No doubt you have heard how much of a time suck Facebook can be. But I’m tired of hearing about how Facebook is nothing BUT a time suck and that’s their excuse for not having a presence there. While it can be, it’s equally possible that, if you discipline yourself and set some guidelines, Facebook can be a very productive use of time. I’m not going to get into the ROI (return on investment) of time spent vs. money made, because it depends on your values. If you spend the time wisely–posting valuable information, responding to comments, researching–you will be making connections that may not pay off immediately, but could. Then if you get a $10,000 customer from 50 hours of time spent on Facebook, how much of a waste is that?
Here are 5 reasons your business should be on Facebook. I see this topic often on the web, so I hope I have a little different perspective than you may have seen before.
1. Introduce Yourself
The first thing people say when they’re saying you need to be on Facebook is because there are 500 million people on Facebook. That’s important, but I always feel my response is, “So? I can’t reach 500 million people and even if I could, how long would that take? I don’t have that kind of time.” And a little overwhelm comes into play. You know what I mean. Impressive, but meaningless.
So let me make it a little more practical for you. Because you need to be where the people are. Your ideal client target market is within that 500 million, and if you want to reach them, you need to be there. They aren’t hunting for you or else you’d already be wealthy and truly WOULDN’T need to be on Facebook. That not being the case, you need to go to where the clients you want to work with are.
Another advantage of your target market being within that 500 million people is, even greater numbers of your target market that you may not know about is in there. Depending on how you prioritized your demographics, you now have a greater reach beyond your local area that you may not have previously considered. This can also present an opportunity for expanding the services you provide. For instance, as a videographer, my target market is mainly entrepreneurs and small business owners in my local area of Greater Cincinnati. But with Facebook, there are a larger number of entrepreneurs and small business owners to market to, but obviously I can’t (necessarily – let’s talk!) go to California to shoot a video for someone. So I’ve added a service where the business can send me footage they took themselves and I’ll work it into a beautiful video for them.
Think bigger. Is there any way you can adjust your business to provide services outside your local area? I know sometimes even on the other side of town can be “outside” my local area and only found through online connecting.
2. Focused Demographics
For a bit of an investment, take some of that demographic research you did and place some strategic Facebook ads. The ads are typically inexpensive, you can easily limit your weekly expense, and you now know your ad is directly hitting your target market. It’s better to spend $1000 advertising to 5000 people who are your ideal customers instead of an extra 100,000 people that may not even relate to you.
If you provide different services to different demographic groups, Facebook Ads are affordable enough that you can run different campaigns each month, focusing on a different product or service.
3. An Inexpensive Way to Market Your Business
A small business either starting up or on a limited budget can spend time instead of money to market themselves. Assuming you’re managing Facebook yourself, setting up a Business Profile Page is free. After that, how much time you need to spend on Facebook is your decision. Spend the time wisely–posting valuable information, responding to comments, researching the demographics of your target market. It is from these interactions that future customers come.
Chances are you know someone on Facebook. And If you have friends that are already on Facebook anyway, just ask them to just pop on over to your business profile and like your page. You might be surprised how many of your friends don’t know you have a business (I know I always am). It’s also a great way to inform your friends of other services you provide they may not be aware of. (“Oh. I didn’t know you did that, too.”) And don’t be afraid to ask those friends to tell their friends. Pointing friends to your Facebook business profile is an excellent way to get started.
4. Build Relationship with Customers
This one is crucial, but it is also where the “time suck” most easily happens. Decide how much time you want to spend, set a goal, set a timer. When time is up, if you’re being productive, continue. But be sure to reset the timer, perhaps every 10 minutes, just so you remain aware of the time passing.
It’s important to have a business presence on Facebook because social networking is for the most part mainstream. That means the average person expects to find their favorite businesses there. If you’re not there, or in other words “easily found”, they’re going somewhere else.
Facebook is the easiest way to get and stay in touch with your customers. If you’re like many businesses, do you have a fishbowl or other means, where you collect business cards as people visit your store? Later, as you were entering those into your database, did you sometimes have questions about that particular person? Like what their needs were, did they actually purchase something in the store, were they totally satisfied with their purchase/visit? With Facebook it’s easy to find that out. Ask. First of all, encourage any foot traffic to visit your Facebook page. Then use your page to engage.
Facebook allows you to engage your audience like never before. Whether feedback is positive or negative, you now have the ability to respond before things get out of control, or reward consistent loyalty. You now have a face to your business – there is a real person giving them attention. Instant responses and direct resolution shows a real person behind the logo.
But in order for it to work, please dial back your sales pitch. Let the relationship sell your business. Think of it as a kind of hand-on/hands-off approach. You need to be hands-on in your attention, response, giving of yourself. But be hands-off in the sell. More like “just be available” when they are ready to buy. Of course don’t ignore obvious signs, but don’t push it down people’s throats. Well-written content in daily posts can be the reminder that you are there, ready to help.
5. Peer Connection
As a business owner, sometimes only another business owner can relate to something you may be going through, such as non-paying clients, clients from hell, tough deadlines, self-motivation, low pay, no boss to answer to, or no one else to blame when things go wrong. Besides hunting for customers on Facebook, be sure to take a look at people in your industry. These new friends can end up being some of your best friends, even if you never meet in person.
You may also get the opportunity to learn from those who’ve been there before. Perhaps you can even start, or run into, a mastermind group. Meeting people from around the world that you might otherwise never meet can bring a fresh perspective and keep you going in the tough times.
Just be sure to stay focused with your online time, or you may lose more time than you realize.
I do not advocate having a Facebook presence instead of a website. Do not recreate your website on your Facebook page. You have limited creative control of the site, like branding, and you’re at the mercy of any design changes they want to do. Think of it as leasing on Facebook. However, on your website, you have total and complete control of every aspect of it. Because you own it.
Facebook is an important place to be to meet new customers, get better acquainted with current customers and their needs, but the bottom line purpose is to drive people to your website where your business can really shine.