By Katie King, Zoodikers Consulting

For every SME, the question is the same; how can you use Facebook in an efficient way to help raise brand awareness and generate leads? How do you decide where to invest your time in developing this social media platform?

Here are our top tips;

1.Make sure that your planned activity on Facebook is part of your overall business strategy. As with most aspects of business; Facebook is only useful if you have a clear understanding of how it will help your business in achieving its overall objectives. It requires a strategy - you must be clear about what resources you are willing to commit, and what you are hoping to gain from this commitment.

Furthermore, it must be measurable; make sure you know how this is impacting on leads generated, conversion rates and actual sales. Social media is an investment, and everyone should be interested in its return.

2.Create interesting and compelling content for your target market, eg. Videos, podcasts and photos. If you want your customers to interact and engage with you online, you need to be producing things that are of interest to them. Common sense? Not always.

Select a variety of means, such as podcasts, animations and wall posts for interacting with your target market. This is the key to gaining fans and followers, and keeping them engaged.

3.Use Facebook ‘Discussions’ to interact online. This gives your business the forum to discuss relevant information with customers, potential customers and industry professionals. Keep the discussions related to your core business activities, and you will gain valuable insight and even, perhaps, be considered as an industry thought leader.

4.Use Facebook ‘Polls’ to gain valuable information. Facebook ‘Polls’ effectively allow you to conduct free market research. Ask your fans and followers to tell you which are the most important aspects of your industry, ask for their opinion on new product launches and use this insight for continuous improvement and content for blogs etc.

5.Integrate social media profiles, eg Facebook and Twitter to save time on content creation. With automated Tweet scheduling software and other similar software packages, you are able to set times and content in advance. This means that you do not have to be at your desk to be generating interesting content.

Also, by connecting your Facebook and Twitter accounts, your Tweets will appear on your Facebook wall. This synchronisation saves time in updating each profile separately. (You can also use tools like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite to do this for you).

6.Complete all information as part of your page, and include links to other websites. The information section of your Facebook profile is a good opportunity to give viewers of your page more information about your company. By including hyperlinks to the company website, and perhaps your blog – you are also aiding your organic search engine optimisation (SEO). After a short period, you should be able to see that some of the traffic to the company website has originated at Facebook.

7.Personalise any invites to your page. Everyone appreciates a personal touch; that is also true of Facebook. If you invite someone to ‘Like’ your page, don’t send their vanilla invites. Add a sentence about where they might have heard about your company, or perhaps any previous dealings that they have had with the company. Most importantly, address them by name.

If you have not dealt with the individual before, explain why your company may be of interest to them, and what the benefits of becoming a fan will be. This small investment of time at such an early stage will improve sentiment towards the company.

8.Post and discuss company events in the ‘Events’ application on Facebook. With the simple addition of a Facebook application, you can notify your fans and followers of any upcoming business events. Fans can then ask questions about them, you can invite fans to discuss the events and encourage engagement. Once you have a substantial fan base, imagine the reach that you will have (and it’s completely free!).

9.Once you have increased traffic to your company page, utilise Facebook Insights. Facebook Insights enable you to see important information about the number of visitors to your page, along with facts about their demographics. This is an invaluable source of information about the profile of people who are interested in your company page. Again, this provides an effective source of market insight.

10.Advertising on Facebook. Advertising on Facebook works for many companies. But remember that a good social media content strategy will help you to generate ample free content and reach.

About Us

Our top ten tips have been developed from the range of training courses which are delivered by Zoodikers Consulting and Katie King at The Social Media Academy . Our discussions with the owners of many small businesses mean that we understand what matters.

At Zoodikers Consulting, we are true advocates of the benefits of engaging in social media. One size doesn’t fit all – so if you need help with your social media content strategy, don’t hesitate to get in touch.