As we are all about small offline businesses using social media to grow I thought I would use a local business Lincoln Yurts as an example who are using Facebook pretty well to get their message across.
You may recall that my last article covered how and why people should use YouTube to grow their business and get leads for their offline businesses, if not then you can read that article here.
Facebook like YouTube is free to use but unlike YouTube it can be geo specific which means that if someone uses a local business and likes their Facebook page other local connections will see and this has a powerful visual equivalent to ‘word of mouth’.
Every business should have a Facebook page especially now that Facebook have relaxed their rules about running competitions. Before you had to use specific Facebook approved aps to run a competition or sweepstake on their network but now you can simply run one however you please. You might have seen a lot of pages doing the ‘share & win…’ style competitions where you are asked to share a photo or post to enter the competition. Some ask you to like their page to have a chance to win a prize.
These are great because they can create a buzz, an excitement and have your product seen by many more people than just a typical photo post. If you have something that you can give away then why not run a Facebook competition? Remember they are free to do. I shall keep coming back to this a lot, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram are FREE and used well they can be very powerful.
In this example you will see that local company Lincoln Yurts ran a competition where they gave away a free holiday consisting of a 2 night mid-week stay in one of their Yurts. The image above shows that people were liking the photos and sharing them.
The owners of Lincoln Yurts were posting new and different photos showing what they had to offer so people were not seeing the same old picture but instead they were seeing more of what they would get if they won and this was great for ‘wetting people’s appetites’.
They had the camp site already set up with Yurts so for them giving away a couple of nights stay away for free is not going to cost them a lot of outlay. Far from it, those two free nights they gave away helped to grow their business and put their name and business in front of new people.
Every time someone clicked like of the Lincoln Yurts page or shared any of the Lincoln yurts photos their friends would see their activities in their own newsfeeds. Imagine that you had seen one of your friends had won a competition, you would probably take a quick look at the Facebook page or website that had ran the competition.
Showing the winner is also a very powerful thing to do, in fact it is the best way to inform people who the winner is. Recently one excellent Facebook competition run by an online holiday company failed to do this and instead opted to email the winner which left a lot of confusion and a bad end to a really good competition.
This is viral marketing at its best, if any of the friends got curious and clicked through to the Lincoln Yurts page they now know that they exist and may be interested in booking a night or two there, generating more revenue from a simple free to use online social network.
The other great thing about Facebook is that unlike paid adverts in papers or magazines you can answer people’s questions and have conversations with people in real time. The examples below show people asking if there were any Yurts available on a set night, what the nearest train station was and how far from Lincoln were they. As you can see Lincoln Yurts were able to answer and have a conversation with people as well as direct them to their own website.
One of the first things you need to focus on when starting a business online is how people can contact you. There are many options when it comes to this, you could buy phone number for business, opt for messaging through social media online, or even set up an in-store landline phone. When people see an advert in a paper and become interested they need to either switch the computer on to send an email or make a phone call which is fine but it means people either decide to do it later and then forget or get up and go fetch the phone which isn’t hard but we people are lazy, that simple task of getting up to fetch the phone can often result in people thinking to themselves, ‘I cannot be bothered to get up, I am too comfy’
With Facebook, when someone is relaxing on the sofa scrolling through their newsfeeds and they see something that interests them they can send a message or place a comment there and then. They may not get an answer straight away but they know that when they do they will be notified of any reply and can go and see it straight away. Never in the world of advertising has it been so easy to interact with potential clients, let alone do it for free!
The other great thing I have noticed with Lincoln Yurts is that they share photos of fun things, their newest additions and new developments. These keep people informed while reminding them that they are still there. This kind of reminder is what multibillion dollar earning companies like Coca Cola do every day. Do we need to be told who Coca Cola and McDonalds are?
Virtually everyone in the western world knows about them but if they do not keep making TV adverts to remind us of their products we could soon forget about them. Just like them we smaller businesses need to keep gently reminding people that we are still in business and that we are improving and growing. Why wouldn’t you? Especially when the systems we can use are free, we can do the posts before or after the working day or maybe both.
Whatever your business is you could take several photos during a working day and then while sitting down to relax in front of a bit of television in the evening you could post a couple of photos with some information and monitor any questions they may generate. It really isn’t hard work but the rewards can be incredible. I am sure that the owners of Lincoln Yurts would say that their use of Facebook has benefitted them greatly, they may not yet be able to measure it but I am sure their business has grown by using the free social media platform and interacting with people.
If you are not yet using Facebook then maybe now is the time to get started? Do you agree? Please leave your thoughts and comments below in the comments section.
Oh and for the record, I have never been to Lincoln Yurts or know the people who own Lincoln Yurts and I have not been financially rewarded for this post, I simply wanted to use them as an example of using Facebook to grow your business for free – Andi Leeman