Do you run a small business?

Most small businesses heavily rely on social media platforms like Facebook in order to reach their audience, increase traffic, make sales and build their brand.

In an effort to support small businesses and to help them use the social media platform to marketing more effectively, Facebook ran a ‘Boost your Business 2015′ seminar earlier this week.

Lead by Facebook’s Director of Small Business, Jonathan Czaja, along with a panel of successful small business executives, the team shared the ins and the outs of marketing on Facebook and some interesting case studies.

Nearly 400 people showed up for the event and these are the top five suggestions that were shared by the expert panel:

1. Tell a Story

When it comes to marketing on Facebook Czaja believes the most important thing to do is to create a story and get people interested in a personal event or situation.

For example, Czaja highlighted that one small plumbing company was able to engage readers by humanising their employees and highlighting their hobbies and interests. One staff member in particular attracted a lot of attention as he enjoyed doing needlepoint in his spare time.

By sharing information like that people are more likely to relate to your company and brand and are also more likely to remember you when they need a service that you offer.

With so many businesses advertising on Facebook, sharing a story can also help your brand to stand out from the crowd.


2. Focus on People You Care About

Reaching a specific demographic is critical when it comes to marketing on Facebook just because of the sheer volume of users, posts and advertisers.

To achieve this, Czaja suggested making use of Facebook’s targeting tools such as age and gender etc., to ensure more effective results and a more effective use of the marketing budget.

He also suggested that small business owners should heavily rely on targeting people close to their place of business as customers are often more likely to support a business in their local neighbourhood.

3. Measure Results

Czaja also used this conference as an opportunity to remind small business owners that Facebook offers conversion pixels that allow businesses to track how many people come to their website from the social network and how many of these people make a sale or carry through a specific call to action.

By measuring your results, Czaja believes that you can learn to see what is working effectively and what may need improvement.

For many small businesses, Facebook plays a key role in marketing and advertising so by understanding your metrics you can really use it to your advantage.

4. Access Facebook Groups

Whether you choose to create your own group or join an established one, groups are a great way to target a specific audience and build a loyal following. Remember, joining Groups on Facebook is not just about spamming content, it is also about building a following and trust amongst people with similar interests.

Amber Gunn Thomas, founder of The Patchery also stated that she used private Facebook groups to get feedback from her family and friends before launching her startup. Her group has now expanded to include other fans, but because engagement on the group was initially high, it was able to attract a larger following.

Using groups on Facebook is also a great way for small businesses to network and find other service providers or people in a similar line of work.

5. Engage with your Audience

Taking the time to respond to your fans and followers and finding new ways to engage with them is important when it comes to establishing your business on Facebook.

Aside from responding to comments and likes, it also pays to run competitions, ask questions, run polls, post pictures and also offer freebies and giveaways.

Having social features on your main website such as a ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ button can also help engage readers and followers and help to build a strong presence on your Facebook page.


6. Target Celebrities or Trending Topics

One example that the Facebook panel provided was from the vegan meat store, The Herbivorous Butcher. They got some attention last year after the US talk show host, Jimmy Fallon criticised the idea of meatless-meat. Using Fallon’s comments to their advantage, the CFO, Ryan Strandjor posted an image of Fallon with the tagline “Too scared to try vegan meats”. The image went viral and many vegan activists helped to bring a lot of press coverage to the story.

There are many ways that you can use celebrities and other trending stories in the media to bring attention to you brand or services. Be creative and don’t be afraid to step out of the box and take a risk.

Small businesses are one of the leading advertisers on Facebook- how are you going to stand out from the crowd?