How to use Facebook to promote your business

Chris Lee continues his series on how small businesses might want to use social media by looking at the 300lb gorilla that is Facebook.

8th March 2010 at 9:44 am

With around 400 million potential customers active on social network Facebook, many of whom openly display their interests, you would have thought that Facebook was manna from heaven for marketers.

In reality, very few companies are successfully exploiting the channel to promote their business, and many of those have big budgets. So why and how should an SME or start-up think about Facebook as a marketing channel?

Forming a Facebook fan page is often viewed as a fantastic way to engage with the public, and if you do it right it can be hugely successful.

Coffee chain Starbucks has more than 5.5 million members on its Facebook fan page, and is by far and away the most successful brand on Facebook. But for small businesses the challenge is that much harder as they don’t enjoy the same level of brand awareness. For example, more than three quarters (77 per cent) of Facebook fan pages have less than 1,000 members.

Why do it?

So why should small businesses form a Facebook fan page? Creating a Facebook page provides the opportunity to directly interact with potential and existing customers. 400 million users – and growing – simply cannot be ignored. Some of these people will be in your local area and they may be searching for your product or service.

As well as a way to sell and generate brand awareness, Facebook groups provide a free way to carry out market research – you can poll your fans, gauge their reaction to ideas before you implement them.

Content is Key

The clincher when it comes to attracting and retaining Facebook fans is what you offer them. There is an infinite amount of interest groups that Facebook users can join, so you need to make yours stand out from the herd. Most groups probably fail to reach 1,000 members because they fail to offer compelling content and, worst of all, do not interact.

So, think of video, audio, blogs and other interesting content that would appeal to your target audience. You can then use tools such as to syndicate that content with minimal manual input your end. Have a look at car hire firm Zipcar’s Facebook page to see how innovative content has helped a small business generate a following of nearly 30,000.

Most of all, it’s a community, so INTERACT!

How promote it?

Once you’re clear on what you want to achieve from your Facebook page, what content you’re going to offer, who’s going to manage it and how often you’ll be updating content and interacting with customers, you need to think about how to attract people to your page in the first place.

Start small – friends, friends of friends, customers. Provide links on your homepage to click through to your Facebook page, offer discounts and other benefits exclusive to Facebook group members. Your popularity will spread virally, so don’t expect Rome to be built in a day.

Assess where you are after one month, two months etc and think about how you could better promote the site if you’re not hitting numbers.

For more on the subject of Facebook pages, listen to this podcast from with social media consultancy, Fresh Egg.

Chris Lee

Chris Lee is a freelance public relations and digital media consultant. Having spent a decade straddling both sides of the technology media fence – within independent tech PR agencies and also as a journalist for IT Week, Computing and latterly New Media Knowledge. Chris is also the founder and editor of Run Marketing, a DIY marketing site dedicated to small businesses.

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  1. As a business owner, you need to be where your potential customers are and Facebook has 19 million UK users.

  2. Rich says:

    Yet still people continue to bark out their latest offers over and over again and fail to get the point that on Facebook, nobody is paying any attention of them and all they are in fact doing is alienating the very people they are trying to impress.

    Content is king in every respect when it comes to the internet. Attract people to you by offering value in what you say, by that I do not mean 50% off whatever your service or product is, i mean real value. What can you give people free of charge that takes little time and no cost for you to give.

    The Small Biz Pod is a great example of such a thing by the way. Keep up the good work.

  3. Helen says:

    Facebook is certainly working out to be great for a lot of businesses, but I still see many that don’t seem to have the hang of it, especially in how they deal with any negative comments that are made about them. Your internet reputation is really important, so it’s vital to be seen to handle any negative issues effectively.

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