This post is sponsored by Facebook.
Running a successful small business today requires being able to do business anywhere, at any time. And many small business owners are turning to tech tools to help them out.
Facebook's Business Product Marketing Lead for Facebook Pages Kate McCarthy sat down to talk about how successful SMBs are using those tools, why it's so important for businesses to be able to operate in real time and where Facebook fits into the picture of small business success:
What are some of the challenges that SMBs face in today's increasingly digital commerce environment, and how do tech tools such as Facebook Pages help businesses overcome those challenges?
In today’s global marketplace, SMBs face increasing competition, from big and international businesses among others. And today’s consumer is looking to their phone more than ever: Over 90% of the world’s population owns a smartphone, and they’re spending more than 122 minutes a day on it, according to data from eMarketer. This poses additional challenges for businesses with limited ability to invest in a custom mobile presence. To survive and thrive, it’s critical for businesses to become digitally savvy -- to build a strong mobile presence that will help them build awareness and connect with customers.
Tech tools such as Facebook Pages help SMBs build an online presence, connect with customers and drive real business outcomes. We make it easy for businesses to reach the 2.27 billion people who are already spending a good chunk of their mobile time on Facebook every month. And for those businesses who are interested in extending their reach, we also offer paid advertising solutions to help you achieve your business objectives even faster.
What role does technology such as Facebook Pages and its associated features play in helping small business owners get work done anywhere, at any time?
Whether you spend most of your day at a desk or on the go, Pages makes it easy to share updates and interact with customers anytime, anywhere. You can schedule posts and respond to customer interactions whenever it is convenient for you.
We also make it easy to manage your business presence efficiently. For example, we offer messaging features such as Instant Replies and messaging labels that allow you to automate your activity and scale your business. We also offer support for multiple Page managers and roles, so you can enlist the help of employees, friends or family to manage your Page.
What should business owners look for when choosing new digital tools to help them drive results for their businesses?
Here are a few factors that you may want to consider when selecting digital tools to drive results for your business:
- Performance: Most importantly, it needs to deliver value for your business.
- Completeness: You may find it more convenient to choose an all-in-one solution, rather than integrating and setting up multiple tools.
- Compatibility: If you do need to adopt multiple tools, it’s important to find products that work well together so that the information you need is all in one place. For example, you can link your Shopify account with Facebook Marketplace to sell products directly from your Facebook Page.
- Ease of management: The less time you need to invest in setup and maintenance, the higher your return on investment will be.
- Cost: Free is good, of course, but you may need to pay for more for premium tools or reach a broader audience through advertising.
Where does Facebook fit into this picture? What additional features can be useful for SMBs as they develop and scale their online presence?
Facebook Pages are simple to set up and manage. We have templates to drive results for many different types of businesses, from retail and e-commerce to service providers and more. Whether you’re a restaurant, a hair salon or a boutique, we offer end-to-end solutions to help you promote your business, build meaningful relationships with your customers and drive sales. More advanced features include the ability to create a Shop, book appointments, host Events, post jobs and create Groups to build a community around your Page. Pages also plays nice with the tools that your business already relies on -- we offer a broad range of partner integrations, from Shopify to Eventbrite. Businesses like Tropical Breeze Decor and AdHoc Presents are seeing powerful results, including increased transactions and ticket sales, from using these tools. Last but not least, creating and maintaining a Facebook Page is free! You only pay if you decide to extend your reach via advertising.
How can small businesses ensure that they’re getting the most out of their Facebook Page?
Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your Page:
- Complete your profile: Complete your business profile (for example, profile photo, cover photo, Page category, contact information, About page) to make it easier for people to find your business and the information they are looking for.
- Configure your Page: Choose a Page template in line with your business goals (for example, if you’re a service provider, choose the Services template). Select a Page action button based on the main action that you’d like customers to take (for example, Shop Now or Send Message).
- Build your audience: Invite current customers (or friends and family, if your business is new) to like your Page to start growing your audience.
- Post regular, engaging content: Aim to post regularly, at least two to three times per week, to stay top of mind with customers. Share visual, highly engaging content -- photos and videos tend to perform well. Choose posts with action buttons where possible to encourage customers to take the actions you value most.
- Be responsive to messages: Aim to respond to messages within 24 hours (many customers expect even faster response) to avoid losing customers.
Kate McCarthy is business product marketing lead for Facebook Pages, on which more than 90 million SMBs rely to power their business. Prior to joining Facebook, Kate was a principal at The Boston Consulting Group in San Francisco, where she served clients in the tech and media industries.