Tuesday Top Ten – Best Social Media Sites for Small Business (part 1)

I’ve decided to split this week’s Top Ten list into smaller, more manageable pieces. This week, I’ll be discussing Facebook, and how/why you and I should be using it for small business. I had intended on doing the whole list today, but the Facebook part of it got way too long, way too quick, so I’m posting it on its own. Hopefully the next few I’ll be able to post together, because if not I’ll be writing about social media for the next two and a half months which would be terribly tedious. But anyway, here it is…

Top Ten Social Media Sites for Small Business Part One

Hopefully you all have a personal Facebook account, so you have a bit of basic knowledge about this one. If you don’t, let me know and I’d be happy to walk you through how to get one set up. But even if you have a personal page on Facebook, maybe you don’t know why, or how, you should be using it for your business.

*As you’re reading, please note that all of this assumes that you’ve already started a Facebook page for your business. If you haven’t, start here. There are a lot of resources out there to help you get it set up, including this one which has videos along with text. Once you’ve got it set up, check out this site for more simple but valuable tips on what it should include.*

Why use Facebook as a part of your marketing strategy? Mainly, the sheer size of Facebook means that it will be a valuable tool in marketing your small business. As of last March, according to socialbarrel.com, the site had an estimated 1.5 billion active users. Billion. So basically, it’s huge. And even better, it’s free. Of course you can choose to pay for advertising if you’d like (I don’t), but even if you don’t you can still get your name/brand out there by doing a few simple things:

Make sure you are posting status updates regularly. Most advice will tell you that you should update daily. I don’t. I think a couple times a week might be enough, depending on your business and what you’re posting. You don’t want to post updates just to fill space. But you don’t want to overly self-promote either. Basically, what I do is when I have something meaningful and business related, I post it. Pictures of my works-in-progress, finished items before I list them, updates about shop issues, or even the random cat-stalking-yarn pic… They all make it onto my page.

A small note about this; the “experts” will tell you that pictures and/or links do better in terms of engagement than straight text updates do. I don’t find this to be the case. For example, I posted an update about a sales milestone last week and it got 141 views and 15 likes, while a link to my blog post from yesterday only got 36 views and 1 like. I say, find what works best for you and do it. If it happens to be text as opposed to links, then post more text updates. You can always post links in the comments.

You want people to see your updates, and either “like” them, comment on them or share them. Every time someone “likes”, comments on or shares your page or a post from your page, all of their friends see it in their feed. This not only boosts engagement, but it can also build your fan base.

My biggest issue with Facebook is engagement. A while back, Facebook changed how fans see page updates. Not everyone who “likes” my page will see every post. In fact, while I have over 1,200 fans, only about 100-150 see each status update. Here are couple suggestions that I’ve found, that I will try to use on my page in the near future.

Use hashtags. Facebook added the ability to post clickable hashtags recently. You can even search for which hashtags are used most, and find out which ones are used by your target customers or competitors.

Share quotes. This one I will definitely use. I have a whole book of knitting-related quotes. The idea here is to share quotes that your audience can identify with and will either like or share or both. You can also post a picture along with the quote if that’s what works for you. If you don’t have ready access to brand-related quotes, search using the hashtag #quote on Twitter or Facebook.

Ask questions. This suggestion is so awesome because it’s so open ended. As long as it’s appropriate to your page, it works. But keep it simple.

Connect with competitors, and comment on their content. I don’t use this suggestion currently. Actually, I’ve always been relatively opposed to it. But I may give it a shot, because why not? Obviously, you don’t want to actively advertise on competitors pages, but a relevant comment here or there on something they shared couldn’t hurt. You don’t want to step on any toes, but connecting and even cross-promoting with other small business owners can’t be anything but helpful.

Like vs. Share posts. kb-like-share-walmartThis one is interesting. I’m not sure how I will be using this one, but I’m definitely going to be trying it out. You could also use a different version of this idea by posting a “like vs. comment” update. Basically you are asking your fans to vote for one of two options, by either liking the post or sharing/commenting. It does require pictures, however. You want to create a picture containing the options you are asking your fans to choose from, and also include simple instructions for participation (which you can do using Photoshop or one of the many free photo editing options on the web). Again, every like or comment is shown to friends of fans, so this is a simple but very effective marketing tool.

I have to say, in looking for pictures to use as an example for this, I tried really hard to find one from somewhere other than Walmart. I detest Walmart. But that was the best example available. I feel a bit dirty for using it, but I didn’t have a lot of options. Anyway, back to the business at hand.

The last important thing, or at least most important thing because I’m sure there are many more tips out there, is that you should know when to post updates. In my case I’m marketing an online business but my main audience is still within the United States, or at least that’s where the vast majority of my sales come from. If you are marketing an online business as well, time zones are a factor that should be accounted for.

That being said, the best times to post to your page are generally around 1pm to 4pm. Traffic on Facebook starts to get steady around 9am and drops off around 4pm on the weekdays, but 1pm-4pm is when you are most likely to get the most exposure for your posts. The worst time to post, according to socialbarrel.com, is any day between 8pm and 8am or on the weekends. I’m not really sure how time zones factor into these times, but I would assume that they mean local time. You can post whenever you’d like, obviously, but I would suggest using the “schedule” feature to get each post maximum exposure.

I hope this little “guide” has helped. If you need more advice, check out the links I’ve included, or even do a Google search of your own. And if you have any strategies that you use with your own page that I haven’t mentioned, leave me a comment. I’d love to hear them! If you are still unsure about setting up your page or building a fan base, feel free to check out my page and/or send me a message.

Actually, it's my Sunday. And I'm not all that happy about it. But whatever.

Actually, it’s my Sunday. And I’m not all that happy about it. But whatever.