Laura asked about my thoughts on this Fast Company article:
If the question is whether the free ride is over for businesses on Facebook, the answer is an unequivocal yes. The freeloading is done and gone. Nullem gratuitem prandium: no such thing as a free lunch, as the Romans said.
If the question is whether Facebook is useless to small businesses that don't have millions of dollars, the answer is equally firm: no. Facebook is still plenty useful to businesses even on meager budgets.
What sort of things might small, local businesses still be able to do on Facebook without shelling out massive fortunes?
Retargeting and Remarketing
Facebook offers two simple kinds of remarketing and retargeting. The first is custom audiences, in which you upload your email or phone database (hashed, if you want it to be guaranteed secure) and then set up ads to run against that audience. It’s an inexpensive way to reach the highest value people on Facebook - people who you’ve identified could be customers or are customers already.
The second kind of remarketing is web-based remarketing. Small businesses can place tracking tags on the most valuable pages on their websites and then show ads only to those people who visit those pages and leave.
Both of these forms of advertising can be done for $5 a day and up. Obviously, the more resources you can throw at it, the better, but you can do a lot for a little.
Another form of Facebook marketing leverages the gap between business Page and employees. If you’re a small business owner who has done a good job of cultivating your personal Facebook profile in addition to your business Page, then make sure you’re sharing your business Page updates from your personal profile.
An excellent example of this is my martial arts teacher, Mark Davis. He shares the Boston Martial Arts business Page updates on his personal profile, and more often than not, I see his posts before the school’s posts:
Note that you don’t have to do this with EVERY post - just the key ones, like upcoming events, etc.
The final area you can leverage is Facebook Groups, either by participating (sensibly, please; no spamming!) or setting up your own group. Groups are an easy way to reach pockets of people who share interests in what your business serves. Find the right group, and if one doesn’t exist, make one!
Bear in mind that geography is important. Just because there’s a broad category group doesn’t mean there’s a local group. There’s a podcasting group, but is there a suburban Boston podcasters group? If not, there’s an easy void for you to fill.
Yes, Small Businesses Can Benefit from Facebook
Facebook still has opportunities for meaningful participation by businesses big and small. You have to find them, and for the ones you don’t pay money for, you have to work harder at them.
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