Most individuals and businesses are on Facebook, which still the most popular social media platform. So chances are, if you’re a small business owner, you’ve created a business page. But are you using it to its full potential? Is it working for you as a way to drive traffic to your website and/ or to grow your online community? I know Facebook can be confusing (because they are frequently updating and changing its functionality), and advertising on it can seem really expensive and complicated, but here are some current (2020) ways to use Facebook for free, beyond your standard posting.

Setting up your Facebook Business page:

You probably already have a page set up for your business, but have you thoroughly combed through all of the “static” content on your page? It’s important to check in every few months, to make sure the different sections of your page are up-to-date with the message you want your business to project. Your avatar (the circular image that is next to all of your posts) should rarely if ever change. But changing up your banner image isn’t a bad idea- if you have seasonal products to promote, for example, this is a good place to do that. Just make sure that when the season ends, or a promotion ends, you change the banner again- it looks sloppy to have out-of-date info anywhere on your page! Under the banner image, you’ll notice there’s a CTA button– usually it says “Learn More”. You can use this to take people to any page on your website, or to contact you directly. Be sure to test the button to make sure it works!

Then the most important section is your About section- this should have an up-to-date “story” about your business, you correct contact info, hour of operation (if that pertains) and a link to your website!

Another important section for all businesses is the Reviews section. If you currently don’t have any reviews, consider sending a message to some of your past clients and asking them for a review. Be sure to send them a link to that page of your Facebook account- the review must be written from the customer’s account to your page (you can’t copy/ paste a review on to your page).

Finally, at the top of your page, you’ll see Insights. This is an amazing tool that a lot of people don’t use. It shows you your page’s analytics, including who is visiting your page, when, where from and on what device. These can be very valuable insights if you know how to use them- for example, if you notice that there’s a big uptick in page traffic in the morning, be sure to post (and run ads) during that time. Also, DO NOT FORGET to check your business page’s inbox! You might be getting messages from potential clients but are not getting notifications in your regular Facebook account.

 

Tagging and Posting:

If you’ve been using Facebook for any length of time, you’re probably pretty comfortable with making a post- and hopefully, adding photos & videos when you can (people are way more likely to engage in posts that are not text-only!). But are you using tags frequently? You’ll notice when you start to type in a person’s name or business name, often a tag pops up and you can choose to include that in your post. This is a great way for your post to gain momentum! For example, if you are leading a bike tour using Trek bikes and you tag Trek in your post, maybe they will share it! And then you just reached potentially thousands of people who didn’t know your business existed. Of course, don’t get carried away with tagging- only do it when it makes sense for that particular post. 

Cross-Posting vs Auto-Posting: You’ve probably noticed that Instagram is now owned by Facebook (no surprise!). One of the benefits is that you can now auto-post to both platforms at once. BE CAREFUL when you’re doing this for your business page, for 2 main reasons: 

1. Your tags in Instagram might not work in Facebook. For example, if you tag @trek_bikes in an Instagram post, and then auto-post that to Facebook, it will just look like weird text, not a tag, because Trek’s Facebook handle is different. 

2. You can easily lose track of posts when you’re autoposting and might be missing opportunities to engage with people. I know I have done this before- I create a post in Instagram and auto-post it to Facebook, but I don’t follow up on the post in Facebook. . . So if someone tried to engage with me/ asked me a question in the Facebook post, I didn’t respond. That can make you look flaky and unreliable. 

So, in short. Cross-post, don’t auto-post. By that, I mean that it’s fine to post the same content across multiple social media platforms, but the best practice is to take the time to create individual posts for each platform. 

Finally, when it comes to posting- don’t forget to follow up and engage with people who comment on or share your post! Also, if it’s a really great post, or an upcoming event, consider “pinning” it to the top of your page.

 

Events & Groups

Facebook Events have been an integral part of the platform for a long time (maybe since the beginning), and if you host any kinds of business events you should definitely be using them. But it’s not enough to just create an event and then forget about it. . . You should treat it like a little page of it’s own, with important content and people to engage with. First of all, never wait until the last minute to create an event. You should give people as much notice as possible- ideally 3 weeks or more (depending on how big the event is). Then after you invite people, you’ll want to regularly engage with them until the date of the event. By this, I don’t mean pester them relentlessly with “reminders” about the event, but make them excited to attend! You can post photos, videos, live videos and send messages to attendees. For example, if you are hosting a music event, try asking the musician(s) to post a video (or do a live video) in the event! They can talk to the invitees and play a short song to get people excited about the show, and hopefully to boost ticket sales! 

Groups are a little bit newer than events, but are becoming increasingly useful and important. In fact, Facebook has stated that they are prioritizing group content over regular posts and even ads. There are already thousands of groups, but if you have an idea for a group that doesn’t already exist, start one! And join other groups that are pertinent to your type of business or ideal client/ customer. Groups are a great way to interact with people, and most importantly gain trust with people by providing value to the group. Monitor the groups you’re in as often as you can, answer peoples’ questions when you know the answer, offer advice or help if they need it. Think of groups as little online networking opportunities!

Video & Facebook Live

Video is becoming more and more important throughout the web. Google is prioritizing it for SEO, and not surprisingly Facebook is also prioritizing it in their algorithm. This means that if you post a video, it is likely to get more traction than a post using just text and images. Videos are a great way to put a “face” with your business, showcase products, answer questions, and more. If you have one really great video that introduces your business or product, consider pinning it to the top of your page, or uploading it to the “videos” section, so it is permanently part of your page.

Live Video can seem a little scary, but this is an even higher priority than regular video in Facebook’s algorithm. If you haven’t used it before- take a look on your page, where you create your posts, and click the “Live” button. You’ll notice that you can add tags, a title and description of your video- all highly recommended. Also, try to give people a head’s up if you can, before launching a live video. If it’s an important message, start posting about the video at least a day or two in advance. Tell people at what time you are going to go live, and be on time. Once the live video is over, spend some time going through any comments/ questions that people posted, and thank everyone for watching.