Facebook Marketing Ideas for Small to Mid-Sized Businesses
The 2011 Zoomerang study, Marketing in a Digital World set out to understand how small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) and consumers are using social media tools to interact for business purposes. Zoomerang surveyed decision-makers in U.S. businesses with less than 1.000 employees.
The question many people are curious about is why SMBs choose to use social networks. The top three reasons cited include:
- Connecting with customers
The social media outlet most widely used to market to customers was listed as Facebook with 86%, compared to LinkedIn (41%), Twitter (33%), Google+ (17%), YouTube (14%) and Company Blog (13%) and even smaller numbers for Yelp, Foursquare, Slideshare, and DocStoc.
These survey results are exciting in terms of the wide acceptance of Facebook amongst marketers. Facebook offers businesses many different features and the time commitment is less time intensive than some other options such as maintaining a corporate blog. The favorite Facebook features for businesses and consumers were reported as: photos, messages and status updates.
Let’s take a look at now how you can use photos, messages and status updates:
Photos on Facebooks
David Hartstein provides six tips to enhance your Facebook page with photos:
1) keep the photos professional e.g. if there is anything you wouldn’t show to a client in person, it shouldn’t be online; 2) make sure your photos represent your brand well; 3) post shareable photos e.g. think of subjects that others will want to see, events that involve other organizations and you should tag the other organization in your post to announce your new photos; 4) if you’re local, show it off; 5) show off a more personal side of your organization, and 6) add new photos often.
Troy Warren provides insights into how to use Facebook messages to communicate with customers and prospects.
He says, “By offering your customers the option of contacting you on Facebook for customer service issues or questions they may have, you do so in an environment that they are already comfortable in, and spend lots of time using – Facebook.” Troy also suggests that the most convenient part of using Facebook messaging is that each time you become a friend of a business contact (or potential business contact), or they link themselves to your business Page, you immediately have a way of contacting them directly. There’s no need to take the extra step of asking for an email address.
Lisa Barone has some good suggestions for getting more from your Facebook status updates. She suggests: ask questions, use site polls to get user feedback, ask users to “like” statements they agree with, hold contests.
What do Businesses Want to Know from Customers Via Facebook?
According to the results of the Zoomerang study, the top three things businesses want to know from customers via Facebook are: customer satisfaction with products/services, customer satisfaction with service provided, and ideas for new business promotions.
Soliciting Customer Feedback on Facebook
You can use status updates to solicit feedback about your products and services.
Starbucks for example asked for feedback on their new bagels:
“Our bagels are brand new and better than ever. They’re inspired by bagels from the Big Apple. Let us know what you think!”
Ideas for New Business Promotions
Stephanie Gehman discusses ways to use social media for product research and development. She cites examples from VitaminWater who sourced their latest drink flavor from participants on the company’s fan page, United Concordia used Facebook to listen to the needs of their audience. Stephanie suggests that you need to invest time and energy into this process and that it won’t happen on its own, but that it’s worth it.
Angela Hausman suggests that you can use social media for product innovation, and cites an example from SunChips who through listening to their fans on Facebook discovered a complaint that their compostable bags were very noisy and that these kinds of comments likely wouldn’t have shown up using traditional reputation management.
Facebook holds a lot of promise for SMB’s and will provide ample opportunities for businesses to connect with customers, achieve high visibility and find a way to effectively promote themselves.
How are you using Facebook for your small to medium business? What meaningful ways have you found to interact with your prospects and customers?