How to use a Facebook page to help your business get online
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Use Facebook to help your business get online

Whatever size or shape your business is, from local butchers, to sole traders, pubs, plumbers, hairdressers and window cleaners, potential customers are searching for your business online. If you want more business to walk through your door, you’re missing a big trick if you’re not online. Research shows that more than half the people in the UK do not trust a business without a website. Let’s suppose you run a hairdressing salon. Before booking, most people generally want to find out about your services, prices, location and any expertise you might have. Because a new haircut can either make you or break you it’s also comforting for new customers to read online reviews left by satisfied customers or even see pictures of the salon and great hairstyles. At the initial phases it is best to start a Facebook page as it provides a free, visible place to actively engage clients. Engagement increases loyalty and in turn loyalty increases revenue. Here are some simple rules for taking your first steps online and setting up a Facebook page.

Tips for getting started with Facebook

1. Page versus personal First off, assuming you have a personal profile already, go to the arrow down icon after the padlock on the Facebook toolbar and hit ‘Create Page’. Make sure you set up a business page and not a personal page. You will be given this option when you first go to create your page and for a local business, click on the ‘Local business’ icon. It’s against Facebook rules to set up a business page on a personal page, but more importantly the business template offers many more relevant features. These include:

Custom tabs (sub pages) including online booking Post promotions Offers and polls

That’s it. Fill in the template by following Facebook’s instructions and then get your friends and customers to follow and like your page.

2. Increasing your followers

You can start to drum up new business simply by having conversations on your Facebook page and posting comments. If your posts are friendly, enlightening and informative, or you are offering some kind of promotion or deal, people will begin to talk back to you and this is the first stage of valuable online engagement. Benefits of engagement include:

The friends of your regular customers (your future clients) are listening in Your business’s profile is raised Your business’ brand values are highlighted

3. Demonstrating value to clients There are many subtle ways you can show off your business and demonstrate the value of what you do to customers and future customers. Avoid hard sell and aim to blend in with the conversations that are already happening. Add pictures and video clips of your products or services in action, but in a way that will enthuse, amuse or interest people. If you are a plumber for example, how about showing before and after pictures of a revamped bathroom, or even using a timelapse video of yourself at work to demonstrate the process involved and how you are solving problems quickly and professionally. However, a word of warning. Don’t be funny for the sake of it. It has to be relevant to your business or service rather than an out-of-the-blue joke you’ve just heard.

4. Increasing engagement Once you have good engagement levels on your Facebook page, start implementing ideas that will raise the stakes a bit higher and invite participation. Running a poll is a good way to do this. Perhaps ask customers to name their favourite type of product or service. If you’re a baker, perhaps do a fun poll asking how often customers treat themselves to a cream cake or a sausage roll, and then comment on the results, maybe offering a sausage roll to the first five customers to come by your shop and mention the poll. The more comments you get, the more engagement ensues and the more exposure your business is getting. If your customers grow to love you more and enjoy the content on your page, the more likely they are to share the link to your page with their friends, who will then share it with their friends and so on.

5. Strategic planning Once you start to see the results of your online labour and new business is coming through your door on a regular basis, start to take stock and do a little more strategic planning. First take a look at what your competitors are doing, start reading trends pieces online about your business or industry and comment on the latest news. This way you are seen as ahead of the curve and the person to bring new news and ideas to your readers which will demonstrate your passion and commitment to your business. Once you become a pro at this, you can use Facebook’s schedule tools to line posts up to publish in the future. Time them to appear in the evening when Facebook is busiest, or to coincide with a show or event that is happening in your industry.

6. Boosting your business with promotions Advertising no longer costs a fortune and with a couple of clever tools on Facebook you can get in touch with thousands of potential new customers for less than five pounds! Promoted posts: If a post is getting lots of likes and engagement, consider promoting it. Once you have more than 100 followers and you’ve added a payment card to your Facebook account the option to ‘boost post’ will appear.

This option pushes your message to more of your followers and all of their friends, so with one small click of a mouse you could be getting word about your business in front of thousands of people. Alternatively try a customer offer using the Facebook tool. Facebook lets your followers and their friends snap up and redeem special offers via its dedicated tool in the status update bar. Options include redeeming in-store only, so this can be easily used to push promotions and therefore people directly to your shop or business premise. There are a wealth of tools to help you set up an online presence. However, it is possible to start small with a Facebook page for a local business.

Setting up a complementary website is also a great business strategy as you can drive your customers on Facebook over to your more commercial website page, which gives them the option to purchase your products online. There are many templates available to set up a website and anyone at any skill level can build a fully-functional website with a Squarespace template or similar, which allows you to simply drag and drop images and text into it and then publish your website. Website hosting is now easy on any budget and can cost as little as £2.50 per month.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Xero .

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