Businesses have plethora of marketing tools on 15-year-old social media platform
By Kim Patterson
These days small-business owners are aware that Facebook is an option for advertising, but many don’t take advantage of, or even know about, the numerous business tools Facebook has to offer.
“Obviously, some business owners don’t have a page or rarely post,” says Kelly Michael Skelton, digital marketing and systems architect with Fiber Optic Center in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and director of marketing for South Shore Gunite Pools & Spas in Billerica, Massachusetts. “I believe that they are missing out on a great opportunity. Facebook allows businesses to engage in active dialogue with their community and customers. It also allows owners to share information more frequently and in a more social setting than on a website or an advertisement.”
Facebook can be used as a kind of mini website, but one that allows for a closer connection with customers than a traditional website. Features such as the virtual showroom tour tab, About and Our Story sections, Appointment Scheduler, the Call Now tool and many more provide a quick way for the public to access a wide array of business information and get in touch.
For business owners, Skelton says a key resource that many people don’t even know about is Blueprint Academy, Facebook’s online courses that are free and helpful for businesses trying to grow through the platform.
Skelton says the auto-messaging feature is an essential tool for busy dealers to incorporate. “Auto-message reduces the workload and qualification process of new messages and lets the professionals focus on the unique and important questions first and foremost,” he says.
Using Facebook to keep customers engaged and interacting is a strategy that Shawn Maynard, owner of Bullfrog Spas of Northern Utah in North Ogden, Utah, regularly incorporates into his marketing. His staff build trust and interact with potential customers on their company Facebook page in a variety of ways.
Maynard’s business has incorporated the auto reply to messenger and Call Now features. “We have had them active for a long time,” he says. “Most of our followers are our customers, but we have had some interest from some followers on unique products we offer that they maybe didn’t get with their spa originally.” The company’s About section is also complete, offering some at-a-glance details about the business, and the cover photo is a video instead of a just a picture.
Nick Kasten, sales manager for Arizona Hot Tub Company in Prescott Valley, Arizona, sees the benefit in using a Facebook business page to keep up interaction with current customers, but he also employs the About and Our Story features on Facebook to help engage potential new clients. “It’s important,” Kasten says. “People who don’t know you might want to hear your version of your history and why you do what you do.”
“If a business does not have these areas filled in, I would argue that they do not have a complete profile,” Skelton advises. “Folks want to know who you are and why you do what you do, especially for a trade that is so personal like working on someone’s property.”
Rebekah Sine, owner and co-founder of Method Agency in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, says business owners should use Facebook for a number of interactions. “Having a place for customers to sign up for your email list is a nice added bonus to the Facebook page,” she says. “And it works. My clients have people signing up that way all the time.”
Sine also says creating a custom URL for your Facebook business page is a must. “When you just use the standard URL Facebook assigns to you, it comes with a string of characters after your page name that look messy and aren’t easy to remember,” she says. “It’s better on the eyes, and a short enough URL you could print on signs or in display ads.”
For example, a business called Hot Tub Company will automatically generate to something like
Facebook.com/Hot-Tub-Company-234128749879-fadfknj-fbk. But Facebook.com/HotTubCompany could be available for customization.
To change the URL, go to your business page on Facebook and click the About tab on the left-hand side. Click Edit to change your username (in this example, you’d change it to @HotTubCompany). This will change the URL and give Facebook users an easier way to tag your company in posts. As long as the name you want isn’t already taken, you should be able to use your company name or a close variation.
“If you don’t want to personally manage Facebook messages, there are tools out there that help you easily create chatbots — a way to answer commonly asked questions from your customers or potential clients,” Sine says. “If people often message you to ask your hours, you could have that answer pre-programmed. If customers are looking for the contact number for the service department, this is an option you can program to have automatically answered. You can even pre-qualify leads by asking for their preferred hot tub size and/or budget.”
All of these extra Facebook tools can be important for furthering your business. “Put your personality on your page,” Kasten says. “Show potential customers who you are, but also keep your current customers engaged with the product they bought from you so that they will send you referrals when the time comes.”