Many small businesses find a Facebook page is the cheapest way to get a digital presence. It’s free, easy to set up and you can instantly connect with your customers — even those without a Facebook account.
It pays to stay up to date with new features and best practice. Here’s how to get the most out of your page.
Facebook offers huge opportunities for the country’s small businesses. Most New Zealand Facebook users find brands and products on the site and more than half engage with brands to learn more about them, according to a 2015 Nielsen survey.
Some businesses use their Facebook page as a stepping stone to getting their own website. For others, the social media site more than meets their needs.
What you can do
Facebook offers key features that are ideal for small businesses. Like most business websites, you can tell customers who you are, what you do and how to get in touch.
You can also set up clickable buttons to let customers:
A new feature currently only available on Facebook’s mobile app is Marketplace, which you can use to buy and sell products. It’s not aimed specifically at small businesses, but you can still use it to:
Watch out for a desktop computer version that may be more suited to your business.
Content you’ve created yourself is a proven winner with customers, especially videos. They’re a great way to show customers who you are, what you do and how you do it.
Keep videos short and sweet. They don’t have to be Oscar-worthy short movies. Many smartphones and tablets have apps that make editing a video a quick and painless exercise.
Adding new ones regularly helps build your audience.
Wholefoods business The Kitchen has embraced Facebook as a tool to spread the word and engage its growing customer base. It opened a café in Nelson’s CBD mid-2016, where it runs workshops and cooking classes.
“Having a Facebook page was simply the easiest way for us to build anticipation before opening and share locally to raise brand awareness,” says general manager Grant Maxwell. “We solely relied on this and word of mouth — and it worked great!”
The Kitchen plans to grow, and Facebook is a key part of those plans.
“We now use Facebook as a tool for local engagement primarily, running promotions and letting people know what’s going on at The Kitchen,” says Maxwell.
They don’t take bookings through Facebook, but customers can use their page to join a loyalty programme and post reviews.
Also popular are photos of what’s on the menu and playful videos shot on-site. “We’ll be adding much more video as this is what is engaging for customers,” says Maxwell.
There are no complicated systems to work out before you put something on your page. Write it and click — your words are online for all to see.
That can be great if you want to make a quick change, eg update your Christmas hours or showcase a special offer.
But it pays to double-check the details. One wrong digit on your contact number and your phone could stop ringing. Get someone with an eye for detail to look over important information on your page.
Missed messages: If you encourage customers to engage with you on your Facebook page, make sure someone keeps an eye on it. This could be you, or a trusted staff member. People love talking directly to businesses, but expect almost instant replies to their questions. If you delay, you could end up losing customers.
Losing it: Customer complaints come through loud and clear on social media. If you overreact, you risk your reaction becoming the day’s big story. Be clear, concise and polite in your replies. If the customer is wrong, social media is not the place to point that out.