Facebook for Small Business Q&A

Below is an excerpt from a recent interview by USA Today with Facebook’s Director of Local, Emily White. I thought you might be interested in reading the same as it addresses some of the same questions many within franchising continue to ask…

Facebook exec says, “Tools can promote small businesses.”

Q: Let’s start off by talking “Likes.” There is such an emphasis now by companies on getting customers to “like” them, by clicking the “Like” tab on Facebook. Why are likes such a big deal?

A: A “like” is an endorsement, a lightweight action that allows a user to say “I like what you’re doing in this area; I like your product; I like your photo; and I want to put in a vote for you.”

It’s a way for your customer to say, “I like this business, and I’m going to tell everyone about it.”

Q: Competition for “likes” has gotten so heated that many companies are actually offering to sell “likes,” by paying folks to hit the “like” button over and over again. How does Facebook feel about that?

A: We’re not fans. They’re disingenuous and don’t mean anything. If that page is publishing to an individual’s profile, they’ll start marking it as spam. You want a genuine “like.” You want someone to “like” your business because they really do.

Q: How often should businesses post to their customers? Hourly? Daily? Weekly?

A: “The general rule is, you’re in pretty good shape if you’re posting three times a week. That gets you to a pretty sweet spot. Any more would be just too much.

Q: Many businesses offer special discounts for Facebook members, free items if you mention the Facebook post and the “like.” What’s the best-performing offer?

A: It’s all about authentic content. The great thing about Facebook is you can try something and see how it works with your customers. Ask them, and see the response.

Q: Facebook recently introduced “Deals,” a Groupon/LivingSocial type offer for Facebook customers. How can local businesses participate? What’s the advantage of using Deals instead of, say, just buying ads on Facebook?

A: Local businesses in the five cities we’re testing Deals in (Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, San Francisco and San Diego) can sign up at http://Facebook.com/deals/business. Since Deals really focused on things you can share with your friends, Deals is great for local businesses because it can help bring in qualified customers. When businesses run Deals on Facebook, we also help them run ads directing to their Deals. Deals are intended to drive customers specifically into the store. The purpose of Deals and ads is different, but we think they’re complementary.

Q. What about Places? That’s another new Facebook feature, allowing customers to “check in” and tell their friends. How can businesses work with Facebook Places?

A: A few months ago, we made it easier for businesses with a physical location to merge their Page with their Place. This allows people to run Check-in deals for their Page. We started testing this in November. Check-in Deals is a free product that helps businesses reward their customers for checking into their stores.

Q: Many small businesses are concerned about taking on another project — social networking. Why should they take the time?

A: The Web is changing from an information Web to a social Web. The way people are interacting with online materials is really starting to mimic what they’re doing offline. . A small business not on Facebook is missing a ton of opportunity. People are probably already talking about them, but all the positive things they’re saying are going off into the ether — and not getting shared broadly. Your page becomes a living, breathing representation of your business.

Spread the word

“There’s this idea that if you have a Facebook page, people will come,” says Krug. “No — you’ve got to do things to get people there.”

She says that just having a Facebook page isn’t enough — the social network has to be combined with your website, Twitter and e-mail marketing. All three should mention the Facebook page in an integrated way. “This takes a serious time commitment, but it will pay off.”

Read the article / Watch the video

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