Every week, I meet with business owners who want to market their companies and engage customers through Facebook. It’s not hard to understand why: with more than a billion registered users worldwide, Facebook is probably second only to Google regarding its reach. If you can get people talking about you and following you on the world’s most popular social network, it’s going to be good for the bottom line.

However, there is a wrinkle to this tale. While attracting customers through search engine optimization is relatively straightforward, social media marketing is altogether different. Even though most business owners use Facebook on a daily basis, I find most don’t have a great idea of what it takes to promote products and services on the same platform they use to share vacation photos. As a result, they either make mistakes that cause them to be ignored or avoid using Facebook as a business tool altogether.

That’s unfortunate because Facebook really can be great for your business. However, you have to know how to use it correctly if you’re going to come across as a professional and stand out on a very crowded social platform.

In this short guide, I’m going to give you the easy and practical tips you need. I want to show you how you can make Facebook work for your business by following a few simple steps.  Let’s take them one by one, starting with an important detail you have to keep in mind…

1) Your Personal Facebook Profile Isn’t the Best Place to Promote Your Business

The first thing you have to know about marketing your business through Facebook is that you shouldn’t be doing it through your personal account.

There are a few good reasons for this. The most important is that you don’t necessarily want your business contacts seeing everything you post about your family, your hobbies, or your favorite sports teams. In the same way, your friends and family might not necessarily be the best audience for business and industry updates. But most of all, keeping the distinction between the two helps you to stay professional.

One of the best things about social media is that it allows us to get together with other like-minded people and comment on things that are happening in our lives and within the world around us. But, there is a time and place for everything. It’s generally not wise to talk about things like politics and religion with customers you don’t know very well, for example, just like you wouldn’t overtly sell your business services at a church or school function.

It’s very easy to set up a dedicated Facebook page for your company. It doesn’t even have to lead back to your personal account if you chose not to. From that page, you can post professional updates, industry news, offers for products and services, etc. Anyone who follows the feed will see the post as coming from the company, not you as an individual.

2) Setting up Your Facebook Business Page

As I’ve mentioned, it’s incredibly simple to set up your Facebook business page. You begin by logging into your personal account and then finding the “pages” tab on the left. From there, you simply “create a page” and specify that it’s for your business (as opposed to a band, celebrity, etc.).

I want to point out once again that creating a page from your personal profile makes you the primary administrator (although you can also designate others, as well). It does not let fans and customers view your personal information, or even necessarily be able to see that you have created the business page. The new profile exists as a separate entity.

After you have created the page, there are a couple of steps you should take. The first is to upload some custom photos and graphics. These could include your own picture, a photo of your retail storefront, your company logo, or something altogether different. What you’re looking for is a visual that will show customers they have found your specific company on Facebook if they’ve been searching for you.

Next, you’ll want to ensure your contact information is up-to-date. Because Facebook business pages are built for lead generation and referral purposes, it’s important for customers to be able to find you, both elsewhere on the web and in the real world. Additionally, your Facebook business page can be crawled and indexed by Google, so you’ll want contact details to match those found on your website.

Finally, you may consider giving your Facebook business page a custom URL. This is essentially your “username” for the company on Facebook and can make it easier for people to locate you. So, if your business name happens to be available than snap it up.

3) Connecting With Customers and Colleagues

Just like your personal profile, your Facebook business page is only useful when you have connections within your network. While your company might not have “friends,” you should always be looking to expand your web of fans, followers, and associates.

There are a couple of ways to get the ball rolling. The first is to simply request “likes” for the page from your personal account. If you have colleagues or customers who already know you as an individual, Facebook makes it easy to send them automated invitations. You simply ask them to like your business page and wait for them to respond. In this case, they’ll know it was you who setup the page since the request will originate from your personal account.

That’s a good start, and it can help you get your first few followers. However, you won’t want to stop there. To keep your network growing, and really make an impact with Facebook marketing, you need to post material to your business page that encourages engagement. In other words, you should post content that’s related to your company or industry and will grab attention from the buyers you want to target.

4) What to Post to Your Facebook Business Page

Naturally, there isn’t any single type of content you should post your Facebook business page. A lot is going to depend on your industry, value proposition, and your personality is a marketer.

There are some good rules of thumb you can follow, though. The first is always try to stay on message. That is, post things that relate to your company or industry, rather than sharing random, unfocused thoughts with the world. You could provide links to current news items about your business, quick tips for your customers, or even previews of your blog posts. You can also use your Facebook business page to promote testimonials, discounts, and special events.

Each of these helps you to build interest in whatever you have to sell while keeping buyers engaged and looking forward to future posts. They help to establish your brand and credibility while giving those fans and followers a reason to click through to your website or to share the content you have posted with other people (who may, in turn, become fans and followers themselves).

In general, it’s best to use images and videos to spread your marketing messages whenever you can. That’s good advice for social media marketing in general, and on Facebook in particular. Most users will scroll through their feeds quickly, only stopping at something that grabs their attention. You want your posts and content to stand out, so use visual mediums.

One study found that image-based posts were more than TEN times as likely to be noticed and commented on than text posts. With more and more Facebook users scrolling through their feeds on phones and tablets, you can bet the preference for visual content is only going to increase in the coming months and years.

5) What NOT to Post to Your Facebook Business Page

Just as important as knowing to post business and industry-related information with images on Facebook is knowing the materials not to use. This is an area where a lot of business owners tend to shoot themselves in the feet and lose followers and customers in a flash.

As a rule, you should stay away from controversy on your Facebook business page. Some items you might feel comfortable posting to your family and friends, might not be appropriate for customers and colleagues. Obviously, most material within the realm of politics, religion, and other sensitive topics. So too will bits of humor that might be risqué or potentially offensive. If you wouldn’t bring up something during a job interview, don’t post it to your Facebook business page.

Also, note these rules may apply to your personal pages as well, especially if you are closely tied to your business. If there is a chance buyers or colleagues will look you up personally on Google or Facebook before working with your company, you don’t want them to come across anything that makes you seem unprofessional or less than competent.

There are also privacy concerns at play. You never want to unintentionally reveal something about yourself, your business, or your customers that you wouldn’t want the general public to see. Marketers routinely learn that lesson the hard way when they accidentally share sensitive information or confidential data. Don’t be the next business owner to make this all-too-common mistake.

None of this is to suggest you can’t have any personality on Facebook, whether it’s on your business page or your personal profile. On the contrary, people love seeing pictures of families and pets, behind-the-scenes shots of a business owner hard at work, and funny pictures or memes. You shouldn’t be afraid to have some fun with your Facebook business page or show off your lighter side. Just use common sense and think twice before putting anything questionable on the Internet if it could hurt your bottom line.

6) How Your Facebook Business Page Helps Your Company

To this point, I have focused on the things you should do to establish and grow your Facebook business page, but I haven’t shared how you’re actually going to profit from these activities. So, how does posting content and growing your following translate into new sales opportunities?

There are several ways you can turn your Facebook presence into a source of strength for your company. The first is by creating a larger digital footprint. When lots of people are following your business on social media, and commenting on what you post, their friends and contacts end up seeing your activity in their feeds as well. So, if you get good reaching out and sharing interesting pictures and videos, you could see your campaigns take on a kind of viral quality where your following doubles again and again in a short period of time.

The bigger your following gets, the more opportunities you have to promote your products, services, and ideas. Some fans will check out your blog or sign up for your email newsletter. Others may register for events or use online coupons you’ve offered. Several might do all of these things, virtually guaranteeing that they’ll eventually become customers.

Additionally, a strong social following enhances your online reputation. It makes you more visible on Google and the other search engines and helps you to gather lots of positive online reviews. When you have a large social contact list with people saying good things about your products, prices, customer service, or locations, it gets easier for new potential buyers or clients to take a chance and work with you themselves.

Naturally, the same thing applies to vendors and colleagues. When people hear good things about you and your company, they become more open to partnering with you on their projects. You might even be able to recruit better employees when your Facebook reputation is strong enough.

Another big benefit of having a healthy social following is that it gives you more opportunities to interact with buyers in a one-on-one basis. That means you can build your brand, create buyer loyalty, and better understand what customers want from you.

7) Growing and Managing Your Facebook Presence

Hopefully, you’re beginning to understand why establishing a Facebook presence can be a great thing for your company. However, taking advantage of those benefits requires you to put in the effort needed to setup your pages, put together some messaging, and attract a following. In other words, you can’t enjoy the payoff until you get started. Remember: You will get out of Facebook what you put in.

Luckily, I’ve given you the steps you need to follow already. And in truth, none of them are difficult. The hardest part of the process is simply persevering in the very beginning when it might feel like you’re posting content for a very small audience.

Approach your social media marketing efforts in the right way, though, and you won’t get that impression for very long. That’s because your Facebook business page can take off pretty quickly. Then, you’ll just have to keep the momentum going with lots of new content and fresh promotions.

Once you start to see sales, leads, and engagement coming from your Facebook business page, don’t forget you should constantly be refining your approach to see if some new ideas or messages will yield even bigger results. You can review your web analytics, along with Facebook’s Insights package, to figure out which posts are resonating with your audience, where your traffic is coming from, and what kinds of buyers are most attracted to your offers. You can use that data to get smarter and more efficient over time. It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to reach out to customers through Facebook, Google, or old-fashioned direct mail – it’s all about learning to get better as you go.

For now, though, you have everything you need to get started on Facebook. I hope you’ll take my advice to launch a business profile today and see what kind of difference it can make in your marketing!

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About Glenn Brooks

Glenn Brooks is the founder of WebWize, Inc. WebWize has been providing web design, development, hosting, SEO and email services since 1994. Glenn graduated from SWTSU with a degree in Commercial Art and worked in the advertising, marketing and printing industries before starting WebWize.