6 Tips to Take Your Local Business to the Next Level with Facebook
So you have a local business, you don't need to advertise online right? I mean, your business is in town, people talk about it, people know about it. If you're going to advertise you might as well just put another ad in the local paper, right?
WRONG! If you have a local business, or even a national, international, or online business that has a local aspect, you are missing out on a tremendous opportunity to grow if you are not making the most of targeted local online advertising. How do I know this is the case?
How about because 70% of US households use the internet as an information source when shopping locally (The Kelsey Group). More and more people are looking to the internet, rather than the traditional media sources for information, recommendations, and reviews of local businesses.
On top of that, people are spending ever increasing amounts of time on the internet - so you might as well greet them where they spend their time.
And where exactly should you advertise you might ask? Well, the two real choices are Google and Facebook.
While Google Adwords offers the luxury of targeting people who search specifically for your keyword (for example, "Pizza in Highland Park, NJ"), that is the only person that will be targeted. Anyone not searching within your keywords will not be exposed to your brand.
Facebook on the other hand provides a cheap (and partially free) medium to reach your potential customers on a much broader scale.
So let's take a look at 6 ways that you can advertise your local business on Facebook!
Make a Facebook Page!
Before we get started, there is a prerequisite to this all - making a Facebook page. This is pretty obvious, I know, but still, I just needed to say, if you don't have a Facebook page yet please visit Facebook for Business and join the rest of us in the 21st century.
All joking aside, I'm sure that there are many people out there though who have a Facebook page, but don't understand the benefits that it can provide their business. Having a page for your business means that your business can be discovered by anyone on Facebook.
Even without your doing anything, someone can stumble upon your page via a graph search, a reference from a friend, or by seeing an interaction that a friend of theirs had with you on Facebook in their news feed. That's already a lot of potential for exposure before you even did anything just by having a page!
Now, once you have your page, you want to do everything in your power to ensure that as many people as possible will discover your page.
1. Optimize Your Page for the Graph Search
The graph search, introduced by Facebook in March of 2013, puts a clever twist on the standard search engine. Rather than relying solely on crawlers and indexes, Facebook uses its vast network of business and personal pages, and all of its users' likes and interests to provide search results.
So if you are looking for Pizza in Highland Park, New Jersey you will see this:
Which will then take you to a page with all of the relevant businesses:
Now you see why having a Facebook page can greatly increase your chances of being discovered. Any time someone is looking for something, they can type in what kind of business they need and in what location, and poof! Facebook provides the answers. And trust me, people are searching on Facebook all the time. According to Mark Zuckerberg there are more than 1 billion Facebook searches per day!
So how do you make sure that your business page is getting the most out of the graph search? Follow these steps:
1. Choose your category and subcategories wisely. To do this, go to the "About" section of your page and click on "Edit" next to "Basic info." You should start by choosing "Local Business" for your category, and then choose your specific type of business from the list. Next go to subcategories, where you can choose up to three things.
Be sure to pick things that relate directly to your business, but at the same time try to cover as many bases as possible so that you can show up in more searches.
2. Fill out your entire profile using keywords. This is pretty self-explanatory. Just like with regular search engines, keywords are always important for identifying your page and boosting it in search results.
3. Make sure your location is listed correctly. Most Facebook searches have to do with location, and as a local business, your location is key to being discovered. If you want your business to show up in searches for "_____ type of business near ______ town" then you had better be sure that your address is on your Facebook page, and that it is put in correctly.
4. Get more likes and check-ins. We'll return to both of these later on, but the general idea is that you want your page to have as many people liking it and checking in to it from your physical store as possible.
Once you've done these things, your goal is to keep growing. The larger and more influential your Facebook page is, the more likely it is that your page will be discovered.
2. Build a Community for Your Page
You have a local business. What does any local business pride itself on? Of course on its sense of community. Being part of the town. Local business owners know their customers and have relationships with them. The same should be true on Facebook.
When you start your business page you should look for relevant people to connect with. Start by thinking of your loyal customers (that you are probably already personally friends with on Facebook) and ask them to like your page.
If you want to get a bit more advanced, you can also do a Facebook search for people in your area who are interested in something related to your business. For example:
You can look at this list and invite people who you think will be relevant.
Next you should build up your presence with your local community's Facebook community. Join all of the local groups whether that be business groups or just community advice groups.
Be active in these groups, but not self-promotional. Meaning, offer help or advice when you can, but don't feel the need to comment on everything, or, more importantly, to post frequently about your own business. (Not to mention that doing that will probably get you kicked out of the group).
As you become more and more active and increase your circle on Facebook you will also increase awareness. By commenting in groups, people who may not have heard of you will now see your page. On top of that, people will begin to reference your page in response to questions or in recommendations which will further increase the new traffic coming to your page.
3. Encourage Engagement on Your Page
One of the most powerful tools Facebook provides for your business page is the fact that any time one of your fans interacts with your page, that interaction can be seen by that fan's friends on their news feeds. Meaning new exposure for your business page. Since this is the case, you should strive to take full advantage of this feature by engaging with your fans and encouraging their engagement in return.
There are many great ways of getting your fans to interact with you. You can:
- Post interesting articles (relevant to your business)
- Ask questions
- Post funny, interesting, or eye-catching photos
- Host photo or comment competitions
Any time someone interacts with you on one of these points, it's another point scored for you and your business.
Another great way to gain interaction and exposure is through the use of offers. Facebook gives business pages the ability to give redeemable offers to their fans. Each time one of your fans redeems an offer it shows up on that fan's friend's news feeds.
Review and Check-in
By far two of the best innovations Facebook has made for business pages are the review and check-in features.
These features stand separately from the standard engagement with your page. Rather than passively being mentioned on a friend of a fan's news feed as would be the case with normal engagement (for example: John wrote on Highland Park Hardware's Facebook wall), with reviews and check-ins your page actually gets a positive boost in addition to the exposure it receives.
Try to get as many reviews and check-ins as possible by providing incentives both online and in your brick-and-mortar store. You can leverage Facebook offers, by giving them in exchange for a review or check-in.
As engagement with your page increases so will the organic exposure of your business page. As you gain more positive reviews and check-ins the people that find your business page will be more likely to trust you and become your customer.
4. Don't Forget About Mobile
For local businesses in particular, Facebook mobile is especially important because people often search for things when they're on the go. According to a study done by Google back in 2011, not only have 95% of smartphone users searched for local information on their phones, but 88% of these people took action within the next day. And that was in 2011! Imagine what the numbers are like now.
In addition, Facebook recently added its graph search to the mobile app, meaning it is now easier to find local businesses from the mobile search.
What does this mean for you? It means that you have to know what your Facebook page looks like on mobile, and you need to optimize it in order to be sure that everything is as good as possible.
Let's go through how a page looks on Facebook and what you can do to optimize it.
1. Profile and banner pictures. Unlike on a regular Facebook Page, the profile and banner pictures are the first and, more or less, only thing that a mobile visitor will see when they first enter your page.
That being the case, you want to make sure you have good pictures for both of these and that they work well together. I suggest using something bright for the banner image so that it will be very attention grabbing.
2. Location and store info. The second thing visitors will see when scrolling down is the location and info about your business.
This is important because people searching on the go want to know how close they are to the business, if the business is open, and what the general prices are in order for them to be able to make a quick decision.
As mentioned earlier, be sure that your location is on your page correctly. You want people to be able to find your business easily. In addition, you should supply as much information as possible in order to assist your page visitors in their decision.
3. Ratings and Check-ins. We already discussed the importance of these two features, but I'd like to reiterate it here, because they have even more importance on mobile. Once someone has seen where the business is and what the hours are, the next thing they will want to know is if the business is reliable or not. The more reviews and check-ins you have, the better shot you have at being deemed reliable.
4. Page posts. The last, and least important part of your mobile page are your posts. By the time the mobile visitor reaches this they should have already made up their mind about your business. Either way, just in case they haven't, as always, have good content posted!
As you can see, the Facebook mobile business page, unlike the regular page, is less focused on interaction through posts, and more focused on giving the page visitors a step by step look at your business to help them make a decision. Remember this so that you can optimize your mobile page in order to help them along the way.
5. Pay for Some Ads!
Now that we've gone over the free and organic ways that you can boost your presence and be more discoverable let's talk about the paid option - Facebook ads.
Facebook ads aren't like your standard online ad, or even like taking an ad out in a local paper. They're much, much better!
For starters, a Facebook ad is significantly cheaper than other ads, as you can start with a daily budget as low as $1 and still be able to reach 4,000 people per day! For an ad in the local paper you could be looking at anything between a few dollars to $50.
The second advantage of Facebook ads are their ridiculously amazing targeting features. When you run an ad in a newspaper there's no way of knowing whether or not your ad will be relevant to most of the readers. Sure you can put an ad in an appropriate newspaper or magazine, but who knows who will end up reading it?
With Facebook on the other hand, you can target exactly who you want to see your ad. Let's take a look at how to do that:
1. Pick a goal. The very first thing you need to do when making an ad is to decide what your goal is.
The best types of ads for local businesses are:
- Page Likes - This type of ad will help you to build up your community by getting more likes for your page. This will help you to increase your organic reach as well.
- Page Post Engagement - This type of ad will help you to increase engagement on a particular post. For example, if you post about a sale and you want more people to know about it, you can use this ad to boost its exposure and to get more engagement which will lead to organic exposure as well.
- Offer Claims - This type of ad will help you to promote a redeemable Facebook offer, like we discussed earlier in the post.
2. Set up your targeting. This is the beautiful part of Facebook ads. You can now set up your ad to target the exact type of person that you want. Let's work with an example of a hardware store in Highland Park, New Jersey. Here's how you could set up a targeted ad:
- Set the location you want to target as Highland Park, New Jersey and a 10 mile radius around it.
- Set the demographic you want to target as men between the ages of 21 and 45, since these are the people that are most likely to be interested in buying tools and hardware.
- Choose interests that are relevant to a hardware store like, "Home Improvement" and "Do It Yourself"
At this point you've created a pretty good description of your model customer which is exactly why Facebook ads are so powerful for local businesses. If you want you can continue narrowing down based on other factors as well in order to create an even more targeted ad.
2b. Other ways to target. In addition to the standard targeting method, Facebook provides other ways to pinpoint target your audience.
The first method is through "Custom Audiences." This allows you to target a specific list of people via either their phone numbers or their email addresses. This can be very helpful for you if you are looking to reach people that you already have a relationship with.
The second method is "Lookalike Audiences." This feature will automatically target Facebook users that are similar to your current fans. This is a great way to automate the targeting for your ads.
For more information on how to create ads check out 6 Steps to Successful Facebook Ads and 7 Tips for Writing Killer Call-to-Actions on Facebook.
6. Advertise for Facebook from Your Brick and Mortar Location
Just like you advertise your business on Facebook, you should advertise your Facebook page from your business. You might be asking yourself now, why should I do that? These people have already come to my actual location!
The answer is, they came to your location once, but if you want them to keep coming back, then you have to form a relationship with them. By getting these people to like your page you're ensuring that they will continue hearing from you on Facebook, seeing the deals that you post, and interacting with your business page.
You can encourage people to check-in, review, or like your business on Facebook by offering them an incentive. I have personally been to multiple restaurants where I have been offered a free drink or a discount of some kind just for liking their page. Of course I did it. Who would pass up a free drink? Well guess what, I finished my free drink over a year ago, but I am still getting the updates on Facebook and returning to those restaurants.
The point is, advertise your Facebook page at your business location in order to build up your community and encourage return customers.
Let Facebook Take Your Local Business to the Next Level
If you're ready to take your business to the next level then you had better utilize all of the great features that Facebook has to offer by:
- Optimizing for the graph search
- Building a Facebook community
- Encouraging engagement with your page
- Optimizing for mobile
- Growing through highly targeted ads
- Getting return customers by advertising in your physical location
As your Facebook presence continues to grow, make sure that you continue providing your community with quality content and good deals. The better the content the stronger your connection will be.
By advertising your business on Facebook you can not only grow your business, but also create a very loyal group of returning customers.
If you have any more tips for advertising local businesses on Facebook we'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
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