If you're an entrepreneur growing a small business, you've certainly heard how important it is to have a Facebook page.
A lot of businesses — big and small — do a pretty good job of designing pages and racking up a huge number of Likes. But many fail to follow-through and capitalize on their early efforts.
Savvy business owners know they need to continually refresh the content of their pages. That keeps customers engaged and coming back. These marketers also churn out very effective targeted ads to reach more of the right customers.
While some large advertisers have recently questioned Facebook's advertising effectiveness, it can be the most effective option for small businesses.
It's not all that difficult, but it takes some effort and a different way of thinking to succeed. These ideas will help get you started on your first — or next — killer campaign on Facebook.
You want people to Like your business, of course. But you also want them talking about you. It's a way of informing you how many fans are returning to your page and sharing what they see and read with their friends.
As an example, take a look at the Facebook pages of Dell and Hewlett-Packard. HP boasts 1.8 million Likes, compared to Dell's 1.5 million. Dell, however, has three times as many customers talking about its page — 33,889 compared to HP's 11,584.
So how do you keep customers engaged?
Maintain a very active profile. Post updates every day and as often as possible. Include photos and videos. It's fine to tell customers about your newest products — but don't give them the hard sell.
Your Facebook page is about maintaining a conversation and building interest in your brand. Post non-promotional items at times. Comment on a funny news story, for example.
Apps such as HootSuite and Tweetdeck can help you schedule messages to Facebook and other social media platforms so you don't have to be chained to your computer. Facebook's metrics will tell you which day of the week most people visit your page. "Show up" that day with great new content.
Ask customers questions. Although it's a lot more work for you, fans will become more engaged if you allow them to post on your wall. Ask them to send in stories and to post photos and videos of them using your product, if appropriate.
People love freebies, discounts and contests. Give out a special promo code once a week that entitles users to a free sample or a discount. Throw out a brain-teaser or trivia question and offer a prize to the first correct guesser.
Check your page a few times a day to interact. Try to answer questions and respond proactively and positively to complaints as quickly as you can.
As time goes by, you'll learn a lot about the interests and demographics of your followers. That's when you want to experiment with creating targeted ads. They're a great way to grab even more eyeballs for your page. Users will see an ad for your business' Facebook page on the corner of their profile.
The people who see your ad are likely to have friends who share that interest and have already liked your page. New customers will see their friend's name and be more interested in your business.
These ads will cost you, but you can manage how much you pay each day. Facebook offers tools to monitor how effective your ads are. They also offer examples of success stories about the power of marketing to a Facebook audience of your own creation.
A Minneapolis portrait and wedding photographer's investment of $600 in a Facebook ad campaign generated nearly $40,000 of revenue. Ads allowed him to target women aged 24-30 in the Twin Cities whose relationship status on Facebook indicated they were engaged.
A regional self-storage business saw a 50 percent increase in rentals after targeting ads to college students who were about to break for the summer.
Facebook makes it easy to tweak ads and try different combinations of text and pictures. Even when ads are working great, you want to change them up every few days to keep interest high.
Someday, your customers will come to see your page as more of a friend than a business. When that happens, pat yourself on the back — and then get back to work!