How Small Business Owners Miss the Mark with Facebook

Anthony Kirlew President & Chief Strategist, AKA Internet Marketing

Posted on July 3rd 2011

How Small Business Owners Miss the Mark with Facebook

A question I am asked often by small business owners in my social media workshops is "how can I get lots of Facebook fans?" I go on to discuss the various recommended Facebook marketing strategies which include spending some money on Facebook ads. Many are not excited to hear that there is actually money involved in developing a strong social media presence, and much of this is due to the fact that they frequently hear "social media is free." The reality is that nothing is free, and at a minimum it will require your time which is time that could be spent serving clients or acquiring new ones. 

I am ok with small business owners wanting to be frugal; I get where they are coming from.  But here is what I do struggle with. On top of wanting to not spend money, I also often hear that these business owners don't want to connect with or solicit their friends and family.  What???  For some odd reason people feel that they are somehow imposing too much to ask their friends and family to connect to their business or share information about what they do via social media. My argument is that if these people really have your best interest in mind, they will want to help you. Furthermore, they may not really know the full scope of what you do until you connect with them and share information with them about what you do.

Please know that I am not talking about spamming people, abusing tagging functions or anything considered even remotely shady. What I am talking about is educating, informing, and influencing those who already know, like and trust you. Your friends will often be your biggest advocates online and offline. They are more likely to share your content that they find appealing because they are in your corner. And yes, it all has to be done with balance as you do not want to overwhelm your Facebook friends with posts that seem all too self serving.

A simple 3-part strategy I would recommend is:

1. Invite your friends and family to "like" your Facebook Business Fan Page. I will assume that you are using some sort of email capture with a splash page on your Fan page. If not, it's a nice way to convert fans to email subscribers.

2. Post links on your personal profile that will educae, inform, and influence your friends and family. Ideally, there would include blog posts that you have written, and press mentions (the press mentions will really "wow" people because so few know how to get them).

3. Using Facebook events and invite your friends and family to your business events that they may be interested in. This has been vey profitable for me. I simply create an event for any professional engagement that I am involved in. They key here is to not send too many, too often, or untargeted. I would not send an email to someone in Maryland (where I grew up and have many contacts) about a Chamber of Commerce event in Arizona (where I now live).

It's great to use social media to connect with new prospects (virtual strangers), but remember they still have to get to "know, like, and trust" you before those connections will turn into business. Why not start with those who are already on your side?

Here are few examples of how this has worked for me.

  • I posted a simple link on my personal Facebook profile to a website and said "hey, if anyone is interested in this let me know." A friend responded saying he was just talking to someone and she needed the service being mentioned. I got her contact info and she became a client.
  • I created a Facebook Event for a social media workshop I was doing at my local Chamber of Commerce. I shared it with my friends and one responded asking if I was open to speaking for other gorups and it led to another paid speaking opportunity, which led to another though a contact that was in the audience. 
  • On more than one occasion, I have posted special offers from my Internet Marketing Company that have led to clients engagements and referrals from friends.

If you've been on the fence about connecting with your personal sphere of influence on Facebook as it relates to your business, I hope this helps push you over the top.  In fact, I'd love to hear how it works for you.


Anthony Kirlew

President & Chief Strategist, AKA Internet Marketing

Anthony Kirlew is an 14 year veteran of Internet Marketing & Social Media, Anthony has founded 3 Internet Marketing Firms, and has worked for some of the most trusted companies in the digital space including, TheKnot, and Currently, he runs AKA Internet Marketing, a full service Internet Marketing and Social Media Consulting Firm. Anthony is also a regular speaker & trainer on Internet and social media topics and is available to speak through the US.

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Posted on July 3rd 2011 at 4:40PM

Great article! We are developing fan pages for small businesses in Portland, Oregon, And those are some of the biggest issues for small business owners. But once they see the value and fun of connecting with their customers and telling their story, they're all in. 

Posted on July 3rd 2011 at 6:20PM

Good advice Anthony. I agree with your comment about spending money on social media. You don' t have to spend a fortune but well written and keyword targeted FB ads have worked wonders for many of my clients.

Posted on July 3rd 2011 at 9:31PM

I like the fact you bring up that small business owners are often passive in their social media strategies. Educate, educate. Good job. I also would like to see a discussion on the value of organic vs. paid fan-increasing strategies. Paying for fans via ads is okay, but my guess is they aren't as invested as organic fans brought in via old fashioned engagement strategies. Any thoughts?

Posted on July 4th 2011 at 2:08AM

I agree with you, Jennifer. Though we can connect to many people using social media still we need to build good and trustworthy relationship among of them. Then eventually, those people (audience) will turn to customers. And of course great branding techniques should be considered also in social media. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and ideas here.

Posted on July 4th 2011 at 2:10AM

Jennifer, I agree, it's fun to watch people make that transition (from skeptic to advocate). Thanks for your positive feedback!

Posted on July 4th 2011 at 12:20PM

Posting your Facebook link to someone's websites? You will be considered as spammer if continuously to that. Glad you have generated a client by doing that.

Posted on July 4th 2011 at 6:26PM

@ BrianL - It's all about testing (for the small business). Some businesses will do better than others. Glad to hear you've had success with that. I am sure your client appreciate it.

@ cksyme - RE: Ads vs. Organic. - Yes, someone can click an ad opportunitisally, but it doesn't mean they will ultimately like what they see, or stay connected to the brand. On the other hand, if someone engages with a company's FB page due to a positive experience, they will likely say engaged and even better, help promote the brand with "likes and shares."



Posted on July 5th 2011 at 1:57PM

@Savvybizbuilder - You misread what I wrote. I said "I posted a simple link on my personal Facebook profile." Meaning that in my status update (communicating with my personal friends), I linked to a website that offered a service and one of my friends commented, which led to a sale. I hope that clarifies things for you.

I stay far away from spam; in fact, I was an expert witness for the State of MD in the crafting of their anti-spam legislation - meaning that I lobby hard against it which is why I would not want anyone to be confused and think I was condoning it.

Posted on July 6th 2011 at 3:28AM

The transparency we have online now is a reality to be reckoned with.  It's natural that people are edgy about spam, especially when we have more and more ways for spam to intrude on our lives.  It goes both ways: if I wanted to, I could go on Facebook or Foursquare and see what people I have not seen since high school are having for breakfast, or where they are buying their lawn care products.  Why is it any less appropriate to let those who follow me know that I'm giving a presentation or that I am proud of the new service my business built for a client?

I think anything is game, if it's done well.  To be done well it must be relevant, respectful, hopefully interesting to someone besides myself and not take undue advantage of the access someone gives us by following vie Social Media.


Posted on July 9th 2011 at 9:56PM

Great post you have here.  I think an extremely important point you make is that small business social media really does begin at the expertise of the owner.  The best social media strategies include the thoughts, opinions, and expertise of the owner and their experiences.  Likewise, small business owners should educate themselves or hire a team of professionals to ensure that the tactics for disseminating this information are the most effective.

Posted on July 11th 2011 at 6:18PM

This is great and all but what if you're more a B2B business... 99.9% of my family/friends aren't big decision makers or even key influencers for my market. I don't really see how this could pertain more to the B2B niches....

Posted on July 16th 2011 at 12:34AM

@ Elizabeth A - Your second paragraph summed it up well. Thanks!

@ Rachel G - First, my point is that it's the best place to start and that we should not overlook it. It's about brand awareness as much as conversations and you are sure to touch on topcics that your personal contacts have some remote interest in.  Secondly, you rmight be surprised to see the connections that your friends and family do have.


Posted on August 11th 2011 at 6:43AM

I'm also someone who is reluctant to invite family and close friends to my Facebook pages. As you have mentioned I do feel like it is an unnecessary burden for them. But I guess there is no harm in inviting them and letting them intereact with my pages. Will give that idea a try.