I’m running a session today in Verteuil about using Facebook for small businesses. I’ve got a good few things planned with a washing line and post-it notes, and speed-dates for business owners. I miss running training sessions. Training adults is just as fun as teaching children.
Anyway, I thought I’d share a few observations about the wherefores and hows of using Facebook in a micro-business.
What do people ‘like’?
People are herd creatures. They like what their friends like. They like what their colleagues like. They share. They like things that are funny. They share things that are either amusing or useful to someone. I might share something a friend will find funny on their wall, or I might share something they might like. They sometimes share things that are controversial. I share to the general public when it’s something I know a lot of my friends will be interested in. I share special offers or money-saving offers if I think someone will be interested in it, but I don’t do that very often. People like questions. They like personal things that cross over from professional. People like interaction. They like to be able to talk to the chief of the one-man band.
What do likes mean?
They’re in indication of popularity, of course, but they do not necessarily mean customers. In fact, you’re more likely to get custom in other places and then a like afterwards. The fact is that your business page will only really be seen by people who like your page already. It doesn’t go to everyone. So you need to keep your existing likers happy. And that means entertainment, not just information. It also does not mean endless advertising of your own wares. They’ll just unlike you. If I visit a new business page, it’s nice to see interaction, humour and a friendly professionalism. It is not nice to see ‘hike those likes’ because then that makes you look desperate. I want to know that a company is genuinely liked. I want to see that they are genuinely interested in their subject and they are genuinely interested in their clientele. If they are not, well, I’ll find things elsewhere. Likes from genuine likers, not just your mum or ‘hike those likes’, means that you are probably a good business. Sure, you can move up the Google Rankings if you have a very general term like ‘gites in France’ but most of the general terms are long gone.
What else do I want to see?
Pictures. Photographs. Photographs. Pictures. Relevant news stories, snippets of information, new stuff. Helpful things. Blog bylines so I can pick out which of the blogs I want to read. Contact information (not in the header!) Important things. Links to other things so I can get lost in the internet for a little while and put off doing the things I was doing before. Events if they’re near me. Links to your website and blog if you have them.
What don’t I want to see?
Unprofessional stuff; from badly-taken photographs to inappropriate content. Desperation. Endless in-your-face offers. Endless examples of your own content. If you post more than two things in a row, it will hog my newsfeed and I won’t be able to see any of my friends’ stuff. I don’t want to see too much. A barely-alive page is much less irritating than an excessive poster. Arrogance. A total onslaught of stuff with no real interest in whether or not people are actually interested. Very personal stuff, like your child’s birthday. Bad spelling. Bad grammar. When there are ‘likes’ on the page that are purely for ‘like me back’ reasons. 21% of people ‘unlike’ a product because it is too promotional.
So how do you get ‘likers’?
Link up to Twitter, your website, your blog, your linkedin. In short, anything you have in the real world or the virtual world. If people find you elsewhere, they might visit and like you here. Treat it as a sidewalk amuse-bouche. You want to put out lots of tasty tidbits that hint at the rest of your content and business, things that whet the appetite. Be funny and be original. Share things that you have wanted to share. Comment on other professional pages in a genuine and interested manner, using your business page profile. If you want people to interact with you, you have to interact x 50 with others. Don’t sweat it. A facebook page is just another tool in your self-promotion belt. It does pictures, which Twitter doesn’t. It’s slower than Twitter, and has less content, but it is more engaging content. It is less rewarding than a blog in terms of a reading experience and it is less permanent, so keep it fresh but not too often. It should be a diverting resource, with a good balance of useful and interesting.
Look at other popular local facebook pages. Make a list of the things you like about their content and do likewise.
Then look at other popular pages offering the same service you do. What content do they post?
Ultimately, though, it is not a popularity contest. Okay. It kind of is. But it is based very much on genuine reviews, genuine interaction and genuine word-of-mouth. Likes spread between friends.
Facebook could die. The internet is a fickle, fickle world. One minute we’re all over Myspace and Bebo, the next we’re Skyrocking and Instagramming. Likes do not mean sales. I love Grammarly’s page. It’s fun and I totally agree with all of their values. I share a lot of Grammarly stuff. But I’m never going to use them. Not ever. UNICEF have issued the bold statement that Facebook likes won’t save children’s lives. The same is true for your core business. Likes do not mean sales and Facebook has to be part of other things as well. Well-rounded is best. Having your fingers in plenty of well-linked pies is certainly a good way to spread your presence.