Small businesses often miss the mark when using Facebook to effectively grow a quality fan base and engage with their community.
We asked Amy Porterfield, co-author of Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies , to share some expert tips on how to use Facebook to your business's advantage. Here's what she had to say.
1. Build up your Facebook fan base, because fan count matters.
"Fan count really does matter," Porterfield says. "For starters, your fan count acts as social proof and can attract new fans."
It can also increase your traffic. Porterfield says HubSpot recently did a study of 4,000 small businesses and found that those with more than 500 fans saw 3.5 times more traffic than pages with less than 500 fans. Fan pages with more than 1,000 fans had 22 times more traffic than those with less than 1,000 fans.
“As a small business, it's worth your time and energy to focus on growing a quality fan base," says Porterfield.
2. Use Facebook engagement ads to build a quality fan base quickly.
"Facebook engagement ads...promote and increase the exposure of your Facebook page. So you are not running ads that are linking to external pages, say a sales page outside of Facebook, but instead you are keeping your target audience inside Facebook and driving them to your fan page," says Porterfield.
When you set up an engagement ad, the key is to create an ad that grabs your audience's attention with a thought provoking call to action. "For example, if I were a personal trainer, I might create an ad that says, ‘Click Like if you struggle to find time to work out regularly,'" Porterfield says. "When someone clicks the Like button in the ad, they automatically become a fan of my Facebook Page."
3. When using ads, send people to a custom tab, never to your page’s wall.
"Since conversations are happening on your wall at any given time, it's confusing for someone who lands there for the first time before being introduced to your business," Porterfield says. "Most importantly, this custom tab allows you to give a call-to-action and encourage the potential fan to click the like button."
Studies have shown that about 99% of people, once they visit to your Facebook page for the first time, will never actually type in your Facebook page URL to check out your page again, Porterfield notes. Instead, if they click your Like button and become a fan of your page, they will then start to see your updates in their news feed.
“You're actually missing out on a huge opportunity if you get potential fans to your page, but they leave without becoming a part of your community," she says. "Chances are, you won't see them again."
4. Focus your landing tab on getting the "like," then reward your fan with the "reveal tab."
When you attract potential fans to your custom welcome tab, keep things simple and focus only on encouraging them to click the "like" button, Porterfield says. Then, you can create something called a 'reveal tab' that changes and reveals new information once they've "liked" your page.
The reveal tab might offer an opt-in giveaway you've set up, or a free report or maybe a free video series, in exchange for their name and email. Facebook is a terrific lead source if you use it strategically and always focus on delivering value, Porterfield says.
5. Engage your fans.
“Facebook uses an algorithm to score engagement activities, and they are monitoring if people are engaging with your posts," Porterfield says. "That means if you rarely get your fans to engage with your posts--leave a comment, click "like" next to a post, share it with their friends--Facebook takes note and may decide that your posts are not important enough to send out into the news feeds of all your fans."
Here are three ways to engage your audience, according to Porterfield:
- Ask easy questions. When you ask a question, make sure that it won't take a lot of effort to answer it. If it takes a lot of time and thought to answer your questions, your fans are less likely to engage.
- Mix things up. Of course you should talk about your industry and your business, but it's also important to throw some fun in there too. Most people on Facebook are not necessarily there to talk business, so make sure to not only focus on the business.
- Use fans’ names. Using your fans names can go a long way in growing real relationships. This small gesture makes people feel heard and adds a personal touch.
- Stick around. The magic of Facebook happens in the back and forth conversations. After you post, it's important that you stick around for a few minutes, or at least monitor your post, to respond to fan comments in real-time as much as possible.
Amy Porterfield is a social media strategist, public speaker, and author of Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies. You can find out more about her at AmyPorterfield.com  and read the entire transcript of this interview here .