Each morning when you log into Facebook, you may be greeted by a “memory”: a post you shared in a prior year that the site’s algorithm thinks you might want to revisit. The fact that this feature even exists is that Facebook has been around long enough now that it’s practically a time capsule of the past decade of our lives.
So we all know the right way to use it… right?
Well, if you use it at all, I’m sure it’s obvious to you that we don’t all know the right way to use social media. And it gets even tougher when you throw business interests into the mix. But these best practices will get you on the right track to successfully using Facebook to inform, entertain, engage with, and be found by your customers.
Profiles and Pages and Groups, Oh My!
As an individual user of Facebook, you start with (and likely have) a personal profile. That’s important not only for your personal use, but it serves as the gateway for you to be able to create other business-related assets. In fact, without a personal profile, you can’t create Facebook pages or groups.
But your personal Facebook profile is not your business. In this case, the saying is very true: you do you. Keep your business separate from your personal profile, aside from where it makes sense to share something work-related with your friends and acquaintances. But you are not your business. It should stand alone.
Your business also isn’t a person, so resist the urge to create another account so that your business gets a profile. Rather, through your personal account (or Facebook Business Manager) you create a page for your business. The page will be your public “home base” on Facebook for your business.
Groups provide a great opportunity to connect with segments of your customers, and Facebook has recently brought to businesses the ability to create their own groups (which used to be reserved for individual users). Groups can be used in several ways for powerful business benefits:
- Public: for general opt-in interest, public groups can allow people interested in your products or services to join freely and show their affinity for your brand. The audience will be broader, but their interest in your brand and group will help reach their connections as they see their membership. All posts are public.
- Closed: an admin or member must add new members to a closed group (or grant their join request), and posts are only viewable by members. But otherwise, the group’s existence and membership is publicly visible. This is a great format for people to request access to a group focused on more specific interests within your business. Consider creating closed groups around different industry segments that you serve, or product lines. Publicize the group availability and encourage customers to request they be added. This is also valuable for community support once customers have bought a certain product or service.
- Secret: assembling a secret group isn’t a fit for every business, but for companies that focus on or incorporate consulting, training, or eduction, this can be a valuable tool. Group sizes would likely be small, focused, and would have the emotional benefit of exclusivity. Members must be added by an admin or another member.
Your business is, as we’ve established, not a person—but it does (or should) have a voice. Document “who” the company would be if it were a person, and how the brand speaks:
- “We” or “I”?
- Vocabulary to use (or avoid)?
- Topics to speak about or avoid (e.g., politics)?
- When and how to respond to comments—both positive and negative?
Customers Are Looking for You
The lines between search engines (like Google and Bing) and Facebook long ago blurred when it came to “finding” things online. Many Facebook users search not only for friends and Facebook-related features, but also search for businesses, brands, and their interests. So even if you aren’t very active with your Facebook business page, the company profile should be top notch and truly reflect your brand, provide valuable information, and link back prominently to your website.
Customers Are on Their Way
Google Maps isn’t the only resource for finding directions that your customers are using to find your location. Facebook integrates with maps services too—both on desktop and mobile—to provide driving or walking directions. Optimize your business profile with your address so that customers can get directions with a click. And for any events or offsite activities you want the public to know about, make sure the location address is included.
Aside from all these “organic” features, Facebook advertising is one of the most powerful advertising platforms around. And as usage on the site has exploded, Facebook has pushed business pages down in organic listings so much that advertising is likely a necessary part of your social media marketing mix. This warrants an article (or series) all on its own, but adopting Facebook advertising (and the ability to also access Instagram ads through the platform) is absolutely worth investigating for your business.
Social media platforms are designed to be relatively user-friendly, because there’s no advantage to the platforms if they drive away users with a clunky and difficult interface. However, powerful systems are bound to still be complex, and ever more so for business users making use of multiple features. The way you use your personal Facebook profile is quite different from how you use it for your company and brand. But don’t be afraid to make use of the platform—never before in history has “everyone’s doing it” been so true!