The Internet has become one of the most essential tools for customer acquisition and retention that a business owner can utilize. Many people are convinced of the Internet’s use in the worldwide market, and it is fast becoming not only a tool for use in global communications but also indispensable for local businesses as well. With social marketing coming to the forefront as one of the best tools for online communication, and Facebook as one of the most trafficked websites in the social media scene, local business owners are eager to use it to grow their business. Facebook has close to three quarters of a billion users as of the writing of this article, with no end to its growth seen in the near future. This makes its draw for business use irresistible. With so many users on a worldwide scale, the chances that a large part of your local market is using it on a daily basis almost a given. This leads many local business owners to ask how to reach out these users and make them fans of your local brand.
How do you get local Facebook fans?
Facebook offers many tools and resources that a local business owner can use to grow a devoted local brand following. You can offer tantalizing and engrossing content posts in your updates, reward and encourage a loyal following through the use of contests and giveaways, take survey of your customers needs and desires through online polling and surveys, and further solidify your customer knowledge and customer service abilities through Facebook page comments. All of these are great for offering the business owner, and even one makes using Facebook an invaluable resource, but what is in it for the customer or prospect that is on Facebook? Why does someone become a fan of a brand anyway?
Why should a Facebook user become a fan of your business or brand anyway?
Some people may become Facebook fans simply because they already use and like a product or service, but a vast majority of people do so because they are directly nudged (notice I did not say pushed) in that direction by a business’ promotion efforts.Most people need a personally satisfying reason to seek out a business’ Facebook page on the social network and click the like button aside from a general interest in the brand itself.
Offer excellent content to Facebook users
Customers and others often like a business page in order to get the latest news about the brand or business, or to receive other intriguing news and information. This is why, if you want to grow your brand on Facebook and acquire a fan base, you need to post interesting and compelling content through the use of Facebook update statuses. This needs to be real information, aside from simply plastering your sales offers or discounts (though do not discount coupon offers all together, pun intended). An example of this would be a restaurant offering their in-house recipes for their customers to make at home, or an auto shop offering tips on auto repair that a prospective client can utilize for themselves. This might seem counter-intuitive, but if you offer an inside look at how your business does things, even by giving away your so called secrets of the trade, this will further establish you as an expert in your field, making them feel more comfortable with the choice of handing you money to do it for them in the end, even when they know that they now have the information to do it themselves. This will also give an incentive for those outside of your local service area to engage with your page, leaving thank you comments and other positive affirmations, again making it a lot easier for your local market to place their trust in you and become your customer.
Create an offline promotion campaign for your Facebook efforts
One often overlooked tactic that can lead to a growing Facebook Fan Page base is to incorporate your online initiatives with offline tactics. Does your business clearly promote your Facebook page in your offline marketing materials? Do you tell your local market about your newest Facebook contest on local radio? Invite your local contest winners to the store to receive your contest prize, and then take pictures. Use these pictures in your Facebook page, and the winner will tell the world to go to Facebook and “like” them, sharing them with even more people. Create a domino effect whenever possible. If your content succeeds in “going viral”, even small actions can have a huge effect on your fan base, and thus your bottom line.
Give your customers a voice
Customer comments on your Facebook page (even negative ones) are opportunities for growth, and should be encouraged. Like the comments that are positive, and address negative comments head on, and when resolved, encourage the original poster to update the status of their customer service experience, turning lemons into lemonade. Often a person will evaluate a business not only on how many people are satisfied with the brand offering, but also based on how the business deals with real life customer service challenges. Some of the best promotion a business can receive is a customer that initially has a troubled experience that is quickly remedied by a brand’s customer service team in a positive manner.
Expand your Facebook marketing efforts to Facebook Apps and Geo-targeted display advertising
Facebook offers a multitude of other products and service apps that can help you grow a local fan page following for your business. These cover the gamut of free photo sharing applications to paid Facebook advertising with incredibly targeted display options specifically tailored to your local market’s location, interests and demographic.
One last note, be a responsible Facebook citizen
Be sure to follow the rules and guidelines in the use of the resources they provide and before you know it, you will soon be able to say that Facebook is one of the best sources of customer acquisition and retention tools in your local marketing arsenal.