Is Your Small Business Friends with Facebook?

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Is Your Small Business Friends with Facebook?
Is Your Small Business Friends with Facebook?

In the consumer world, it can be hard to know whom to trust. With banner ads, TV commercials, and email blasts all buttering up company's products and services, consumers can often be left with more questions than value. Hence, they often turn to the only source they have left: each other.

According to Nielsen's Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages report, 92% of respondents completely or somewhat trust recommendations from people they know.

It's no secret that the billion-plus Facebook metropolis is a breeding ground for sharing, commenting, and posting opinions. Hence the social giant is homing in on its word-of-mouth marketing techniques to help the 15 million small businesses maintaining a Facebook page stay open for business.

“One thing we know is that word-of-mouth marketing is the most effective form of marketing,” says Facebook's director of small business Dan Levy. “What we think we're doing at Facebook is really bringing that same word-of-mouth marketing that small businesses have been using forever into the online world...”

For small businesses not yet on Facebook, Levy advises establishing a Facebook page. He refers to companies' pages as “mission control” for big and small businesses alike, as they serve as the central hub for creating a community, receiving feedback, notifying customers of product and services, and opening a doorway for dialogue.

“Small businesses want authenticate connections with their users and their fans,” Levy says. “In the same way we use the offline analogy, you want to have relationships with your customers [and] Facebook wants you to have relationships with your customers--the ones that you have now or the ones that you're still developing.”

Despite the 15 million small businesses that already use Facebook pages, Levy says he still finds that many small businesses are “intimidated” by Facebook. However, he assures these small businesses that there is nothing to fear. “What I tell all of them is using Facebook for your business is just like using Facebook as a user,” Levy says. “The types of things that you're going to post that your friends are going to want to see...that's the same thing that you're going to want to do as a business to really bring the human element to your business story in the same way that you were doing it as a user on Facebook...”

However, Levy encourages small business to not forget about the details, such as business hours, location, and business categories.He also advises small businesses to urge those on their email lists to interact with the business on Facebook to provide an alternative form of communication.

In addition to strengthening customer relationships online, Levy says creating a Facebook page can also help small businesses develop a mobile strategy.

“A post that you're going to make to your fans can be seen not just on the Web, but also on a mobile device,” Levy says. “Instead of having to go out and strike different agreements with different agencies for mobile strategies, your Facebook page is your hub for mobile posting.”

Compared to other data, Facebook data not only tells small businesses who their customers and potential customers are, but also what they're like, Levy says.

“A connection on Facebook isn't just an email address. It's actual real information about who your customer is [and] is a ways to interact with them on an ongoing basis,” Levy says. “It's something they're probably logged into almost every day.”

And although developments such as The Nearby app and Graph Search are fairly new to Facebook, Levy says, with time, these developments have the potential to help small businesses get discovered. According to Levy, 250 million Facebookers tag a location in their status every month. Hence, by using Nearby, consumers can search for local businesses their friends have checked into or posted about. As for Graph Search, instead of posting questions to their statuses, such as “What are some good local coffee shops in LA?”, users can use Graph Search to see what places their friends have been to, liked, or commented on.

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