5 creative ways to use Facebook for your business

Earlier this month Facebook launched Facebook for Business – a new manual to help small firms get the most out of the social network.

Facebook has huge implications for businesses of every size, but many are failing to get the most out of it. You’ve got your page set up – now what? Here are some ideas for creative uses of Facebook for your business.

1. Use it as a shopfront

So-called ‘social commerce’ is only just beginning to reach maturity. Social commerce encourages the use of social media in the process of purchasing goods or services. The potential implications and applications of this are huge, but Facebook provides you with a simple way in: the opportunity to use the social network as a shopfront.

It is now possible to use iframes to build and customise your own tabs on Facebook pages. This means that you can inject almost anything you like into your Facebook presence – including a shopping cart. Facebook users can therefore buy from you without ever leaving the network.

2. Use it for targeted advertising

Targeted advertising is one of the most useful elements of Facebook for small businesses. Users provide vast amounts of information about themselves – and this provides businesses with an opportunity to ensure that their ads reach the people who are most likely to be interested in them.

You can target your ads using factors like age, location, or interest. Familiarise yourself with Facebook’s ad buying interface, and consider which factors you should be using.

3. Use it to offer discounts

Facebook provides you with a great opportunity to offer added value to fans. Consider using it to give discounts or special offers to those who ‘like’ your page. This can help to encourage a sense of brand loyalty, while also encouraging more existing and potential customers to keep in touch on the network.

Discounts and offers can help you to build a ‘club’ mentality, which is a highly effective means by which you can encourage repeat custom. You might also consider leveraging this ‘club’ by using it as a focus group. Test new product ideas, ask for suggestions, and so on.

4. Use it to network

All too frequently, businesses use Facebook as a one-way communication channel. By its very nature it is, in fact, a multi-directional conversation – but this is often not recognised.

Facebook provides you with valuable opportunities to network with customers, peers, and suppliers. Rather than simply broadcasting, consider ways that you can start or join a conversation. Ask your customers questions. What do they want to see? What do they like or dislike about the products or services you offer?

In addition, think about using groups to keep in touch with people with whom you share interests. Facebook groups are a great way of networking with others who operate in similar areas, and of keeping on top of developments in related fields.

5. Use it on your network

Finally, make sure that your Facebook presence is properly integrated into your website. At the very least, your website should include Facebook ‘like’ buttons; ideally one that is connected to your own Facebook page, and one on each piece of relevant content which users might want to share with their own networks.

You may also consider using Facebook commenting on your site to encourage discussion. This can also significantly increase click-through, as users have the option to publish their comments to their own news feeds. In addition, Facebook’s ‘recommendations’ service allows you to provide users with content that may be relevant to their interests.

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