It’s hard to remember a time without Facebook at this point. Once a niche product for college students, the social media behemoth now boasts more than 2.9 billion active monthly users. With almost a third of the world’s population on the platform, chances are that your target audience is on as well.
No business, large or small, can afford to ignore having a presence on Facebook at this point. It’s one of the first places customers turn when looking for information on a new product or service.
Unfortunately, cracking Facebook’s algorithm is harder than ever these days. Just posting updates and hoping your audience will see it isn’t enough. You need to be clever and work hard to get your followers to talk about your business and recommend your posts, content, products, and services to their friends. It’s an essential part of any company’s SEO and digital marketing strategy.
Fighting Against the Algorithm
Back when Facebook first launched, getting your message across to your audience was easy. If you posted and people liked your page, they’d see your post. Sadly, those days are long gone. It’s more difficult than ever to crack the algorithm and have your post appear in front of your audience, even if it’s getting solid interactions.
Basically, Facebook received a ton of feedback from users that too much business content was cluttering up people’s feeds. So, they built the algorithm to favor posts from friends and other people over posts from businesses (even if your business is sharing content that really matters to your customers). Adding to the algorithm woes is that pretty much every business in existence has a Facebook page now and is competing for those few precious post spots that can crack through the algorithm.
But there’s hope. Starting in 2018, Facebook began rolling out updates designed to help local businesses reach their customer’s feeds. These updates included:
- Redesigning the mobile experience so users can view Facebook Stories, make appointments, view recent content, and more.
- Changing the older “Reviews” to “Recommendations”, and made this feature easier to find on business pages.
- Featuring and expanding the Facebook ‘Job Finder” tool to make it easier for Facebook users to find jobs with local businesses.
- New additions to the “Events” feature that make it easy for local businesses to plan and sell tickets to their events directly on Facebook.
While these updates don’t completely reverse the changes to the algorithm, they go a long way to helping small businesses get some of their organic reach back. A savvy small business that pays attention to these changes and implements them in their SEO marketing strategy can boost its performance over others that miss out on the nuances of the changes.
By taking advantage of these tools and updates, you can increase your audience base, hopefully resulting in increased sales. Here are a few of our tips on using Facebook to connect with your local audience.
Pinpoint Your Company’s Location
This tip is essential for anyone who does business through a physical location (but shouldn’t be ignored even if most of your work is virtual). One of the main things a customer is looking for when they search for a business is where they’re located. Make it easier for those customers to find you by taking advantage of Facebook’s options for this.
Unless you’re a completely new technology user, you understand where status updates are posted on Facebook. You’ll also have noticed additional options included within each post, like tagging friends, posting photos, or expressing emotions with emojis. A vital option within this area for businesses is the option to Check-In where they are or where the photo was taken.
You need to ensure your information is there when users click this option. When they click, they’ll see a list of nearby places or suggestions. They can add in a location, but most users will not add a location that isn’t easy for them to add. So, make it as painless and easy as possible for them.
This function was originally called Places when Facebook first launched it in 2010. You’ll still find a Places tab available for you if you search on Facebook. Be sure you’re taking advantage of this handy geolocation tool so that users can pinpoint their location and share it with their friends and followers. You never know. Someone might see the post and realize, “Hey, that’s nearby. I should give it a look.”
Adding Your “Place” for Your Business on Facebook
Taking advantage of the Places area of Facebook isn’t automatically done for you. Before customers can check in with you, you need to add the option to your official business page on Facebook. Hopefully, most of you have already set this up for your business. But if you haven’t yet set up your Facebook Places, here are the steps you’ll need to follow to get setup:
- When you are physically at your place of business, log in to your Facebook account
- Click the “Check-In” link in the Facebook status box
- Click on the “Add” button to the left of the Check Inbox
- Enter the name of your business and a brief description
- Click the Add button at the bottom of the form
This adds your Place to Facebook, but you’re not done yet. You’ll still need to verify that you are the business owner (so random people or competitors can’t send your customers on a wild goose chase). To confirm that you are the business owner:
- Use the Facebook search bar to search for your business
- Once you’ve found it, click the result in the Places tab
- Click the “Is this your business?” link on the left side of the page.
- Follow the instructions to verify your business via phone.
You might find that a customer has already added your business to Places for a check-in that happened sometime in the past when adding your business. If this is the case, simply click the “Is this your business” link and follow the instructions to verify your business with Facebook. Then, you’ll be up and running and ready for your customers to find you.
Take Your Places Page Further
Now that you have your business set up in Facebook Places, here are some additional features you can use to your advantage.
Obviously, you’ll want to take advantage of check-ins at your local business. An excellent way to push this activity is to simply ask. Sadly, people are much more likely to share a negative experience than a positive one. But, with some gentle nudging, like through a sign reminding people to check-in, you can increase your chances of a customer checking in. Customers will be even more likely to check-in if you include a discount or freebie to further entice them to use this feature.
You’ll also want to update your Places page with all the latest information about your business. Be sure to double and triple-check every detail to ensure it matches up with what’s on Google and other listing sites. Check your address, phone number, business hours, etc., to ensure every period and abbreviation is the same across all listings.
Be sure to spruce things up with photos and general information about your business. Don’t be afraid to humanize your company by showing “behind the scenes” type photos.
Be Brave and Embrace the Reviews
If you’re feeling bold, be sure to take advantage of the power of Recommendations. Many businesses worry too much about what customers will say about them online and turn this feature off. However, social proofs are an integral part of any digital marketing campaign as they are an excellent selling point for customers that shouldn’t be avoided. There are even times when you can convert a customer by how you handle a negative review.
Customers will see Recommendations right at the top of your Facebook business page. There, customers can:
- Upload photographs
- Choose what they specifically recommend, i.e. which service or product
- Write short reviews
You’ll need to turn on Recommendations, though, for it to go on your page. Go to Settings, Edit Page, and then look for a section called Tabs. In there, choose the option “Choose Default Tabs” and then add the Reviews tab to your page.
Remember, you can always turn this feature off if you find customers or competitors abusing it. But often, it becomes a trusted and loved section of your page that allows you to interact with and hear from your loyal customers.
Connecting with Your Audience
Empowered with this new knowledge, you can move forward with increasing your visibility on Facebook by:
- Optimizing your Facebook Places page
- Then, ask customers to check in when they arrive at your business
- Next, encourage them to leave recommendations and upload photos
- Finally, include a Review button in your marketing emails and on your website and encourage your satisfied customers to come back and review their experiences
By showing your future customers how many happy customers you’ve already helped, you help give the social proof necessary to convert them from potential into active customers.
While it’s still challenging for small businesses to develop a digital marketing strategy that can fight the Facebook algorithm (without having to buy ads), there is hope. Facebook Places and Facebook Recommendations make it possible for local businesses to work around the algorithm limitations on organic traffic and grow their businesses.
Please reach out to us if you worry about the time required or feel like you lack the technical skills to complete any of this. We’re here to help your online digital marketing needs. Schedule a call with us today.