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How to use Facebook to grow your small business

February 1, 2016

Facebook is the second biggest site in the world, with us Brits being some of its most prolific users. 59% of UK residents use Social Media on a daily basis; which means that Facebook presents some great marketing opportunities for businesses.

If you can get your users to share information about your products and services in their feeds, you can reach a massive audience of consumers – at a time when they are relaxed and receptive to marketing messages.

If you are a start-up or small businesses, the low-cost and high-potential make Facebook a very attractive option to promote and grow your venture, but how do you do this effectively?

Who uses Facebook?

Today, Facebook use is near-ubiquitous, with users ranging from 13 years old (or, doubtlessly, younger users who lie about their age) through to pensioners.

According to recent data from, We are Social, 59% of the UK population have active social media accounts, with 43% using Facebook. Perhaps more importantly, the average time users spend on social media per day is a massive 2 hours 13 minutes.

Time spent on Media; Internet, social media, TV 2015

Additionally, unlike Pinterest, which still skews primarily towards females, both men and women are avid users of Facebook. Each group has different usage habits, but the fact remains that you can reach them via the website.

Setting up a Facebook page

Facebook has three main ways of conveying information:

  • Profiles – these are things that individuals have. Your “wall” is a part of your profile
  • Groups – groups are things that users can join to discuss various topics
  • Pages – a page is a platform for a brand or business to share information.

Businesses and brand owners are expected to use pages to share their content. A Facebook page can have a lot of information attached to it, including things like opening hours, location and price information, and contact details.

The administrator of the page can post links, images and video content to it, and view information about how many people are liking and sharing their posts. Pages can also receive messages from users.

More than one person can manage a page. So, you could have someone set up your Facebook page – including linking it to your website, adding a custom header graphic and generally making sure that the page branding is correct – and then have that person add others as “editors”.

An editor can perform all the functions of managing a page, except for assigning and removing page management rights themselves.

Think carefully about who in your business, you want to give these administrator and editorial capabilities. If you don’t already have one, now is a good time to put a social media policy in place.

For more on this, read How should you handle social media as a small business employer?

Facebook makes it quite easy to create pages. You will find the “Create Page” link under the “Pages” section of the side bar on the left hand side of the page when you log in to the site.

Create Facebook page for business

There is also another link to that feature at the very bottom of each page. This takes you to an easy-to-follow wizard that will ask you some questions about the page that you want to create. Once you’ve made your page, simply invite some friends to get the community growing, and start posting content.

Getting your content seen

When Facebook first launched the ‘Pages’ feature, it was easy to get the content on your page seen. Your posts would appear in the timelines of everyone who liked the page, and it was only really timeliness that impacted whether or not a post would be seen.

As Facebook became busier and busier, and people’s timelines were flooded with information, Facebook adjusted its algorithm, greatly reducing the reach of Facebook page posts. Today, only around 2.6% of users who like a page will see its posts – however, this figure varies – the more likes a page has, the smaller its organic reach is likely to be:

Reach with Facebook page

The number of people who see a post is determined by the type of post – image and video content gets far more views than text. People are also more likely to see posts if someone they are friends with is tagged in, has liked, or commented on that post.

In addition, if someone routinely likes content from a page, they are more likely to see future posts, and if posts to a page get a lot of likes Facebook will show future posts to more people.

Also, if someone goes to the trouble of requesting notifications for a specific page, they will be told every time there is a post to that page. Unfortunately, it would be rare for someone to do this for a brand.

The best way to get your content seen is to post images, videos and links on a regular basis, and to choose content that will encourage likes or comments. On Facebook, engagement breeds engagement.

Posts that get just a few responses, or get ignored, could potentially harm your brand, but posts that get a great response will help to increase your page’s visibility. There are many free tools that you can use to design page posts and schedule posts, so that your page is always populated with content.

Facebook advertising

To give your page a helping hand, you can use the Facebook Advertising system. You can use Facebook ads to boost the visibility of individual posts, promote your page in general, or promote events, apps, videos, or offers. You’ll find a link to this feature on the left hand side of the page:

Facebook advertising system

The system is incredibly powerful, allowing you to dictate who sees your ads down to an incredibly specific level. For example, you can promote posts to:

  • People who like your page, and their friends
  • People from a specific area
  • People of a specific age and/or gender
  • Those who speak a specific language
  • People with a given interest
  • Mobile users or desktop device users
  • Any given combination of the above

This targeting means that you can be confident that your ads will receive a strong response. You can limit your advertising budget, and control how long your ads run for – this means it’s easy to test campaigns to see what sort of content your target audience response well to.

What not to do with Facebook

In a bid to get around Facebook’s latest reach limitations, some brand owners have tried to bend the rules a little, setting up personal accounts in their brand name so that they can have their posts seen by more people, and more easily tag users in their posts. Not only does this look rather unprofessional, it is actually against Facebook’s Terms of Service – which specify that users should be real people.

In addition, if you have a presence on more than one social network, resist the urge to cross post exactly the same content to all networks. Doing so would alienate users who follow you on more than one network. Try to tailor the content for each site.

Facebook provides you with the tools you need to promote your brand their way, and their way can be very effective. If you are patient, post consistently and use Facebook as a part of a wider social media strategy that includes Twitter as well as other social media and paid search platforms, you can get great results.

About the author

This guide has been written for ByteStart by Amy Fowler, a digital marketer specialising in helping businesses grow their presence online, working alongside business utility experts, Switch My Business.

More on growing your business with social media

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