Definitive Guide to Facebook for Local Businesses

Guide to Using Facebook

Did you know there are just over 1.7 billion monthly active Facebook users?

Not only does that number represent a huge number of users, but it’s also growing year over year.

That means your business has a massive opportunity to find and connect with potential customers on Facebook. In fact, according to a recent survey, approximately 41% of small businesses use Facebook for business purposes.

It is by far the biggest social media channel used by small and local businesses. So, the big question is, are you using it for your brand?

If you’re not, then you’ve come to the right place. This guide was created to help local and small business use Facebook for effective marketing. 

In it, you’re going to learn a lot more than just the basics. You’ll discover how to choose and set up the right type of Facebook account, how to optimize your profile, develop a consistent and quality posting strategy, and build a following.

Ready to dive in?

Step 1: Create Your Facebook Business Account

So, you might think that setting up a Facebook page is pretty easy, but there’s actually a few very specific details you need to pay attention to from the start.

First up, head to Facebook.com.

If You Have a Facebook Account

If you already have your own personal account, you can easily add a business page to it. All you have to do is click the down arrow in the upper right hand corner and from the dropdown you will see an option “Create Page.”

From there, follow the directions you’re going to see below.

If You Don’t Have a Facebook Account

If you don’t currently have a Facebook account, or you want to create a separate account that is not related to your personal account, you will have to sign up at Facebook.com and create a new account.

Once you’ve created a new personal account (it doesn’t have to be detailed), click the arrow on the top right part of the menu and choose “Create Page.”

You’ll be given a number of options:

create-page

This part is nice and easy, choose “Local Business or Place,” and you’ll be asked to fill in your basic information.

In this case, we’ll use the same example of Chestnut Book Shop from the Twitter Guide for Local Business (since it’s important to try and keep branding the same across social media).

address

After clicking “Get Started” you will be able to fill out your profile details.

Step 2: Fill Out Your Profile Details

Now you’ve technically got your local Facebook page created, congrats!

But, this step, filling out the profile, is going to be one of the most important parts of this guide. Without a great profile that is optimized to be found you’re never going to see as many potential customers as you could.

Here’s what the main profile page is going to look like:

page-profile

Here, there are a couple of things you want to keep in mind:

  • Make sure you have the right category for your product or service
  • Give a nice and easy description of your product or service so people visiting your page know what you offer right away, and include a few keywords too
  • Don’t forget to include your brand’s website
  • Try to get a username that is the name of your business, and bonus if it’s the same as your other social media accounts (use Namcheckr to check)

Next, continue to fill out the other requested information like your profile photo (it’s best to keep this very simple and consistent across brands, if you have a logo that’s perfect).

When you get to the Preferred Page Audience section, this is very important. Since your brand is a local business, you want to be 100% sure you fill this out to attract your local customers.

Here’s what it will look like:

wizard-step

Once you fill in that info, your page will “officially” be created, but that doesn’t mean you’re done yet.

Here’s where you really want to work on optimizing your page, making it both inviting to your potential customers and easy to find.

Here’s what the page will look like in it’s current state:

page-complate-profile

Here are the main parts you want to pay attention to:

Photos

We already briefly covered the profile photo above and how it’s best to use a logo that is clear and easy to see.

Now, when it comes to the cover photo, this is something you do want to pay attention to. There are a couple of options when it comes to creating your cover photo.

You can use a tool like Canva or PicMonkey to create your own cover photo, since both have Facebook cover photo templates. You can add things like your business name, other social media accounts, or even phone number. Be sure to check out the cover photo guidelines to make sure you’re within the Facebook terms of service.

If you aren’t comfortable making your own photos, that’s ok too. You can hire someone out to do it on even the smallest budgets. Check out sites like Fiverr, UpWork, and 99 Designs to get started.

About

Beyond the photos, the other very important part of the page to devote time to is filling in your About page.

Here you want to enter in as much information as you can as descriptively as possible. Make it really easy for your customers to find out what they need right from your page. Here are a few of the really important items for local businesses:

  • Hours
  • Short and long descriptions
  • If parking is available
  • Phone number
  • Website URL
  • Email address

Facebook does a good job of highlighting a few tips and making it very easy to get your page up and running relatively quickly.

By now, once you’ve filled in all this information, your page is ready for prime time.

Step 3: Set Objectives

Ok, you’ve got your page, that means you’re ready to go, right?

Well, yes, but your Facebook outreach is going to be much better off if you take a bit of time before you start posting to develop a strategy.

First things first, you want to lay out the ideal objectives you want to achieve through your Facebook page.

For most brands, that is going to mean they’d love to see some interaction and engagement with their Facebook page, but most importantly, they want to drive customers to take action from the page, that could mean visit the website, call, or even visit in person.

You want to create a strategy that pushes your ideal customers towards your objectives and goals. Something that is important to keep in mind is the objectives can be slightly different for business to consumer (B2C) versus business to business (B2B) brands.

Let’s take a quick look at each one separately.

Business to Consumer (B2C)

For an example of a B2C brand, you need to look no further than our example of Chestnut Books. This is a local business that sells books directly to customers, so the way they are going to approach Facebook would be different if they sold directly to other businesses.

One of the most important keys for B2C brands to focus on in setting their overall strategy and objectives is to really connect with the customer. Because a local business can play a vial part of in the local community, a B2C strategy can really highlight the “local” part of things.

Here are a few common objectives and strategies a local B2C brand could focus on:

  • Providing excellent customer service
  • Fostering an active community of customers
  • Highlighting sales, coupons, and special offers
  • Alerting about new items in stock or services
  • Sharing the latest news
  • Rewarding loyal customers
  • Running giveaways

When your brand creates a strategy that centers around providing this type of targeted content, you’re already going to be ahead of the game. It can help to create a page that is quite active and that your customers will return to again and again.

Business to Business (B2B)

Now, while in an ideal world, the B2B and B2C brand are looking for the same thing (more customers), things that work on a Facebook page for B2C won’t translate as well to a local B2B page.

In the case of the B2B brand, unlike our bookstore example from above, the customers are going to be other brands. So the objectives should be centered around highlighting how your brand is one that stands out, that is an expert in the field, and provides great service.

Here are a few common objectives and strategies a local B2B brand could focus on:

  • Providing excellent customer service
  • Growing brand reputation
  • Becoming an influencer in the industry
  • Highlighting brand culture
  • Showcasing brand and industry news
  • Improving brand reach

Focusing in on a strategy that centers around improving the reach, reputation, and influence of your brand is a great way to grow your following on Facebook. These local B2B brands that embrace these ideas might find their business expanding even outside their local area.

Step 4: Set a Social Media Policy

Setting a social media policy? Does a local business even need to worry about something like that?

The answer is a resounding yes!

While creating, picking, and choosing content to share on Facebook might seem pretty simple, your brand needs to be aware of any content that could potentially be disruptive, or even worse, offensive.

If that happens, it can be absolutely devastating for a brand, especially one that really relies on the local community for business.

You might remember this famous meltdown from a local bakery after they were featured in a negative light on a reality show:

page-summary

Unfortunately, it’s not hard to predict how posts like that went over with their customers, right?

This is why you need a social media policy, both for posting and sharing content.

Since it is very important to interact with everyone who posts on your page, your brand should also have a policy regarding any responses your brand gives to comments or posts left on your site.

Remember, it only takes one bad comment or sarcastic joke that might have been misunderstood to really damage a brand’s standing and reputation.

Put safeguards in place to ensure that doesn’t happen to you.

Step 5: Build a Team

As part of developing a social media policy, you also want to think about how you are going to build out your social media team.

Now, we know that the big brands have multiple people and dedicated teams who are all devoted to just social media.

For most small and local brands that’s not a luxury many can afford, so the social media posting duties tend to either fall to one person in marketing, or is spread around a number of people in the company.

Another thing to be aware of when assigning the posting roles and creating your social media team, you want the brand to always be posting in a consistent voice. Your Facebook visitors shouldn’t see a difference in tone or style based on who is publishing the post.

The only area where you should be ok with highlighting different team members is when dealing with customer service. If you have a customer who posts something on your wall, then it’s perfectly fine for your brand to respond and the person who is helping can highlight who they are by adding their initials at the end of the comment.

Regardless of who is posting and when they do it, you want to be sure that the team is very aware of the social media posting guidelines you’ve set up for your brand. This will help ensure there are no accidental mistakes because someone new joined the team.

Step 6: Find Content to Share

Now we’re getting to the fun part, finding content to share with your Facebook followers.

One of the great things about Facebook, and one of the biggest reasons why so many brands are seeing success with it, is it’s really easy to share all sorts of different types of content (which we’ll cover a bit more in depth in a later step).

Since you’re running a local business, your brand has the benefit of also being able to include local news and content as well. This will work for both B2B and B2C brands.

Remember, the key to a successful Facebook page is sharing content that you know your ideal customers are going to love, be educated, and entertained.

In an ideal world, the content you share will be liked, commented on, and shared. The more engagement you get from your followers, the better off your brand is going to be.

Here are a few great places to find quality content:

  • Feedly – This tool let you follow a number of blogs and websites and organizes them all in one place, making it very easy to save and share
  • BuzzSumo – If you want to post content around a very specific topic type in the keywords, and BuzzSumo will highlight the most shared posts

Also, don’t forget depending on your industry, there are lots of other places you can go like Reddit, Inbound, and even Pinterest to source great content your followers will love.

Now, you also want to share your own content as well, and here’s where we’ll see a couple of differences between B2C and B2B brands.

Let’s take a look.

Business to Consumer (B2C)

B2C brands want to highlight the content they’ve created around the customer experience, that’s a great way to build upon and expand the reach of a brand.

So some of the content that can be shared include:

  • Unboxing posts or videos
  • Customer testimonials
  • Customer case studies
  • How to guides
  • Buyer’s guides
  • Behind the scenes tips and tricks

Business to Business (B2B)

B2C brands are all about building authority and influence. Consumers (and that includes other businesses) are looking online for educational material and information that will help them in their buying decision.

Capitalize on that by highlighting some of these types of content:

  • Comparison guides
  • Infographics
  • Industry news
  • Slidedecks
  • Video interviews with employees or clients
  • Client case studies

You want an ideal mix of about 70% to 80% of the content you share to be that of others (or content that you’ve created like a photo quote, for example) and the remaining 30% to 20% should be your own content that is specifically designed to push customers towards taking an action.

That’s why you want to be sure you have a nice supply of content that you’ve collected over time at the ready to share.

Step 7: Set a Schedule

Since over 1 billion people are on Facebook every single day, you want to be 100% sure you are posting your content on your page when they are online. Your local brand doesn’t need to worry about dealing with multiple time zones or clients around the world.

The best tool for helping you figure out when to post is right inside Facebook itself, called Insights. At the top of your own page, you can click Insights and the Posts and you’ll be given a breakdown of the times your fans are online. Keep an eye on it, as overtime when you get more fans this can change.

Now, if you don’t have any fans yet, then not to worry. There have been lots of studies about when the best time to post on Facebook is and the general consensus is:

page-statistics

Unlike Twitter, where it’s better to post more content, you don’t have to post daily, or even multiple times daily on Facebook. The most important thing is to be consistent with when you do post.

Now you know when to post, as far as how to post, you can set a calendar reminder and post from right inside Facebook. Or you can use tools like Buffer, Edgar, or HootSuite to schedule posts more in advance, the choice is yours, just note that posts scheduled inside Facebook tend to have a larger reach.

Step 8: Start Posting

Well, we’ve finally gotten here. It’s time to start actually posting!

You’ve got your page set up, some content saved and ready to go, your page profile set and optimized. It’s finally time to start actually pushing some content out there.

Now, remember we mentioned above that one of the great things about Facebook, especially for small businesses is the types of content you can actually post.

Let’s take a look at a quick overview:

  • Your blog posts
  • Other brands blog posts
  • Slide decks
  • Images
  • Quote images
  • Inspirational images
  • Gifs
  • YouTube videos
  • Vine videos
  • Product photos
  • Coupon codes
  • Contests
  • Links to your other social media accounts

That’s a lot of content! And this is great because it means you can really switch up what you are sharing in your scheduling, and that really is recommended.

You don’t want to just share all of the same types of posts all the time. That gets boring for your customers, so be sure to add variety in, that means if you post three times a week, have one be a blog post, one a video, and one a photo image.

Do this and you’ll always have your customers excited to see what you’re going to come up with next.  

Step 9: Connect with the Community and Build a Following

Once you have your page up and have started posted content on it, the next thing you want to focus on is building a community and connecting with them.

Remember, chances are your local business is not going to see hundreds of thousands of followers like with the big brands, but that’s ok. What actually matters more than followers is engagement and interaction.

Even if you only have 100 followers on your page, you want some of them to be liking, commenting, and sharing every post. That’s how you really build an engaged community of loyal customers.

Post Great Content

One way to do this is by posting up varied and interesting content.

This type of content is the kind that gets shared. And when content gets shared by your customers it means it goes out to their friends, who are also potential customers too, thus building up your reach.

Interact with the Community

Another important way to build up your community is to interact with your followers.

Always respond when someone posts a comment or shares something on your wall, even if it isn’t positive or great news. You want to build customer service and relationship skills from the ground up, and most people will appreciate a brand that is putting in the effort to connect one on one.

Invest in Facebook Advertising

A third way to build up your following is to invest in Facebook advertising.

Facebook advertising is a very easy (and quite affordable) way to grow your community that works really well especially when you’re starting out. You can specifically target your ideal customer with your own content, or you can simply invite people in your area to follow your page.

If you start out with these three methods to growing your community you’re going to be in good shape. Remember, it’s not all about quantity when it comes to local Facebook pages, it’s all about the quality of the posts and interaction.

Step 10: Track Your Results

Well, you’ve made it!

The thing to remember though, your job doesn’t end here. You need to do one last thing when it comes to maintaining your Facebook page and keeping your competitive advantage up, and that’s always be tracking and monitoring.

The great thing about Facebook is they make it very easy to track the response to your content via Insights. So, if you notice a sudden spike in engagement, you know you’re on the right track and should continue to push out similar types of posts.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and see what happens, the more you do, the more you’ll be able to see what works and then give your target market the content that they love, which will help drive them to your brand.  

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