Are you a local business owner or manager? In other words, do your customers come from a defined geographic radius in relation to your establishment?
If you’re like many local business owners, you’re hesitant to advertise and market your business right now, given the uncertain and challenging times. It may feel insensitive or greedy.
But even in a down economy:
- You still need to promote your business.
- You still need to continue to stand out and attract customers.
- You don't want people to forget about you.
One of the best ways to market your business in both bad times and good times is already in your hands. And, you can make it start working for you as soon as today ... and do it with sensitivity.
I’m referring to your Facebook business page.
In this article, you’ll discover Facebook business page tips that get you to stand out locally ... without using Facebook ads.
Why Facebook for Local Business?
Facebook is the first place many consumers turn to for local business, even in a Google-dominated world.
The reason is that Google search results are fairly anonymous—we typically don’t know the people making the recommendations we see.
However, Facebook prioritizes search results by how much our friends and connections have engaged with a local business. Those get listed first.
That’s the whole point of Facebook company pages, to help you find local businesses that you can trust, because your friends and family are happy with them.
And that’s the incredible power of a Facebook company page as a tool for local business.
Let’s take a step back. Remember that “marketing” in its broadest sense is simply the act of communicating with your clients. Such communication should always be done with the client in mind, no matter what is going on in the world.
Now, however, we’re in a unique situation because the entire world has one primary concern—how to remain healthy, both personally and professionally.
Our communication, that is, our marketing, should naturally be respectful of the fact that many are struggling. So how do we continue to promote our businesses in an effective and engaging manner? In a way that reflects the times we live in and that is respectful of our customers?
The first part of the solution is our Facebook company page. The second part has to do with the type of content we post, which is VERY important! I’ll get to that in a couple minutes.
Even if you hate Facebook, and I confess I’m not exactly a big fan, if you run a local business, you must HAVE and USE a Facebook company page, now more so than ever.
Also, even though Facebook business pages are often neglected, sometimes for good reason, I’ll show you how to get past those obstacles to make it start working for you as soon as you get started.
Why a Facebook Business Page is Essential for Local Companies
Online shopping statistics tell part of the story:
- 97% of consumers check a company’s online presence before deciding to visit them.
- 80% of local searches convert.
- “Near me” searches—those in which a customer is looking for a local business—have increased more than 500% in the past few years.
All of this means if you don’t have an online “local” presence, you’re leaving a ton of money on the table.
Let’s go back to that 97% number.
It means pretty much every store visit is preceded by an online visit. The 80% conversion number tells us the consumers’ intent is extremely high. In other words, they WILL buy when they find what they’re looking for. If they don’t see you in their search, the prospect heads to the first company that’s visible.
As far as online presence goes, Google is the mother of all search engines ... certainly not to be ignored for online visibility.
While it’s important to claim your Google My Business page and to have your own website, that’s only part of the local search equation.
Also, the downside to Google is that when you do a search for a local business, you're mostly seeing recommendations from people you don't know. And smart businesses work hard to skew results in their favor. After all, that’s what SEO is all about. Then there are the unethical companies who stoop to using fake reviews.
However, Facebook's importance to you stems from this:
Facebook’s search algorithm prioritizes recommendations from YOUR friends, family and community.
So, when someone does a search, for example, on "restaurants Sparta NJ", it first delivers results from their friends who have liked a local business, or checked in, or otherwise engaged with that company.
In the screenshot below, my top three results are listed because these establishments were visited by my Facebook friends. The results also identify my friends (the blurred out section on the screenshot) which instantly establishes a connection and a level of trust.
If you were to do a similar search, your top results would likely differ according to which of your friends had been there.
Think about it like this … you'll trust a referral from someone you know over an anonymous result from anywhere in the world. Facebook only adds results from the wider, unknown community when data is lacking in your circle of friends. This is where Facebook has a significant advantage over Google.
Also, because Facebook allows reviews and comments about local businesses, consumers often turn to Facebook first to find you before they search Google. So, if you rely on clients within a geographic area, a Facebook page can carry more weight and be more important to growing your revenue than your website. That bears repeating…
If you don’t have a Facebook page, the consumer thinks:
- You’re hiding something
- You’re not doing well
- You’re not up to date
The result: they turn to your competitors who DO have a page. And it’s likely they won’t bother with the Google search.
If you DO have a page but it’s inactive (you’re not posting or engaging with customers), it plants the seeds of uncertainty:
- Are you still in business?
- Are you doing OK?
- How much do you really care about your business and customers if you don’t care about your own page, about how you present yourself to the public?
Once uncertainty is planted in the consumer’s mind, it’s hard to overcome.
Local Business Must HAVE and USE a Facebook Company Page
What all this means to you as a local business owner: Because of the weight that Facebook referrals carry, and because consumers often go to Facebook first, your local business MUST have and use a Facebook company page, even in a Google-dominated world.
Buffer created a guide on how to create the perfect Facebook Business Page. They found that posting at LEAST one or more times per day, every day, is what satisfies the Facebook algorithm and gets results. Facebook considers that kind of page to be an “active” page.
And to enhance your visibility, of course it’s important to engage with everyone who posts, comments, reacts to, or shares on your company page, and to respond to all messages you get.
I’m getting to the type of content in a second, so bear with me.
Before we do, it’s important to note that there are even more reasons to keep your page active that have to do with what’s happening in the world today.
The Surge in Facebook Usage
It may feel like the worst time to think about marketing, but it’s quite the opposite. It’s an opportune time … one that we might not get for a long time, if ever again in our lifetimes. There are two reasons for this.
First, people are glued to mobile devices at home. An article about Facebook on Marketwatch.com said,
"The social-networking giant said total messaging across the platform’s services in the previous month had increased 50% in countries ravaged by the virus, with video messaging on Messenger and WhatsApp more than doubling. In Italy, time spent on Facebook has soared 70% since it was hard hit by the crisis."
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said,
“People want to stay connected while being asked to maintain social distancing and eliminate loneliness.”
A good chunk of the world’s population, including your local community, is glued to Facebook. And while it might seem strange, Facebook is also the primary source of news for most.
The second reason is that advertiser spending has declined significantly. It’s a fraction of what it was weeks ago. That’s bad for Facebook, but an opportunity for organic, non-promotional posts.
The Real ROI to a Facebook Presence
In addition to nearly the whole world being on Facebook, there is a solid return on investment to companies who are active on the site.
- 88% of people trust what friends (and even strangers) say on Facebook about businesses.
- 70% of purchases at local businesses can be traced back to social media.
Facebook’s search feature (and there are over 1 billion searches per day) is designed to help people connect to their favorite local businesses, and to do it through the people they know.
Then there are Facebook Groups, the digital form of word-of-mouth marketing. Every town and city has relevant groups in which people discuss all kinds of business referrals, according to their interest. But you must have a Facebook business page to show up in these discussions.
It’s easy to see that an active page increases engagement, builds awareness, leads to repeat purchases and brings in new customers. Engagement is everything on Facebook, but it all starts with having a business page with daily, consistent activity.
If that’s the case…
Why Are So Many Facebook Business Pages Ghost Towns?
I did my own informal survey of local businesses and found about 90% of Facebook company pages are ghost towns. (There are studies that confirm this on a larger scale.) What I mean by “ghost town” is that they have a page but are inactive or sporadic.
Many pages I saw hadn’t posted for 1-3 years and more. If the benefits I talked about are real—and they are—why, then, do so many businesses neglect their pages?
A lot has to do with entrepreneurial life. For example, perhaps you created a page, filled in some content and began posting occasionally. In time you stopped because:
- You got swamped with work (a common reason).
- You felt it wasn’t worthwhile.
- You didn’t know what kind of content to post.
- Or if you did, you didn’t have time to create the content, never mind posting a few times a day.
I’ve fallen prey to all of these on various social channels over the years.
While I wouldn’t recommend it, e-commerce or virtual businesses might get away with an inactive page. But for local businesses, the company page is too important to skip.
However, there IS a solution. There IS a way to turn your ghost town page into a vibrant, engaging local community. A community that reminds clients and prospects you’re there for them. That keeps you top of mind and reminds them you’re not going anywhere. That attracts new clients.
The solution is visual content.
Visual Content on Facebook Will Make Your Local Business Stand Out
Visual content campaigns that post every day to your page are proven to:
- Make you stand out in local search,
- Get you more online referrals,
- Get more engagement and repeat sales from current customers, and
- Get more customers in the door.
According to Facebook, visual content, including graphics and videos, outperforms plain text in engagement. People do not ignore visual content. A great visual piece stops them from scrolling through their feed. It captures attention.
Hubspot's 12 Do's and Don'ts of Using Facebook for Business confirms this:
"Your content can generate up to 94% more views if you add compelling visual elements and graphics. Use of visual content in Facebook campaigns generates 65% more engagement after only one month."
The Formula for a Facebook Page That Does What You Need it to Do!
The simple formula for an "active" Facebook business page is this: post visual content two or more times a day to your Facebook page, seven days a week.
It removes uncertainty from your client’s mind. A well-constructed, active page helps you get found in local search. And when your customers find you in local search, 80% of them convert—whether that’s an online order, foot traffic in your store, an email or a phone call.
Visual content is also perfect for these strange times. It’s great in ordinary times, which is why I’m so devoted to it.
But right now, it’s a non-obtrusive, non-salesy way to stay top-of-mind with your customers. To remind them you’re there for them now or will be when things return to normal. And then, as you move into the good times again, visual content keeps working for you.
It’s really a timeless way to promote your business effectively, without being annoying or pushy.
Two Kinds of Visuals for Your Facebook Company Page
There are two approaches to this: DIY (do it yourself) and DFY (done-for-you).
DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Visual Content
DIY is straightforward. You create compelling visuals or videos and follow the formula:
- Post 2-3 times a day, or assign an employee to do it. You can even get software to help automate the task for you.
- Then be sure to reply to or engage with anyone who likes, comments on, or shares your images. That will multiply the effectiveness of your visual posting campaign.
A good DIY platform is Adobe Spark (and I’m not affiliated with them). It’s an online platform that lets you quickly make graphics and short videos sized for your Facebook page. You can start with the free version and upgrade when you’re ready. Visme and Canva are two other excellent visual platforms.
The downside to DIY:
You have to consistently devote time to create your own original content. That commitment is important. It takes time to post daily whether it’s you or an employee. You have to find, learn about and maintain software for automated posting.
Let’s look at some real-world numbers.
The mean cost of office wages, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, is about $31/hour (which includes taxes and benefits).
- Create 2 images/day (60 images/month) @ 15 minutes/image = 15 hours
- Post 2X day using software = 4 hours/month
- Total Cost/month = 19 hours/month X $31 = $589
If you have time and resources to do this, even at this cost it’s probably less than a monthly digital ad campaign and more effective.
DFY (Done-for-You) Visual Content
If you don’t have those kinds of resources, DFY visual content is even easier and with the right vendor, it’s far more affordable.
I’ve always been a big systems guy, ever since my days in printing. I like to figure out ways to streamline and automate complex tasks, to do them faster and without extra labor or other costs.
To that end I’ve compiled a large collection of specially-crafted images suitable for a number of local business niches and created Local Social Link™, a Facebook visual content delivery system designed specifically for local businesses.
It provides a solid, hands-free Facebook engagement campaign to make your customers think of you when they need your product or service, and promotes your business in good times and bad.
These are the kinds of local businesses that benefit from niche-specific visual content from Local Social Link™:
- Auto Repair Shops
- Cannabis Dispensaries
- Coffee Shops
- Donut Shops
- Eyelash Salons
- Hair Salons
- HVAC Services
- Insurance Providers
- Nail Salons
- Personal Trainers
- Pest Control Services
- Real Estate Professionals
- Yoga Studios
Don’t let your local business be forgotten. With Local Social Link™ you’ll have an effective Facebook campaign in place that never runs out. It continues to recycle and engage customers, month after month, with zero effort on your part.
Learn more about and purchase Local Social Link™ here.
Final Thoughts on Facebook for Your Local Business
You probably have a Facebook company page already set up. (And if not, it only takes minutes to set up a new Facebook business page.) It’s proven that the company page is essential to remain top-of-mind with your local customers. And it’s proven that visual content gets the kind of engagement and response that a local business needs to survive. Whether you do it yourself or use a micro-service like Local Social Link™, a Facebook business page campaign is one of the best types of marketing strategies for local business.