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Facebook for small business marketing - think pictures!

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Social media like Facebook has proven to be mystifying for many small businesses, with plenty of people aware that it’s a free and useful form of Internet marketing but very few aware of just how to take advantage of it.

One of the simplest first steps to improving what you’re doing is to put yourself in the place of the audience. What does the typical Facebook user like or share around? Most often it’s things which are funny, surprising or informative in some way, like "lolcats", guys parachuting from outer space or informative videos.

Statistics add a new and unsurprising layer to this, image based content gets twice as many likes as text based content, humans are visual creatures after all. We’re far more likely to share around those pictures of lolcats and guys parachuting from outer space than a description of either.

So how can you apply this to your small business?

The best approach is to try out a few things and see what works in terms of gathering Facebook likes or shares, you will probably get very few at first but try adding things regularly each day or a couple of times a week and you should find something that works and starts to build more of a following.

Instructional options are one of the easiest, most small business owners have some kind of useful or specialist knowledge they can share, giving the audience something useful and gaining trust from them in the process, if it can be done in a funny way then so much the better.

One popular small business Facebook page is for a company that sells egg carton labels to farmers, they decided to use their Facebook to target their smaller customers, like families with a few chickens in the back garden. They offer lots of fun image content and also pieces on good chicken care which builds a perception of their brand as fun, engaging and loving to chickens, building them nearly 20,000 likes; for a company making labels to stick on egg cartons!

In this way they’re also imparting useful expert knowledge without doing any damage to their sales. Think about the frequently asked questions you get from your customers, wouldn’t it be easy to do a little instructional video, even just on a smartphone, to answer those questions and put it out across your social media profiles?

In terms of more focused humourous/surprising content, try taking a step outside the concept of marketing = showing off, imagine you are a plumber for example. You may find the new plumbing pipework you just fitted a thing of beauty and want to share a photo of it but on Facebook the only people likely to be interested are other plumbers. What the general public might find more interesting is a photo of the horrible DIY plumbing botch job that you were called in to put right, you can always make it a before/after image as well.

This “the horrors I witness” angle can work for almost any business sector as can “amazing things I see”; perhaps you’re on the road a lot and regularly spot amusing place names or odd vehicles, or find yourself having to come up with the occasional Heath Robinson invention to get the job done which shows off some ingenuity.

Even if you work with Internet gold like animals it can help to consider alternative angles. People are more likely to share content from a dog groomer who shows awkward looking wet dogs or dogs with half styled bouffants that make them laugh than photos of the finished product which just look like... A clean dog.

These everyday things you don’t really think about could provide a useful stream of entertaining content that builds your following and encourages positive brand association, so when one of them finally needs a plumber, dog groomer or egg carton label they know exactly who to go to.