Facebook offers more opportunities for businesses than ever before. Gemma Went suggests six ways to get the most out of this constantly evolving social media site
Most people use Facebook to keep up with family and friends, and share hilarious cat videos (I do that too); but Facebook also has a lot to offer if you run your own small business.
1. Getting the basics right
Use a distinct, recognisable headshot as your profile picture. You want to be memorable, even if someone is scrolling past you in a newsfeed, so don't use logos or group shots.
You should also create a striking cover photo which promotes your latest offer or free opt-in - add the words "click for more" to the image, and then fill the description area with useful welcome text.
To set up a vanity URL (ie www.facebook.com/yourbusinessname), visit Facebook Username Settings, then click Select a Username, pick your page from the dropdown list and enter your chosen name. Once you're happy, click confirm and you're done. You must have 25 or more likes to be able to do this.
Introduce yourself by writing a nice little bio (including an organically placed keyword or two), as well as pinning a welcome message to the top of your page. You get bonus points if your welcome message is in video form.
2. Pages are not the same as Groups
There's a lot of discussion about which is better for your business - Facebook Pages or Facebook Groups. In fact they are both important. The two have such different purposes and functions that they're simply not interchangeable.
A Facebook Page is like a personal profile for your business, and allows your fans to follow a brand. It's very easy to update, you can post whatever you like (following the FB guidelines of course), and you can personalise it in line with your brand. And using Facebook Insights you can monitor the performance of each of your posts - which is essential if you want to run ads.
However, there are a few downsides. For starters, everything is out in the open. You can't stop people from seeing what you post (or what others post), and communication (especially between fans) can be difficult to manage. You will also have to fight the newsfeed algorithm, which tends be tougher on page updates than group updates. It can be difficult to grow a page organically, so you will need to work hard at it.
A Facebook Group is a place to bring people together who are interested in a particular topic. It's a powerful tool for building connections, but it is more about a personal presence than a brand.
You may be reaching a narrower audience, but it will also be a more focused one. Again, it takes time and effort to build a large, engaged audience, but it's worth it.
How you use Pages and Groups depends on your goals. Do you want to promote your business or establish yourself as an expert? Do you want to cultivate a community? Do you need to run ads? Think about all of these things and then work out which is right for you.
3. Facebook lists enable targeting
As you grow your business, you'll get more and more friend requests from colleagues, clients and other interested parties. Some entrepreneurs have a blanket "friends only" policy, others don't. If you want to keep those connections, while still maintaining a work-free Facebook profile, I have the answer for you - Facebook lists.
Facebook lists enable you to separate your friends into groups, then each time you go to post an update, you can pick which list(s) get to see it.
4. Video will get you noticed
Video simply kills it on Facebook; its algorithm just loves a video or live replay. But it's worth noting that Facebook prefers native video, so upload your clips directly rather than sharing a YouTube or Vimeo video.
If the thought of having your face on camera still fills you with dread, I have a nifty little tool to recommend. Loom is a free Chrome extension that allows you to film directly from your browser. And of course there's always Facebook Live.
5. Facebook Events helps build buzz
Use the Facebook Events tool to coordinate your business events (whether they are virtual or in person). You get a functional little hub to share all the details, you can invite people and share updates really easily.
You can generate excitement by starting discussions with your attendees, writing catchy posts to invite your fans to the event, and sharing sneak peak images or videos - on Facebook and elsewhere.
6. Take advantage of Messenger
There have been some really exciting updates in the world of Facebook Messenger recently.
In particular, Facebook bots are exploding right now. These are handy little automated sequences that can provide frequently requested information, share welcome messages, promote your content, book appointments and request (and receive) payments.
Facebook has the potential to be a real powerhouse of leads for your business - you just need to make sure you're using it right.
Gemma has more than 20 years' experience in the online world and worked for a variety of clients and agencies before setting up her own award-winning business.