is to understand what they mean and how to use them to your advantage. Facebook tells you who your new fans are and breaks them down by gender and location to help you get a sense of who you’re talking to on Facebook. This type of analytical information can be difficult and complex to figure out for your own website, so use Facebook’s intuitive Insight tools to get the most out of your page.
Highlights and Pins:
When you’ve got something big to share, Facebook’s usual post and image format just won’t do. By selecting the star button on the upper-right of any post, you essentially highlight it by allowing the post to take up the full width of your page. You can also “pin to top” in order to extend the life of a post by keeping it at the top of your Timeline for an extended period. This feature takes advantage of the fact that Facebook doesn’t display everything in perfectly chronological order. Depending on the type, popularity, and importance of a post, it is possible for your fans to see one particular post for longer than usual. Thus, Facebook recommends businesses use these features once per week.
The rectangular boxes underneath the cover photo are Facebook Apps, and add functionality and even more dynamic content to your business’s page. There are literally thousands of apps to choose from and, since they get tons of visibility on your Timelines, it is important to pay attention to them. Visit the Facebook app center to find ones that meet your needs.
In the history of every business, there are certain milestones you wish to recognize. Facebook allows you to do this by making special posts commemorating anything you find significant to your business, like twenty years of operations. Here, you can subtly market your brand by creating a full-width post that will be sure to generate “likes” and engagement.
So you’ve got some new fans… show your appreciation for them by sharing their images and posts on your profile. A fan’s post on a business Timeline may not be seen by other visitors to your profile, because the Timeline automatically adds all user posts to a box on the right. By sharing their posts on your own page, you’re freeing your fan’s appreciation from confinement and showing some of your own for their support.
Contractors – Making your fans feel appreciated is extremely important. Because of the nature of a contracting business, it will be difficult to get a ton of “likes” for your company from people who haven’t had their roof redone or gutters replaced, for example. So for those you do have, show them the same support they offer you, and more are sure to come.
Be it a t-shirt or a new car, winning feels good. Run simple contests on your page to generate interactivity. Always offer relevant prizes and make sure that they are on-brand. By making sure your prize is related to your company, you can avoid freeloaders and reward those actually paying attention to your business. Facebook has strict guidelines when it comes to contents, so make sure you aren’t violating any policies before taking up this strategy.
Contractors – Offer your Facebook fans an incentive. Give on online-only discount that increases in value as your total fans increase. Your current fans will be eager to tell their friends to join in so that their potential savings increase, thus expanding your fan base. You’ll also be rewarding those who showed you loyalty in the first place. And by occasionally running contests, you’ll keep your fans happy even after you’ve roofed their house or cleaned their gutters.
In the real world, a picture may be worth a thousand words. But on Facebook, a picture can be worth a thousand likes. Images are far more visually stimulating than the average text post, and immediately draw attention to your profile. Additionally, images can show off your work and reveal your portfolio. Post photos of satisfied clients, finished products, and behind-the-scenes work, such as staff on the job. However, don’t post photos for the sake of it. Always focus on quality over quantity, so put a little effort into the composition.
Most page admininstrators make the mistake of updating their Timeline without putting much thought into adding a description or ending the description with a question. Asking questions is probably one of the easiest methods to get fans to comment and share their thoughts. Without asking a question, people might just read the post and move on.
Everyone loves a handy tip. As a contractor, it is expected that you have a mastery of a particular field that few other know much about. While there may be thousands of replacements for your everyday good, contractors and their services are much more limited, so share some of your secrets with your loyal online fan base. Tips offer value to your online audience and give them a reason to stick with you after the job.
Posting famous quotes may seem cliche, but when chosen with care they can reflect true ideals and qualities of a business. Post the occasional thought provoking quote and ask your fans to share their own. Avoid the most popular and spring for some lesser known sayings to keep things fresh.
Photo captions always generate a large comment response. Fans love to share their thoughts on an image and feel empowered when your business asks for their opinion. Post an interesting image and be sure to interact with those who offer up a caption or two by responding to and liking their comments.
Fill-in-the-blank posts are great at sparking engagement. The blanks are essentially ‘platforms’ for people to share their creativity. These types of posts often garner fun and short comments, which then encourage your audience to react and interact. Much like the aforementioned photo captions, this engagement technique can create a more focused response depending on the length of the blank to be filled.
You’ve been implementing the above strategies. Now it’s time to check your progress. First, it’s important to utilize Facebook’s powerful data insights. Available to brands with more than 30 likes, Facebook offers free information on such data as user reach and influence. Review old posts and identify the ones that reached the most people. Then identify the ones that generated the most comments and likes. Use this information to determine which type of post to make in the future. For example, say you want to get some client feedback. If the photos you post tend to generate a lot of comments, then use a photo for this post. Maybe you just want to make an announcement and reach as many of your fans as possible. Go with what has worked in the past.
Give and you will receive. It’s a key rule of marketing on any social media network: don’t make it all about you. This rule states that you must make 20 relational deposits before making 1 marketing withdrawal. Of course, the actual ratio will vary based on your total fan base and company size, but it’s a good idea to keep this rule in mind when posting online. Before each post be sure to check whether you’re leveraging marketing and interacting.
Contractors – It’s going to be difficult to avoid always promoting yourself, since turning Facebook fans into customers is much less frequent than for small goods companies. Nevertheless, post industry news and similar content to let buyers get a sense of who you are before they take the plunge.
Blogs and Websites:
Make sure that your social media networks aren’t the only digital presence your business has online. Indeed, social media networks are a great place to start. And when Facebook is used to its fullest, it can provide a great deal of information much like a website can. Still, having your very own site for clients allows just another step of engagement and a place to close the deal. It is quite possible that someone will find your site by finding you on Facebook first, so make sure that it’s only the first stop in their online interaction with you.
Contractors – It’s no secret: contractors don’t have the most impressive websites, if any at all. So at least make sure your Facebook page looks good. After that though, it’s definitely time to make sure your own website reflects what you’re posting on Facebook, and vice versa. Don’t advertise new deals on Facebook until your site reflects that info as well, otherwise you risk confusing your followers and damaging goodwill.
Just because you get a new fan on Facebook doesn’t mean that person will always be a fan or see what you post. It’s up to the business to generate content and incentives for their online audience that makes people want to spend time with you. When you add value to the conversation, you can expect a positive response.
Contractors – This is another must for contractors. People aren’t likely to “like” Performance Roofing because they saw a cool roof driving home from work. That type of fan base is reserved for big name companies who are more apparent to the average American. Thus, contractors have to fight to get new “likes” and one way to do it is to show you can offer value beyond the services you sell.
Advertising on Facebook
So far we have looked at marketing through social engagement and building a strong online presence. But what about paid advertising through Facebook? Unlike the aforementioned notes, this decision may not be so easy. There are several questions to first ask before you pursue a paid presence:
Is it worth it?
Many small businesses have found success with Facebook advertising because of the network’s unique ability to target extremely specific demographics of the advertiser’s choosing. However, unlike other ad sources like television or print, Facebook ads tend to be most successful when promoting soft offers rather than pushing hard for a sale. Thus, expect to focus on giveaways and discounts that get people to become a fan and “like” your page, so that you can convert those new followers into leads and sales down the line.
What’s the benefit?
When advertising with the social media giant, Facebook builds a list, just like when emailing or directly mailing your advertisements. However, as mentioned above, Facebook is able to build this list with spectacular precision, because of the unique data that Facebook collects. Also, Facebook ads can help generate word-of-mouth advertising because friends see the way other friends are interacting with their interests, which is something that other advertising mediums cannot do as effectively.
Contractors – Consider running your ad based on a suggested spike in demand. For example, at Performance Roofing, it would make the most sense to run a new ad right after heavy rains, when people need to get their holes patched and have roofing on the mind.
How effective are the ads?
Compared to advertising on Google (one of the most popular forms of online advertising) or other pay-per-click sites, Facebook has much less competition for keywords. Additionally, there is an increased sense of trust with ads on Facebook, because when users are logged into their profiles, they are in their comfort zone. This trust is a particularly important aspect of any advertising, and it is aided on Facebook by the fact that users can click on a business’s Facebook page in response to an ad and actually see what other users are saying about the business, which is not possible even with a company’s own website. Thus, ads on Facebook do offer great potential for effective advertising.
How much do Facebook ads cost?
Advertising on Facebook can vary wildly in cost depending on who you’re trying to target. Technically, Facebook ads can cost as little as ten dollars a day, but it’s recommended that you set aside several hundred dollars to get your feet wet and experiment with different types of ads, like images and landing pages. Decide which one works, and devote future resources to this approach.
We hope that this guide to Facebook has proven beneficial for your business. It was designed to help aid the tech-savvy small business, particularly contractors, to go beyond the obvious uses of Facebook and make the most of their online presence. Any questions or comments on the entry can be made, appropriately, on our Facebook page. While you’re there,“like” us and we’ll keep the content coming!
Thanks to Mashable for producing great content that helped make this entry possible!