With Black Friday and Cyber Monday looming near, much of the holiday hooplah has been devoted to these two retail holidays. But there’s another key shopping day that’s just around the corner: Small Business Saturday.
Last year consumers spent $5.7 billion with independent merchants on Small Business Saturday, according to the 2013 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey by the National Federation on Independent Business and American Express. What’s more, 71% of consumers reported being aware of the shopping day and 46% of these shoppers said that they shopped on Small Business Saturday in 2013.
One of the most popular forms of marketing for small businesses is word of mouth, and the explosion of social media has made it possible for consumers to talk about their favorite products and brands anytime, anywhere. Consider the following: 89% of consumers who shared their holiday shopping experiences on social media did so via Facebook, according to the January 2014 report “The Impact of Mobile and Facebook While Shopping” by Millard Brown Digital and Firefly. In addition, about 60% of Facebook users considered the social network influential to their holiday shopping.
“What we’ve seen over the years is that consumers are increasingly turning to Facebook for help in making their holiday purchase decisions,” says Jonathan Czaja, director of small business for Facebook in North America. “So we think that, for marketers, Facebook is increasingly becoming a great place to reach out to folks during the holidays.”
With just a few days left until the big day, Czaja shared eight tips on how small businesses can leverage the social network for their holiday marketing and make their cash registers jingle.
Get a head start: When it comes to planning for the holiday season, Czaja recommends starting early.
“It’s important to be thoughtful about your holiday marketing campaign,” he says. “Finding ways to integrate holiday themes into your marketing message can be an effective way to increase engagement. So, I would start right away.”
For instance, Susan McInerney, co-owner of women’s clothing and accessories boutique GOLDY + MAC, started thinking about her holiday marketing this past October. She decided to host an in-store trunk show every Saturday in November to drive traffic to her New York–based shop. Of course, she promotes these events on Facebook.
Establish clear goals: The most important Facebook metrics, according to Czaja, are the ones that most closely align with a business’s goals. So, if an e-commerce brand wants to track ROI, it can install a Facebook conversion pixel on its website to measure how many people made an online purchase after engaging with a Facebook ad. Or if a publisher wants to drive traffic to its website, it can leverage Facebook’s Link ads, which enable consumers to click on images or calls-to-action within an ad and be transferred to a brand’s website.
“[The conversion pixel is] a clear signal in a direct measurement loop that enables you to determine the effectiveness of your ads on Facebook,” Czaja says.
Having clearly defined goals can also help business owners assess when it’s time for a strategy change. Consider GOLDY + MAC’s situation. Before teaming up with Facebook’s small business team six months ago, McInerney used the social network to post pictures of GOLDY + MAC’s new merchandise. And while consumers enjoyed viewing the stylish new items, they weren’t coming to the store to purchase. GOLDY + MAC’s owners wanted to drive more in-store sales, so it cut back on posting pictures of “aspirational” pieces and focused more on uploading images of clothing items that its customers shop for on an everyday basis. Keeping the goal of generating in-store sales in mind, the retailer also started running Facebook ads and hosting in-store events to encourage current and prospective customers to visit the shop.
Identify target audiences—just not too targeted: There are a number of Facebook tools that small business owners can use to market to specific segments, such as Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences. But marketers must be weary of refining their targeting options to the point that there aren’t enough people in that desired demographic to reach, Czaja says.
“Being thoughtful about your target will increase engagement because you can be confident that the marketing message is being seen by people who actually care about what you’re selling,” he adds.
Don’t forget the basics: A Facebook page should be a business’s home base and answer the fundamental questions consumers have when they first visit it—like where is the business located, what are its hours, and what kind of industry is this business in?
“You want to make sure that when folks come, they can quickly identify what it is that you’re selling or what service you’re offering,” Czaja says. “From there, think about it as a way to educate folks on what’s happening in your world…. Is there a way to tell your story?”
Create a sense of exclusivity: Everyone likes to feel special. GOLDY + MAC lets its Facebook followers know that they’re valued by offering special discounts to shoppers who mention the brand’s Facebook page in-store.
Leverage good imagery in Facebook ads: While targeting tools and links are important, eye-catching imagery and concise messaging are also critical to ensure that a business’s Facebooks ads stand out from the posts and other ads its competing with, Czaja says. “This is the art in marketing,” he explains, “and it can be compelling.”
Of course, the best way to determine an image’s effectiveness is to test it. Czaja recommends using tools like Ads Manager to monitor ad performance, optimize, and adjust funding accordingly.
Be aware of cultural nuances: Different consumers across the globe have different preferences and tolerances for ads. For instance, Czaja says that consumers in Korea and Japan tend to view ads as more engaging than consumers in other regions do.
“You need to understand the customer that you’re trying to reach,” he says. “If that customer is different in Europe than it is in the U.S., then I would certainly invest in learning more about why they’re different and how, [so] you [can] use a different strategy to connect with them.”
Put yourself in the consumers’ shoes: Although posting three to five times a week is a general rule of thumb for small businesses, Czaja advises marketers to think like a consumer when determining what kind of content they should post on their page and how often. Indeed, considering their own thresholds can help marketers walk the fine line between remaining top-of-mind and becoming a nuisance.
“You don’t like seeing the same ad three times a day,” Czaja says, “and I’m guessing that your customer won’t either.”
Photo Credit: Goldy + Mac