Facebook - well over 1 billion users and counting, and likely to be completely ingrained in the daily life of most people you know. That's a pretty big audience to tap into for a small business. Here's some Facebook tips from Timely.

Timely’s Social Series: Facebook

These Facebook tips will help you get set up and running on the world’s biggest social network, and give you a bunch of tips for laying a solid foundation for helping you build your page.

Some of you won’t have a Facebook page for your business just yet, and some of you will have one ready to go. Either way, there’s a ground rule before we even get started – don’t ever get discouraged, because social media followings are not built overnight! By following some basics and mixing in a dash of patience and perseverance it’s likely you can grow your audience (and the engagement you get from that audience) significantly.

Ok, let’s get into it. If you already have a page running it’s still worth going through the setup section – there might be some handy bits in there for you.

Setting up your page

Before we get started you’ll need a Facebook page set up for your business.

  1. Create your page. If you don’t have a page yet just go to your own personal Facebook feed and look for the ‘Create Page’ link on the left hand side, under the ‘Pages’ heading. Choose the type of page that best represents your business, and follow through the prompts from there making sure you fill out all the available sections nicely.
  2. Add great profile and banner images. The optimal size for your profile picture is 180px by 180px, but don’t worry too much about that – Facebook will resize it for you, so just make sure it looks fine in the preview you get shown when you upload and you’re good to go. Same with the banner – there are recommended dimensions (851px wide by 315px high), but don’t worry about that if you’re not sure what it means. Just make sure the image is nice and big, will look good in landscape orientation (Facebook’s banner image is quite narrow), and that nothing important in the image is covered by all of the stuff Facebook sits on it (your profile image box, your page name, and all the buttons for liking/sharing etc.).Again, use the preview to test it out and don’t be afraid to try a few options to get it looking right!As a general rule I recommend avoiding text-heavy banner images. There’s already a bunch of text going on up there in the banner anyway, and too much text in the image itself can make things feel messy and distracting (not to mention the fact that some of your text could be obscured by all those bits sitting over the bottom of the image).Timely Facebook Banner
  3. Set a custom ‘Facebook Web Address’. Take a look at your Facebook page’s URL – does it have a bunch of numbers and dashes mixed in with your name? Or is it nice and clean, like this one – https://www.facebook.com/liketimely? To set this, go to your Facebook page and click on Settings > Page Info and look for the Facebook Web Address field. Set that to whatever you like, hit save, and bam – your page is now a whole lot more professional.
  4. Fill in your business information. Go to Settings > Page Info and run down all the fields there, making sure you’ve added descriptions for your page (both short and long), a website (if you have one), and an email address if you’d like to make one available to your fans. Have a browse around the rest of the Settings area, too – there’s a bunch of stuff in there you can set up depending on your specific preferences.

Ok, with the basic setup done it’s time to get sharing!

Posting to your page

This is where all the groundwork we’ve laid in our introduction posts comes to fruition. You should already have a good idea of who your customers are and the tone you’re going to use to talk to them, and some general background on how you should approach social media, so remember all that when you write every post from here on out.

  1. Frame your deals and offers as humanly as possible. Remember, what your business sells and what your customers actually buy are quite different things. If you’re a massage therapist you might offer a 60 minute relaxation massage, but that’s not really what your customers are buying. They’re buying time out of their busy day, a retreat from the stresses of life, a more relaxed body…If you’re a personal trainer you might start offering an extra 2 hour boot camp at 6am on Monday mornings. The boot camp at $80 dollars is your product, but what your customers are buying is weight loss, or muscle growth, or a social experience centered around fitness…Write your posts accordingly! If you have a deal you really want to promote (which, remember, should be the minority of your posts) talk about the life enhancements you can offer people. Here’s an example:Promoting a product with a deal as the focus: “We’re running an extra boot camp next Monday morning at 6am – book in before Friday and get 20% off!”.Promoting a product with an experience/result as the focus: “We’re running an extra boot camp next Monday morning at 6am – come be part of an awesome, motivated group of people all aiming to knock their fitness goals out of the park! It looks like it’s going to be a cold morning, but don’t worry – we’ll have you sweating in no time ;-) Oh, and if you book before Friday we’ll even give you 20% off. Bring a friend?”One places emphasis on a financial transaction, the other on an uplifting, challenging experience (that also happens to be cheap this week). Which do you prefer? Which would you hit ‘like’ on? Which would you comment on, mentioning a friend so they see the post and get involved too?
  2. Get visual. Open your favourite Facebook page run by a business (oh, look, here’s one! ;-) ), and I guarantee a good chunk of the content you’ll see there are image posts. Why? Images perform far, far better than any other types of status updates on Facebook. According to Kissmetrics (a web analytics company), recent analysis shows that image posts get 53% more likes, 104% more comments, and 84% more clicks than a text-based post. Enough said! Images should come naturally. You could be anything – a hair stylist, a massage or beauty therapist, a personal trainer…whatever you do, there’s likely a highly visual element that you could be sharing. Take photos of your boot camps, ask your clients if you can photograph their shiny new cut and colour, or take a snap of those fancy new nails you just polished up.Timely Facebook postThe best bit? Someone might spot themselves in the photo you share and tag it with their name. They’re proud of the sweat they put into that bootcamp session, or those new nails, or that new hair colour!All of their friends will then see that image, and a few of them will ‘like’ it too. THEIR friends will then see that image, and so on. When you hear about something being ‘viral’ this is what that means – it’s that rippling motion out across the web where more and more people see something via someone they know, and images are one of the best ways of achieving this.
  3. Be useful. Yes, it’s your business page and your customers want to hear about what’s happening in your world. But they also want to learn from you. You’re the pro – if you’re a beauty therapist then it’s likely you’ll know more about makeup trends than most of the fans on your page, and they want to know what you know! Most of them will be there because they’ve used your services before and like what you do. They trust your judgement, so take that a step further. Let them know about events happening in your space, new products hitting the market, and tips and tricks for them to try at home. In short – enhance their lives.
  4. Be consistent. Don’t fall into the trap of feeling like you need to post 8 times a day, day in and day out, to get the most out of social media. It actually doesn’t work that way at all (you can breathe a sigh of relief now ;-) ). What is important is consistency. If you post something to your page daily that’s great, but if you only post twice a week that’s fine too. Just get yourself into a rhythm and keep it going. It will help you stay focused on posting, and your fans will get into a rhythm of expecting and anticipating your content too.
  5. Smile! You’re friendly and approachable in real life, right? Make sure you’re the same on Facebook :-)
  6. Learn from your mistakes and repeat your wins. Have a post that gathered dust and faded into obscurity without a single like? Work out why. Was it posted at a time of day when the majority of your fans were commuting to work? Was it too promotional? Learn from it and adjust. Have a post that exploded with likes and shares? Awesome! Make some assumptions on why it went so well and test your theory. You’ll soon learn what posts perform better than others for your particular audience.

Engaging with your community

Social media doesn’t work when it’s all one-way traffic. It’s a conversation, so make sure you keep that front of mind.

Always reply to comments, posts to your page and reviews. Sounds simple, but many businesses hit the post button and walk away. Customers come along and comment on their post and the business is nowhere to be seen!

Let’s use a physical scenario as an example – if someone walks into your business and asks a question (or pays you a compliment) do you ignore them? If you say something to someone do you just turn on the spot and walk away, or do you wait for their response and then respond back again yourself? This sophisticated communication mechanism between humans is commonly referred to as ‘chatting’, but many businesses seem to think it doesn’t apply on social media.

Trust me – it matters more than anything, so keep on eye on your page and make sure you’re always engaging back when people take the time to talk to you.

Spread the word and keep at it

There’s no magic bullet with social media. Want the secret? It’s quite simple – be patient, be consistent, spread the word and keep at it. If something works, do it again. If something doesn’t, don’t. It’s not exciting advice (there’s a ton of “GET 10,000 NEW FANS IN TWO DAYS!!” articles out there) but it’s real. Get the basics right and you’ll build a fan base of real people who need your services and like what you do. Ignore the one-in-a-million viral campaigns you see – slow and steady wins the social media race.

As a final point, ask yourself this – would you like, follow and engage with your page? Do you find it interesting and helpful? Would you share any of the content with your friends? If you can generally answer ‘yes’ then you’re doing it right. If your answer is ‘err… probably not’, then that’s how your customers will feel too.

Ok, that’s a fair bit of stuff to digest so I’ll leave you to it for now! We’ll be back soon for a look at the next social media platform in the series – Twitter.

As always, we’re here to help – if you want to chat about any of the above just drop us a line to [email protected], or leave a comment over on the Facebook post. We’d love to hear from you :-)

Until next time!