As small businesses flock to Facebook, many are finding success with a blend of new marketing tools and customer engagement strategies that not only drum up business, but also delight consumers.
During the inaugural June 3 Facebook Fit boot camp in New York City, Dan Levy, director of small business for Facebook, announced that 30 million small businesses worldwide have an active page on the massive social network. Facebook classifies an active page as one that's updated at least once per month.
A majority of those, 19 million, "are active on mobile" and manage their pages on smartphones and tablets, said Levy.
While the numbers bode well for Facebook—the company last reported 25 million active small business pages in November—they mean even better news for small business owners.
Facebook Social Media Tips and Tour
Levy said his company's commitment to small business success is evident in its investments in mobile and events like Facebook Fit. The New York event kicked off a tour that will next hit Miami on June 19, followed by Chicago, Austin and Menlo Park over the next several weeks.
Facebook Fit is a half-day gathering of the company's executives, small business leaders and partners, which include Intuit QuickBooks, Square and LegalZoom. Part networking, outreach and training, the event helps attendees get up to speed on targeting tools like Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences, which help entrepreneurs to optimize their marketing budgets by reaching only those customers that are likely to patronize their shops.
Facebook Fit is also a trove of business-boosting insights.
Early in his keynote, Levy dispensed his top tip for small business owners on Facebook. He encourages small business owners to tell an authentic story. One company that has taken that advice to heart is Morgan Miller Plumbing in Missouri.
The company found success on Facebook thanks to the outreach efforts of its owner, Jeff Morgan. As he recounted his experience to Levy, Morgan said that the number one challenge in his line of work is establishing trust. Customers must not only trust that their plumbers are qualified to do a good job, but that they are people that prospective customers would feel comfortable letting into their own homes.
Morgan is not a marketing professional, but he has managed to turn Facebook into a major business driver. His secret, said Levy, is that "he writes from a very authentic place."
People, not the company's handiwork or latest energy-efficient technologies, are front and center. Employee stories, adventures and local happenings dominate the Morgan Miller Plumbing Facebook page. As counterintuitive as it sounds, letting the business take a backseat to the personalities that run it is paying off.
The company has achieved a 39X return on its ad spend and has boosted weekly sales by $2,000, using its approach. Thirty percent of the company's employees were recruited and hired via Facebook.
Facebook's targeting features played a big role. Sophisticated business intelligence and audience-building tools are no longer exclusive to major brands.
In a statement, Miller said that he saved his company's "last Yellow Pages ad for my museum—brochures and other print advertising just don't have the same reach and targeting options as Facebook."
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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