With over a billion people globally logging on to Facebook on a daily basis, it’s surprising that relatively few tire dealers give Facebook much consideration when it comes to their digital marketing. Today if you can identify a specific audience for your product or service, you can be sure that the audience is on Facebook. Perhaps there is confusion as to how a site designed around family photos, gossip and cat videos can help grow your tire business. This is the beauty of how Facebook monetizes its infrastructure – and it’s a ripe opportunity for your marketing. Your marketing messages and sharable content can insert itself neatly between the families and fluff, targeting the specific people you want most to see your business message.
While you can attempt to do this organically without spending major marketing dollars on Facebook, this is getting more and more challenging as Facebook makes changes to its algorithm, limiting the level of exposure your unpaid content might receive. That said, maintaining an active presence on Facebook remains a solid strategy. When people search for your shop online, that content can help drive more business. Posting regularly to your business’ Facebook page and sharing your knowledge can help you stay top-of-mind while establishing your expertise to that audience.
Let’s look at the basics of using Facebook for your business marketing, taking an “organic” approach (i.e., a no-cost perspective). In a future article we will address paid social and sponsored content strategies.
Social media marketing allows individuals and businesses to interact with one another, which can help build brand relationships. When companies are active users of social channels, consumers can and will interact with them directly. That interaction is more personal and less commercial to users than traditional methods of outbound marketing and advertising.
Facebook’s ability to allow followers to “share” and repost comments made by others about a product is extremely powerful. By repeating the company’s message, its impact and audience exposure multiplies. The fact that it was shared by someone they know gives it greater credence. No other form of media (aside from traditional word-of-mouth) is as powerful.
As your company’s content is being shared, the more attention and exposure your company can receive. But this may be a double-edged sword. Just as a positive shared comment can elevate your reputation within your community, complaints and bad experiences may also be shared, which requires “reputation management.” When working with Facebook for marketing, you need to pay attention and respond quickly to those negatives, making an effort to resolve the situation in a positive manner to minimize any negative impact.
Profiles vs. Pages
According to Facebook, personal profiles are for non-commercial use and represent people, while “Pages” are designed specifically for businesses. An individual may manage several different Pages, but may only have one personal profile.
While Pages and personal profiles may look very similar in design, Pages offer unique tools for the businesses, brands and organizations that use them. When someone “likes” a Page, that person may see updates in the Facebook News Feed of that Page regularly. (The News Feed is the constantly updating flow of stories, posts and information in the middle of your Facebook home page.)
With Pages, all a person needs to do is to “like” your page to establish a relationship. It also implies that you have permission to share information with them. Caution: Abuse the privilege of that connection and they can block you just as quickly.
While most people have a personal Facebook profile, all too often business owners turn their personal profile page into one used for business. This is a mistake for many reasons. Using your personal Facebook profile as a business page violates Facebook’s Terms of Service. While this may not seem like a big deal, Facebook can and will terminate your profile when it is discovered, wiping out all of that work you did to cultivate and build your audience.
Rules aside, it also makes you look unprofessional, like you don’t know what you are doing. This is not the message you want to be sending to customers and prospects. Plus, on a personal profile you’re limited to 5,000 “friends” versus having an unlimited number of people who can like your business page.
Be aware that what you share on a business page will not show on your personal profile and vice versa. But you can “share” items posted on your business page with your personal community to reach more people as appropriate.
Facebook is not a direct sales tool. Think of Facebook as a microsite that you can use for commercial purposes but with a social posture – not to make a sales pitch. People need to be persuaded about a business’ authority, knowledge and personality before committing to doing business. A social medium like Facebook allows a business to show its audience who it is, what it’s about, what valuable knowledge it can share, and what support it can offer. For tire dealers, it’s an excellent way to build up your reputation in your community and highlight your community involvement.
Some Tips to Get Started:
• Link your Page to your business’ website.
• Include high-quality, properly sized images for your cover photos that represent your business well.
• Completely fill out the “About” section. Include your business address, contact information and both short and longer descriptions of your business.
• Include personal interest posts and photos of your involvement in the community. If you sponsor a little league team or contribute to a 10K race, post about that.
• Showcase your products and services without the hard push.
• Don’t sell from Facebook. You can drive customers to your website or a landing page where they can buy. In fact, Facebook has adjusted their complicated algorithm to make it harder for businesses to be “salesy.” The strategy is not arbitrary. Facebook wants to push business owners toward its paid advertising services.
A rule of thumb: If your audience smiles, they also may buy. A favorite example comes from Amy Mattinat, owner of Auto Craftsmen in Vermont. The story goes that a large pothole opened up on a major route in her city. Her online message: “WARNING! Large pot hole in 400 block of Main Street. Avoid! If this message reached you too late, we will be happy to get you back in alignment at Auto Craftsmen.”