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Getting new customers is a top concern for most small-business owners — and the solution may be in the palm of their hands.
Social media is one of the main ways customers find small businesses, but only a fraction of business owners are actively invested in growing their social media presence.
A new NerdWallet study found that 42% of Americans use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok to find the small businesses they support.
On the other hand, only 33% of small businesses have increased their social media presence in the past 12 months as a way to cope with recent economic conditions, the survey found, despite most listing finding and retaining customers among their top concerns.
Your Facebook business page is a perfect place to start. It’s basically a one-stop shop to find and engage with potential customers, helping you build the trust and relationship shoppers value most from small businesses. Use these best practices to optimize your Facebook business page to find new customers and drive more sales.
Do: Mind the basics
First things first: Make sure the basic details of your business are visible and accurate, including your hours, location, contact information and business website.
Take time to fill out the “About” section with what you offer, how you started and what you stand for — anything that helps potential customers connect with your company and its mission.
Don’t neglect your profile and cover photo, but keep it simple. Your company’s logo can make a great profile picture (and it will appear on every post or comment you make), while your cover photo can showcase your storefront, product line or the services you offer. The important part is that it connects to your business and brand.
Don’t: Sell, sell, sell
This may seem counterintuitive. After all, you’re trying to increase sales. How can you do that without selling? But you’re playing the long game here to build trust and community.
Rather than constantly making sales pitches, use your Facebook posts to educate and engage potential customers, with sales and promotions sprinkled in.
Own a landscaping business? Share lawn care tips, tutorials and seasonal reminders. Run an ice cream shop? Post pictures of customers enjoying their favorite scoop. Make a product, like artwork, pottery, furniture or soap? Record and share your process.
Kela Nabors, founder and CEO of Organically Bath & Beauty, a San Antonio-based company that makes and sells organic, vegan bath and beauty products, built a strong Facebook following by giving people a peek behind the scenes of running her business.
One post — a minute-long video of Nabors cutting soap — has more than a million views.
“I make product four to five times a week. I just set up a tripod and record myself,” Nabors says. “Sometimes you can overthink it and it becomes this thing of ‘What kind of dance can I do?’ but it doesn’t have to be like that.”
Do: Include an action item
Make it easy for people who find your Facebook business page to shop, book an appointment or contact your business with questions.
Use a combination of action buttons (a built-in Facebook tool you can add to your business page) and links within posts to take people to your website.
Already have an e-commerce operation? Consider adding a storefront to your Facebook business page.
“It was a really easy setup,” Nabors says, noting that Facebook pulls in product descriptions, photos and inventory counts from her existing GoDaddy e-commerce site. “It syncs it all together so that no matter where a sale occurs, I’m able to keep real-time inventory in our store.”
Don’t: Forget to respond to customers
You don’t need to reply to every message or comment immediately, but you should respond to most and do so within a reasonable time frame.
You have more wiggle room with comments, where a response is typically a bonus rather than a requirement. Set aside dedicated time to respond to them so they don’t become overwhelming.
For direct messages, use an autoreply to let people know their message was received and to set expectations for when you’ll respond — within two business days is ideal. Then, meet those expectations.
“Strong customer engagement shows current followers that you care about your customers,” says Ty Wilson, co-founder of CustomMade, an online custom jewelry company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “Plus, every time you publicly comment on a review, it boosts engagement on your page and can attract new followers.”
Do: Be patient
Building a following won’t happen overnight. And it may take even longer for those followers to turn into customers. Still, persistence and patience will pay off.
“For the first four years of my business, no one ever responded to any of the questions I had on my posts,” Nabors says. But as her following grew, so did engagement.
“Stay consistent and lean into what works,” she says. “And talk to your audience even if they’re not talking back.”