How much does Facebook factor into your marketing plan?
By Kim Patterson
Regardless of your feelings about Facebook, the social media platform continues to be a player in the marketing world. Many small-business owners feel it’s worthwhile to incorporate Facebook’s advertising features into their marketing strategy, while for others, promotional budgets are best spent elsewhere.
James Atlas, principal of Platinum Pool Care in Wheeling, Illinois, is in the latter camp. He says Facebook was a more viable marketing option for small businesses several years ago. That said, his business’ Facebook page does incorporate several handy and eye-catching features. It has a custom URL, a fully populated About section and a stunning video on the home page. “For a business in the early stages, using the Facebook tools could help build a brand and generate awareness for that company,” Atlas says.
Alternatively, digital marketing and systems architect, at Fiber Optic Center in New Bedford, Massachusetts (and director of marketing for South Shore Gunite Pools & Spas in Billerica, Massachusetts), Kelly Michael Skelton, says overlooking Facebook as a marketing tool is a missed opportunity. “It allows owners to share information more frequently and in a more social setting than on a website or an advertisement,” Skelton says. “Sure, Facebook enables businesses to sell products or, in a pool company’s case, get leads, but business owners should steer away from using it as a way just to sell services. If a business owner is able to entertain and provide helpful insight to people, sales will inevitably come.”
To that end, using the tools Facebook business pages have to offer — auto-messaging, appointment scheduler, virtual showroom and more — can give it the feel of a mini website, a landing space for customers who have a heavy social presence.
Skelton says having the About section completely filled in is imperative for businesses. “Folks want to know who you are and why you do what you do,” Skelton says, “especially for a trade that is so personal like working on someone’s property.”
Your potential customers who use Facebook will often attempt initial contact with your company via Facebook Messenger. Rebekah Sine, owner and co-founder of Method Agency in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, says setting up the platform’s auto-response feature can make things easier in that regard.
“If you don’t want to manage Facebook messages, there are tools out there that help you easily create chatbots — a way to answer commonly asked questions from your customers or potential clients,” Sine says. “If people often message you to ask your hours, you could have that answer pre-programmed. If customers are looking for the contact number for the service department, this is an option you can program to have automatically answered. You can even pre-qualify leads by asking for their preferred pool size and/or budget.”
Targeting a specific audience is also a tool available on Facebook business pages.
Among the best business features on Facebook, says Jon Schulter, marketing director for Van Kirk & Sons Pools & Spas in Deerfield Beach, Florida, is being able to specifically target potential customers by area. For example, if Schulter built a project in Boca Raton or Delray Beach, he can post about it and target the whole city or even specific neighborhoods — only those in that area will see the post. “If they see a project in their neighborhood,” he says, “they are more likely to at least call us. That trust is earned quicker.”
Creating a custom URL for your Facebook business page is another must, Sine says. “When you just use the standard URL Facebook assigns to you, it comes with a string of characters after your page name,” she says. This looks messy and isn’t easy to remember; a shorter URL can also be printed on signs or in display ads, she says.
For example, a business called Pool Service Company will automatically generate to something like Facebook.com/Pool-Service-Company-234124919879-fasdfakjkkj-fbk. But Facebook.com/PoolServiceCompany could be available for customization.
To change the URL, go to
your business page on Facebook
and click the About tab on the left-hand side. Click Edit
to change your username (in this example, you’d change it to
@PoolServiceCompany). This will change the URL and give Facebook users an easier way to tag your company in posts. As long as the name you want isn’t taken, you should be able to use your company name or a close variation.
Schulter also sees the benefit of having a well-rounded Facebook business profile. “The About and Our Story features are useful to provide more information and context for our business and you are not just looking at posts all day,” Schulter says, adding that spreading awareness about your business is the biggest upside to putting time into your company’s presence on Facebook.
“It’s all about credibility,” he says, “and the features give people more of an inside look than some other social media platforms.”