Growing Your Local Business Using Facebook

Grandma is on there. Your weird cousin Jimmy is on there. Heck, your freakin’ dog might be on there. What initially started as one man’s creepy “hot or not” app (yes, it’s true) has become a global social media juggernaut called Facebook. Just how big are they? Here are some absolutely bonkers stats:

People using Facebook
  • 34% of the entire global population uses Facebook. That’s over 3 billion active users. (Facebook)
  • 71% of American adults use Facebook. (Pew Research Center)
  • Over 160 million businesses use Facebook apps to connect with customers and grow their businesses. (Facebook)

And though Facebook has drawn controversy at times, they still stand as one of the most effective platforms for helping local businesses connect with customers geographically close to them. If you run any business with a brick-and-mortar store, local customers, and huge emphasis on in-person interactions (what we’d call a local business), you need to be using Facebook.

You’re probably thinking “no duh, my business is already on Facebook!” Great start, my dude, but are you using it to its full potential? Is it generating new customers or is it something you feel you must do because everyone else does? If you’re not sure, here are some questions we’ll answer:

  • How do I make sure my page is in tip-top shape?
  • How do I effectively engage with customers or prospects on Facebook?
  • What kind of stuff should I be posting and how often?
  • How do I get more Facebook reviews and what are the advantages?

Let’s get to it!

Auditing Your Facebook Page

It’s worthwhile to review some Facebook listing basics before we get to the nitty gritty. There are hundreds of things you can change in your Facebook account, but below are a few key things you’ll want to have sorted before we move on. As you look at your Facebook page, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the imagery on my page (profile image, banner, etc.) represent my brand well? If you need to freshen it up, Fiverr has a lot of designers who do great work on a limited budget.
  • Does the messaging in my bio accurately portray what we do? Does it explore the types of benefits we provide our customers?
  • Is all my info up to date? Address, phone number, etc.?
  • Is Facebook Messenger set up correctly so my team can see inquiries as they come in? (We’ll explore this in detail in the next section).
  • Are appropriate members of my team set up as administrators, so they can answer questions or post on my page?

Swell Facebook home
Our Facebook page. Not too bad, eh?

Engaging With Customers

Social media should be (you guessed it) social. Facebook puts your business and thousands—maybe millions of your potential customers in the same place. You have a unique opportunity to harness the power of the social media to convert prospects into customers and to turn customers in to stark raving fans. On Facebook, there are essentially two ways to interact with customers. You’ll, of course, be familiar with all of these, but there are nuances to interacting with people through each that are worth discussion.

Facebook Messenger

Facebook messages sent

Not sure your customers will use Facebook Messenger? Well, given that over 100 billion messages are sent over Facebook every day, it’s safe to say they will. Messenger is an easy way for customers and prospects to ask you questions. If you don’t have this feature turned on, visit your page settings, then click General. Under Messages, make sure you have the box ticked, then save changes. Once set up, you can add some neat stuff to your messaging tool, so your visitors can get the info they need, without you even needing to chat with them. Here are a couple cool things to try:

  • Set Up a Greeting – Inside Settings, click Messaging. Here you can create a custom greeting for people who open the chat. Instead of a blank window, someone gets a warm greeting like “Hey there! What can we help you with?”
  • Set up Automated Responses – Automated responses help your visitors get the information they need without you needing to manually reply. You can setup things like away messages for when your team is unavailable, FAQs that can answer common questions, and much more. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the tools here so you can make it as easy as possible for customers and prospects to get the info they need.
Swell Message icon
  • Aggregate Customer Messages – This step is optional but recommended. These days, your customers might reach out through Facebook Messenger, over text message, or even through an online chat on your website. As customers reach out to your business in new ways, it becomes more and more difficult to answer their questions quickly. Trouble is, if you don’t answer quickly, they might find one of your competitors who can—and who do you think wins their trust in that scenario? Rather than let that happen, many businesses use Swell Message to bring together all the messages they receive into one convenient screen. This way, it’s easy to respond to customers right away, no matter which channel they use. Best of all, you can keep track of a single conversation across channels. Even if it starts on Facebook Messenger but moves to text message, it’s all in one tidy thread. Tools like this make it super easy to give your customers and prospects the service they deserve.

Posts and Comments

Facebook posts comprise the best and the worst of humanity. All those dank memes. The cat vids. The political ramblings of your tin-hat wearing uncle—it’s all there. With so much content blazing into your customers’ eyeballs, it’s tough for a business to decide what they should post. Certainly, a full guide on developing social media strategy and content could fill a book. You could also fill a second book with examples of brands that have been successful by breaking the rules laid out in the first book. So, rather than tell you what to post, we’ll offer a few maxims to guide you:

  • Know Your Audience – Many brands have been raked through the coals after a single poorly-thought-out social post. Most of these incidents could be avoided if they just thought carefully about what works for their audience. Ask yourself: who are you talking to? What do these folks like and what might cross a line? Keep your content in the realm of things they’d enjoy, add a little wit, and you’ll earn plenty of smileys and thumps ups.
dull post quote
  • Aim for Quality – We’ve seen a number of restaurants post images of food that looks like it’s either on the way to, or was just pulled from, the dumpster out back. Whether it’s the quality of a photo, the grammar in your sentence, or the source you’re linking to, be sure everything you post maintains a high level of quality.
  • Be Engaging – Far too many posts are dry, robotic, and totally dull. This ain’t C-SPAN, folks, have some personality! Nobody wants to be the boring person at a party, so don’t be the boring one online. Use humor. Add some pizzazz. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and don’t be afraid to have fun—this is social media. Your goal should be to draft content that makes folks smile, chuckle, or get interested enough to share, like, or leave you a little smiley. Engagement matters when it comes to customers loyalty, and it only helps you gain more awareness and new customers. Don’t be afraid to add some sizzle.

Ratings and Reviews

Most local businesses rely on reviews to prove to prospects that their goods and services are high quality—it’s social proof that your business is worth doing business with. In most conversations about reviews, platforms like Google and Yelp get the most airtime. But as we’ve explored in other articles, these are just a few of the review platforms a business might use. Facebook has their own review system, which you should understand if you want to get the most from Facebook.

Reviews as Customer Engagement

Oddly, most businesses don’t think of reviews and ratings as a form of customer engagement, but they are. Many know the importance of reviews, but few put much thought into an effective review program. Done well, this helps improve your online reputation and brings in lots of new customers automatically.  Let’s look at three basic steps that will help you get the most from your Facebook recommendations.

Before we continue, it’s worth noting that on Facebook, users aren’t asked to leave a star rating. They ask users whether they would recommend you. From there, Facebook creates a star rating for you. For a more thorough guide on online reviews, check out this post.

Getting More Recommendations

customers who'll leave a review

So, we know reviews are an important part of a local business’s marketing mix, but how do you juice your reviews so that everyone who checks out your reviews knows you’re awesome? It’s so simple you’ve probably tried it already: you just ask them. According to BrightLocal, 85% of your customers will leave you a review if you ask them. Ah, but how should you ask them? In person? Email? The best way to solicit reviews is actually via text message. If you can make it convenient for your customers to leave you a review, (who doesn’t check their texts?) they’ll do it. Using solutions like Swell Review, you can automatically solicit reviews through text message. For your customers, it’s as easy as opening a link, and leaving you a recommendation. Many Swell users get loads of reviews in the first month of using it. Want reviews? Just automate the process with Swell!

Reading and Responding to Reviews

Once you begin soliciting reviews, you’ll want to read each one and track your progress as your review total and review score increases. While most businesses rarely get a bad review, you’ll want to reply quickly and try to fix the issue if you do (check out this post on replying to bad reviews). Replying to harsh or negative reviews is a no-brainer, but some businesses will also reply to positive reviews with a kind thank-you. Since reading and responding to reviews across a variety of platforms can be a challenge, many businesses use tools that bring their reviews and review scores into one place so they can monitor and reply to them. Swell Review not only makes it easy to solicit reviews, it’s also a convenient way to monitor in-bound reviews, track your progress, and even reply to reviews all inside the same screen.

Applying Feedback

fixing problems quote

Reviews also reveal interesting insights about what your business can do to improve. Part of the benefit of reading new reviews is they can alert you to things you might be able to improve as a business. Maybe a dish is a little too spicy for most people. Maybe you have one staff member who just rocks it and deserves to be rewarded. People might alert you to things you didn’t realize were happening, which gives you the opportunity to fix them. Pay attention to trends in your reviews and use them to drive meaningful change. Doing this will help you provide even better service to customers, which will result in even more great reviews and new customers.

Conclusion

Facebook can be a customer service gateway that lets you give customers and prospects the info they need. With the right tools, you can also use Facebook reviews to bolster your online reputation, so more people know that you’re trustworthy. Don’t think of Facebook as just a place to post cat videos and memes—it’s actually a platform that can help you grow if you take the right approach.

Looking for a way to get the most from Facebook while also streamlining customer communications? Swell is a great way to get more reviews, reply to them, and bring together messages from multiple platforms so your team can stay on top of everything—but that’s just the beginning. Get your custom demo to see how Swell can help your business grow.