We were asked these questions by a journalist with a local newspaper and we thought we’d share our answers with you so you too can have a better idea of using Facebook for your small business.
1) How important do you think social media platforms are to businesses nowadays? Are they essential or maybe just a good thing to have?
Social media such as Facebook is definitely essential to Malaysian businesses especially small businesses that may not have the reach or advertising budget of bigger businesses.
Most people will find it easier to search for your company or business on Facebook so you should have a Facebook page set up just for your business (and separate from your personal Facebook profile).
However, many businesses don’t know how to use their Facebook pages effectively.
Many use their Facebook page like a website. A Facebook page is not a website. It shouldn’t replace a website. It is important but its function is different from a website.
Use Facebook as a channel or pipeline to draw people to your website. Use Facebook as a means of advertising if you want to but always bring prospects back to your website to learn more and find out more about your business.
In our book, Web Wisdom, we advocate the use of Facebook page and website together. That’s the best way to use social media effectively.
2) Do you think there are industries that are immune to the growing trend of social media adoption?
If your prospects or customers are not on Facebook, you may not need a Facebook page.
If your business is highly technical or meant for niche industrial uses (i.e. engineering or oil and gas), Facebook may be too informal a platform.
Many Business to Business (B2B) companies may do better with a properly set up LinkedIn page. LinkedIn is better for professionals/businesses (Facebook is more casual and informal).
3) How can businesses start integrating social media into their business functions? How can they succeed on this?
Think of social media (ie. Facebook) as your customer service channel. People who visit your Facebook page will expect you to answer if they message you. Your response time can be seen by all who land on your Facebook page.
Ensure you have someone who is excellent at providing answers quickly when someone messages you via your Facebook page. People don’t like to wait a long time for answers when they message you – they expect instant or almost instantaneous answers.
Never put an intern in charge of your Facebook page – this is your image and if an intern does a bad job, there goes your professional image and brand!
If you are a business owner, you need to find the right person to manage your Facebook page. Get someone with a strong communications background, understands social media and likes being online. This person’s job is to uncover what’s interesting about your business and update this page daily.
Next, learn the best practices for Facebook posting – what is the best time to post (depends on when your audience is online) and what your audience likes to like, see or share. Facebook offers this data to the page administrator.
Make sure you are the one who creates the Facebook account for your business. You can assign roles to your staff to manage the Facebook page (either as an editor, moderator, advertiser, contributor, analyst etc.) but you are the person in control of the page. We have heard stories where the business owner had given her staff full control to create their Facebook page but when the staff resigned, she refused to let her employer have access to the page!
Also, set your expectations right. No one is going to buy your product the moment they see it on your Facebook page. It takes time to build trust and when trust is established, you can think about the sale. Putting your product on Facebook doesn’t always translate into sales. Work to build trust first.
You should also draw up a list of rules for your Facebook page manager such as:
- What kinds of information do you want to share?
- What information is off-limit or confidential?
- How often will updates be posted? Once a day? Twice a day?
- Will you post on weekends?
- Who will answer questions or reply comments on the page?
- What is an acceptable response time?
- What kind of personality do you wish to be on your Facebook page?
- What happens if someone complains at your Facebook page about your service or product? What is your crisis management process like?
Get these questions answered first or someone on your team can make horrible and visible mistakes on your Facebook page.
4) How does a business know if they are utilising social media correctly?
If you use social media correctly, you can see that people will start to know more about your business. Brand awareness is crucial.
People will tell you they’ve heard about your business. If your content updates are good, fans and friends will happily share your posts.
Based on what they see on Facebook, they may visit your retail outlet or buy from your online shop. How do you track this? Ask everyone who comes into your business – where did you hear or know about us? This will give you a benchmark of how good your social media effort is!
Most people think that a huge number of likes is important. To an extent, yes, a high number of likes signals popularity BUT likes don’t necessarily translate into sales or revenue. It is easy to “like” a page because it doesn’t need a big commitment from your fan. It’s much harder to turn the “like” into an actual purchase.
5) Do you have any additional comments you would like to share?
a) It’s useful for non-business organisations too.
Facebook isn’t just for businesses. Non-profit organisations and associations can benefit greatly from Facebook if only they know how to maximise the potential of this platform.
For instance, in the women entrepreneur association (WomenBizSENSE) that I co-founded, we use Facebook to create awareness and reach out to more women.
We put up a lot of updates as well as photos and this creates excitement and shows our audience that we are an active group of women in business. This attracts more women to join us or to be part of our activities. We get a lot of free publicity this way too.
We share what we’re doing as a group, what events are coming up, what the committee is planning and more.
Example, whenever we post up photos of our events and meetings, we tag members and by doing so, their friends will also see what we post. This helps more people find out about our association and grow our membership!
b) It helps you reach out to a highly specific audience.
If you are interested in advertising, Facebook is a good medium especially if you know the audience that you want to reach.
Advertising on Facebook is very targeted and specific – you can reach out to audiences that match your prospect profile.
For instance, if you’re selling women’s clothes and want to advertise, you can get your advertisement on Facebook shown only to women between the ages of 25 to 45, living in Kuching and cites fashion as their interest. This means your advertisement is seen directly by the people who could be your customers.