Sunday, May 18, 2014

Using Facebook For Marketing Your Local Business

Back in the earlier days of the Internet, having a well-positioned static informational web site was good enough for your local business to have some degree of success. So many business owners had their kid or someone they knew throw together a website 3, 5 even 10 years ago and they haven't paid any mind since. These local business owners are leaving a lot of money on the table by simply not keeping up with the times. Nowadays, not only does your website have to be engaging, but having just a website simply isn't enough anymore. 

In order to be successful either online or off, you need to get your brand in front of as many people as possible and keep it in front of them in order to earn their business either new or repeat. When it comes to building your brand online, this means "setting up tables" where people are hanging out. The number one visited site in the world in 2010 was Facebook. This is definitely the place where people are hanging out online. 

With over 600 million users worldwide and growing, 50% of which log-in on any given day, it is important as a business owner that you grasp the magnitude of this social media powerhouse and how using Facebook for marketing can help you grow your business. Not only do people go there to connect with friends and family, they also go to interact with businesses both large and small. This presents an opportunity for local business owners to build relationships with prospects and deepen relationships with existing customers. Social media sites in general can be viewed as extensions of your website and give you another place to get found so people can learn about your products and/or services. 

Over two million websites have integrated with Facebook and the sites feed traffic to one another. The greatest challenge for most business owners is they simply lack the time and/or expertise to put together an effective Facebook marketing strategy. For those business owners that take a more proactive approach, consistency often becomes an issue. A big mistake most business owners new to social media often make is to simply post links and offers to "buy my stuff." With social media, buying comes after relationships are built, generally not before. 

So how are quality relationships build? First step is to create a plan. This includes the frequency of posts as well as the type of content shared. You want to post content that add value to people's lives. This includes videos, article and blog posts that educate your consumer and position you as an expert in your field. This may include Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's), tips, how-to's and more. Even third part content is great as long as you know it will appeal to your audience. Pictures, coupons, offers, promotions and testimonials can also be shared. 

Testimonials in particular are extremely important and you should encourage your customers to share the experiences they've had with your company on your Facebook wall. Not only will the visitors to your page see the comment, but it will also show up in the news feed of the poster, so all their friends will see it as well. 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations frequently taking action based on the experiences their friends and followers had with various products and services. It's called social proof and shows credibility so that new consumers can make purchase decisions with confidence based on a friend's good word. 

Another great way to get people to interact with you is to post questions. You can also create engaging campaigns such as polls, contests, sweepstakes and product giveaways. Getting your fans to engage and communicate with you can give you valuable insights into what your customers like and dislike providing useful market research. There are professional social media marketing consultants that can help you in all facets of managing your Facebook business presence. 

This includes optimizing the page, creating the marketing plan, the content, promotions and the day-to-day dialogue to keep your fans engaged. This leaves you to do what you do best and that's running your business. The important thing is to get out and create your Facebook business page and start building your presence. Whether you've already created your page or need one created, it's time to get serious about leveraging the most trafficked site in the world.

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