If you don’t have a website for your small business then perhaps Facebook is a good alternative. In a matter of minutes you can create a Page about your organisation, giving you an instant web presence, as well as the added bonus of being readily accessible to millions of active users via Facebook search.
Although major employers and a vital part of the economy, Australian small businesses lag behind in the website stakes, with less than half of all small businesses having a website. In the US the opposite is true – most businesses have a website and up to 70 percent also have a Facebook presence.
Facebook users don’t expect to be sold to online however. Rather, social media is a way to make yourself more approachable to customers, and develop relationships.
Business owner Suzi Dafnis, is a great believer in small businesses harnessing the power of online and social media to help growth.
“It’s not a gimmick and it’s not going to go away. It’s not a marketing tool, it’s a way to engage with your customers,” she said in an interview with Dynamic Business Magazine, out this week.
Before making a purchase or employing a contractor, these days most people look online first for information. While the 30 plus age bracket rely on search engines, the under 30s are starting to search within the space they are in: Facebook. Having a presence within the medium makes these Facebook searchers more likely to find you. With people aged 55 being the fastest growing group of new users on Facebook it also makes it easier for these people to recommend your business or service to their networks.
“You don’t have to use all of social media, either. Find a tool that helps you do what you do better or reach a goals,” said Ms Dafnis.
To get started, join up to Facebook using an existing email address. Once you’ve joined, adjust your privacy settings to hide your birthday, address and other personal information if you wish. (You can do this in “privacy settings”. For individuals, choosing NOT to allow your data to be indexed by search engines is advisable. This is will have no impact on your business page, but gives you a bit more peace of mind for you).When you get time, you can go back later and add a bit more information about yourself to share with you friends.
To create your business page go to http://www.facebook.com/pages/learn.php. Read through the overview, prepare, step by step, and find new fans tabs. When you are ready, click the green button at the top of the page “Create a Page”. Choose “local business or place”. For some businesses, the “brand or product” is more appropriate – if so, choose that. Do a bit of thinking about the name of your page – keep it simple. From there, just follow the steps provided by Facebook, and you’re up and away!