How small business owners can acquire customers through Facebook

How small business owners can acquire customers through Facebook

Posted: Thu 6th Dec 2018

Facebook offers small business owners access to a huge audience of potential customers with a massive amount of data to target them.

But it's not easy to grow your company's reach and acquire customers. Business owners and social media consultants from the Enterprise Nation member community share their advice on acquiring customers.

Start by thinking about your goal

It's important to start by thinking about what you want from a Facebook campaign. Are you aiming to grow your email list, drive people to your premises or something else?

Changes to the Facebook news feed have made it more difficult for small businesses to get content in front of people that follow their pages.

Arts and crafts company M.Y.O. gets 10-15% of customers through its Facebook page. It has 1,050 likes but co-founder Sam Lehane says posts only reach about 10% of that group.

"One thing that can help is having five to 10 people lined up to like and share it. That makes it more relevant and more likely to get great interaction."

Louise Brogan, social media consultant at Social Bee, argues that organic reach on Facebook is alive and well. Instead, stressing the need to focus on writing for your target audience.

The difficulty of acquiring customers through an organic Facebook presence means many business owners turn to paid advertising.

It's possible to experiment for a relatively low cost. Louise recommends starting with a budget of between £3 and £5 per day and allowing your advert to run for at least three days to track performance. She says:

"Only add more money when you know the advert is converting into leads for your business.

"Take time to learn how to use Facebook Ads Manager and understand the different levels of objectives; awareness, engagement and conversion."

Segment your audience to acquire customers

Segmentation helps target adverts to customers who are relevant to your business, and Facebook has a huge amount of data you can use.

365DaySocial founder Faye Morgan says:

"Segmenting allows you to focus your content on people who have different   needs. It's useful if you're targeting a range of audiences or if you offer   several products or services to the same audience." 

Faye recommends considering the following when building customer profiles and planning content:

  • Where they live and how old they are

  • Interests and what their personality is like

  • Where and how they shop

  • The pain points your business can help resolve

  • What time they're on social media

When you know who your ideal client is, you can use words and images that resonate with them. Combining a relevant tone with an offer that helps to solve their issue is powerful.

Louise Brogan says:

"You have to do the groundwork in advance. I could be looking for local fitness classes for women over 40 to start in the new year. If you show me an advert over Christmas of someone who looks and talks like me then I will click and try your class!"

M.Y.O.'s Sam also recommends testing Facebook adverts by spending £3 to £5 per day for a week or two to boost your posts.

"Target audience profiles that represent different segments of your customer base. For example, women aged 30 to 50 who read Country Living magazine and go to the V&A museum. See which sort of profile best interacts best with the advert.

"You should avoid putting lots of money behind broad demographics."

M.Y.O. spends about £125 per month on Facebook ads now it's developed its strategy.

Create Facebook-friendly content

Content is crucial to building a Facebook audience and acquiring customers. Creating great content takes time.

Content calendars outline the themes you're going to cover, improve accountability and help generate ideas. It's important to be consistent and deliver what your audience is looking for – there are no shortcuts!

The business owners we talked to provided some other short tips on creating content that converts.

1. Facebook loves video

Videos are an eye-catching way to capture attention and build engagement, although they may not generate as many clicks as images.

Sam Lehane says:

"Video on Facebook is effective. Facebook tends to push video more, so it gets more views. My main advice is to practise – just get started and put them out – ask for feedback and include subtitles on videos."

M.Y.O London

2. Tools to create great Facebook content

There are lots of free tools to help you create content that stands out. Here's a list of Faye Morgan's favourites for working with images and videos.

3. Talk about yourself

People love buying from small businesses. Putting personality into your posts is engaging and can be fun.

Faye Morgan says:

"Many of us shy away from showing ourselves on social media. But if we're a small business then it helps to know about the person behind the brand.

"I want to know why you've set up the business. Perhaps a sneak peek behind the scenes to show how much care goes into the product."

4. Post regularly, but don't sell all the time

It's important to balance sales messages with posts sharing content like photos, advice and how-to videos. Post sales messages too often and you risk damaging customer engagement – Facebook is a social media tool.

Sam Lehane recommends making every fourth or fifth post or so a 'buy this' type of post.

5. User teaser content to drive website traffic

Social Bee's Louise Brogan suggests keeping original content on your website and using snippets of it on your social media to drive traffic.

She creates a weekly blog or podcast that has five or six main points of advice. These are used as individual posts on Facebook driving traffic to the website to read the full article.

6. Instagram might be better for your business

Pipity founder and director Kate de Bass had mixed results from different social media platforms. She eventually settled on Instagram rather than Facebook.

She says:

"Over the past couple of weeks, Instagram generated 45% of traffic to the website and sales are up on last year! It is easy to tag your products in images, which notify visitors with a shopping basket tag in the top right corner."

Pipity's Instagram account grew from 600 to 2,250 followers between September and the end of November using the following tactics, according to Kate:

  • Making sure my Instagram feed is clear and easy to view, which entices visitors to scroll through my posts

  • Using considered hashtags, which my target audience might use in searches on Instagram. We use a variety which are relevant to my products, like #familytravel, #giftsforkids and #kidsartandcraft

  • Interacting with my target market by commenting on and liking their posts

  • Running competitions such as offering to give away a Pipity Activity Case, which received 124 comments

Make sure people are reviewing your page

Customer reviews help build trust and encourage potential customers to contact your business.

M.Y.O. asks people to sign up for its newsletter at the end of each class. Those people then get an automated email saying thanks and how important customers reviews are to the business. At the time of writing, M.Y.O. had an incredible 43 five-star reviews.

Test and iterate – it takes time to make Facebook work

Getting traction and acquiring customers through Facebook takes time. Building up followers is difficult and figuring out how to target customers effectively requires experimentation.

Try to enjoy the process and the content you create. Don't give up too soon either; everyone struggles to build audiences from scratch.

Sam Lehane says:

"The way you need to do this is test, assess and then double down on what works with the budget and time that you have.

"There is a class on right now in the studio upstairs that was an enquiry through Facebook Messenger a week after we put it on the website."

Relevant resources

Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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