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Why Local Businesses Should Stop Focusing On Their Facebook Page

All too often we see local businesses spend way too much time crafting their Facebook pages and trying to force engagement. Even if it does happen, it's not the best way to spend their social media time. They have an advantage over big brands: touching the people.

Bobs Barbeque

When Omahama Bob first started using Facebook to help market their local business, they put in a lot of effort to build up their "likes", create engagement on the page, add pictures of patrons, and turn it into a resource for their business. They have been more successful than most, creating posts that people liked and getting some comments.

They have done everything very well when viewed through the lens of a Facebook guru or social media marketing effort. The only challenge is that it hasn't actually helped to increase business.

What went wrong?

Local businesses are faced with the challenge of trying to hyper-target their messages to a local audience while still picking up enough steam from the broader Facebook community to bump up engagement and improve their Edge Rank. The problem that they often have is that this takes time both on Facebook and in real life.

Big brands have the advantage when it comes to mass attention. People are listening, liking, and engaging. For local businesses, it's a struggle.

What they don't realize is that they're not using their time and efforts for the most rewarding component of localized social media. The advantage that small businesses have over big businesses is the personal attention to the customers that gives them the opportunity to dramatically amplify their brand messaging. All they have to do is ask.

It's Not What You Say About Yourself...

People listen to other people. It's that simple. They have become almost immune to the messages that are being sent out by businesses, particularly on social media. They skip over it, block it, ignore it, report it, or whatever else they can think of doing to get the brands out of their face even if they were the ones who liked the page in the first place.

They will listen to their friends and family on Facebook. Why aren't more local businesses using this to their advantage? It's a matter of asking. That's all it takes. The messages sent out by people at the place of business mean everything and will be seen by more local people than anything a business does on their own page.

In the case of a barbeque joint like Bob's, this should be easy. Servers walk up to every table and ask, "How was everything?"

At this point, they'll get good, bad, or lukewarm feedback. Whenever they get good feedback, it's time to apply social media to the equation. "I'm glad you liked it! If you're on Facebook and you have your smartphone with you, I can offer you a free slice of apple pie if you'll let your Facebook friends know you're here."

Who can say no to that? Well, a lot of people will say no, actually, normally because they're full, they're not on Facebook, or they don't want to tell people that they just ate barbeque... but some won't. Some will love the idea. Some will pull out their smartphones immediately.

When they do, the server should ask, "Would you like me to take a picture of you guys to post on Facebook?"

You get the picture (hopefully).

That single activity will get more attention, feedback, branding, interest, questions, and most importantly new customers than any other activity a local business could do on Facebook.

It's bold. It's aggressive. It's risky. It's also extremely rewarding when done right. A slice of apple pie costs dimes. A new customer, particularly one who can eventually become a loyal regular visitor, is worth a lot more than the gumption it took to put in the practice and the extra apple pies you're going to have to keep in stock.

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+JD Rucker is President of Hasai, Inc, a Social Media Firm, Director of New Media for KPA, an Automotive SEO firm, and Editor at Soshable, a Social Media Marketing Blog. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

Join The Conversation

  • mikehays's picture
    May 1 Posted 5 years ago mikehays

    JD, I respectfull disagree with you. The main reason local businesses fail at Facebook marketing is because they try to sell, sell, sell. They don't realize as you said it's not about them.

    Facebook is about building an engaged community of clients and customers around their brand. The better they understand this the less likely they'll ever have to discount their products and services.

    Businesses that understand and embrace social media will have a decisive strategic advantage over their competition. Having a good strategy that is in alignment with your business objectives can provide the company with instant feedback, reputation management, brand awareness and trends in their market all for a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing. Not to mention the word-of-mouth benefits and the amount of reach this platform provides.

    The other disadvantage of local businesses is many will use a staff member to post updates and manage their Facebook pages. The irony is you would never have your secretary create a TV commercial or do a radio ad. The thought process is they have been using a personal Facebook page to communicate with their friends so why not use them for your business. A business page is not the same as a personal page.

    The biggest advantage big brands have over local businesses is they have experts managing their social media campaigns. In some case an entire team of social media experts. This doesn't mean that local businesses can't compete. When you compare the cost of social media to traditional marketing, a well planned out social media strategy is much less expensive.

  • QSpike's picture
    Apr 30 Posted 5 years ago QSpike

    Great article. Too often people look at Social Media as just another marketing channel. It's all about engagement! Get your happy patrons talking about you. And you can't expect them to do it without asking them ... It's amazing what happens when you simply ask.

  • Apr 29 Posted 5 years ago strato

    You are right on!  Face book has confused so many Boomers on  what Social Media is and how it can help them grow Biz. In the hospitality business (hotels) review sites that reach the world is very effective. Yet most general managers are clueless to this free but impactful tool. So many hotels have not tried to understand this media form.  Most are resistant to learning about it, almost as if they are givene a hall pass since it did not come up in thier generation.


  • tom crawshaw's picture
    Apr 27 Posted 5 years ago tom crawshaw

    I completely agree with your here JD.  I have helped many local businesess with their Facebook marketing and most don't quite understand the link between online and offline.  There is only so much you can do on the Fan Page itself, if nothing changes in-store that it's very difficult to actually show at rerturn on their investment.

    This is something I make a BIG deal of when visiting local businesses and will continue to do so until they get it right! 

    Great post :) 

  • learnit2earnit's picture
    Apr 24 Posted 5 years ago learnit2earnit

    Great article JD!  This is the kind of forward thinking small business owners must grasp.  Think of how the consumer feels, wants and needs will be key.  Social media is just the tool in getting the message out there.  You offer an excellent example of how this can be accomplished.

    A Facebook Fan Page is still required, however, as you say, spending that much time and effort on putting up the perfect posts, articles or images is not going to equate to increased sales.  When you have people sharing your information, that is when your visibility goes up, you build confidence and even trust, if your customers family and friends are sharing good things about you, your products or services.

  • Apr 23 Posted 5 years ago Reson8_NZ

    I really liked this piece, thank you. Many businesses don't seem to get the fact that people don't like being sold to 24/7. Morever, they dont realise that social media becomes much more effective when you can meld the online/offline experience. E.G. - When they do, the server should ask, "Would you like me to take a picture of you guys to post on Facebook?"

  • Apr 23 Posted 5 years ago WhiteDown

    I think that we're just at the start of the social age so a lot of companies are just learning how to proceed with social media. I definitely agree that asking things like customers to take and share picture is a great overall strategy. I understand the obsession around getting more likes, but there's more to Facebook than just getting likes, its about overall activity, presentation, and engagement. The reason that so many brands are struggling with converting fans to actual activity and sales is that they don't really get social media. Too many companies are of the mindset that all they really have to do to succeed is set up a Facebook page, throw a few bucks into Facebook ads, maybe use one of the types of companies at and that will just automatically catapult them to success. Things don't work out that way online. They have to be able to offer something to people that they value and listen to their customers. This is the best way to achieve long-term success. The additional factor here is that while Facebook offers features to increase engagement, those features are really only designed to increase engagement on Facebook pages themselves. You have to go out and offer people something of value on Facebook to really find a way to get success.

  • Apr 23 Posted 5 years ago kailynharris

    I Agree with this Article because i do not believe that personal life situations should be involved on a social site. Facebook is a website with pletny of access to have other people info in the open, me personally do not use it for personal info with so many scams, people should be aware that any kind of website can subscribe info.

  • M.Atif Yaseen's picture
    Apr 23 Posted 5 years ago M.Atif Yaseen

    Agree to this. there is only trend of getting likes on FB that may be not a good choice. Business need more utilization of Social Media for engagement.

  • Apr 23 Posted 5 years ago Maz Aziz

    I quite agree with this topic because I was confused about the role after we register as a paying customer to attract customers.After one year of being linked to my blogspot,I received 7,500 hits business.Maybe one or two enquiries.In the first place the potential customers must have some reason to  want to know more about what we offer,our niche, and why we should be considered as a good supplier.

    I concentrated in changing Offers,packages and attractions to capture a potential customer.Still no result.By spending too much time on FB response, I have neglected on other openings & possible buyers.What should I do?


  • Apr 22 Posted 5 years ago danielrichman

    I'd have to agree with the post, engagement does not always equal response. The question still stands, what does? What does it take for someone to "click-through"? I'd say the first step would be $, the almighty dollar. Those empty promises that "this much" will bring you "this far". I'm seeing most of my conversation happen in Groups that I frequent. I won't "stop focusing" on my page, but I will spend more time on different networks trying to get someone, somewhere to speak up. 

  • LindaSherman's picture
    Apr 22 Posted 5 years ago LindaSherman

    I very much agree with the at the table interaction. For Instagram, the servers should all know the Twitter address of the establishment in case someone is taking photos of food and wants easy help to mention through Twitter. 

    To me, it is very unfortunate that Timeline for Pages puts updates from fans into a tiny out of the way box where they will barely be seen. It's such a gift when a fan posts a photo of themselves at your establishment but though it will boost edgerank, it is almost invisible on the Page.

  • Apr 22 Posted 5 years ago Marty Ercoline

    I agree with the actual application of social media, whichever channel is selected. in a strategic/skillfull manner within the confines of the store.  However, the 'pull' mechanism of E2.0 must be fed somehow and to simply ignore FB as a way to feed he 'pull' would be, IMO, a disaster. There is nothing more disenchanting than when I get a pull from groupon, or FB for a store that looks interesting, then I hit their FB page and its deserted.  Nothing connections, nothing current, no real 'social chatter' to be seen/read.  It makes me instantly not want to go to that store and do any business.  Social Media has become for most, the 'main street' window walk that our parents used to take when they shopped.  We buy and shop very differently and the FB pages need to feed the E2.0 engine or the 'pull' factor for all social consumers dies quickly.  So, I say small businesses need FB pages more than ever and needto tie the social experience into the store operations as well....its both.

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