Here’s what no one in the social media space seems to want to say: Facebook is a difficult place to reach new eyeballs organically if you do not already have good brand awareness.
There I said it. If you are trying to use Facebook to reach a new audience, organically (i.e. without paying for Ads), from scratch – you are facing an uphill battle.
Yes, the stats on how many Facebook users exist are mind-boggling. In reality most of those people will never actually encounter your brand on Facebook, unless you pay good money for them to. How many small business pages do you know that actually have millions of ‘fans’?
The fact is that Facebook is in the business of earning revenue – mostly through the ads they get page owners to buy. So for that reason they deliberately make it challenging to grow a page organically. So unless you have a strong personal Facebook network of friends that you are willing to leverage on behalf of your business page, you are looking at an uphill battle in actually reaching brand new eyeballs.
So Where Does Facebook Fit Into Your Strategy?Surveys show that people generally fan pages they are already customers of, and usually for discounts. The same research shows that few people are interested in joining a page to become part of a community.
1. I suggest that you use Facebook to connect with your existing customers AFTER they’ve already bought from you – rather than trying to use Facebook to mine for leads. This is the path of least resistance. Since they already know you, they are more likely to interact with your page – crucial for organic growth on Facebook.
2. Use other methods (SEO, PPC, blogging, offline methods etc) to bring in prospects, generate leads and make sales.
3. The time you might spend slugging away on Facebook could be better spent growing your following and brand visibility elsewhere – preferably on platforms you own, such as your blog, and developing other marketing channels (even tweeting gives you better access to a new audience). Your Facebook page can be a resource to direct people to for promotions and additional interaction after they discover you elsewhere.
4. Examine your online sales process and work with your offline sales staff to integrate a way to ask the prospect or customer what social networks they are on. Build fields for this data into your online contact forms and if you have an offline sales staff you will have to work with them to collect that info when talking with prospect and clients.
5. Make someone on your staff responsible for finding these people on Facebook, connecting with them and inviting them to your Page. This will actually require the use of a personal profile since you cannot message anyone directly through a Page.
6. Find a place in the sales/follow-up process to let your customer know that your company has a Facebook page and give them reasons why they should become a fan. As per the research above -the incentive should probably emphasize exclusive discounts and promotions.
7. Consider Facebook as a tool in your ‘referral engine’ – if your Fans are happy customers, Facebook makes it easy for them to recommend you to friends and to provide your business with ‘social proof’ i.e. people saying nice things about you. This is where you have the opportunity to organically grow your audience, powered by happy customers.
8. Make sure you feed your Page with the right content for your audience. You probably know the needs of your customers pretty well, but check in with your Facebook Insights to make sure you are catering to the correct demographic audience, and to the type of content that elicits interaction, especially as your audience grows beyond your familiar customer base.
How has your small business successfully used Facebook for marketing?