Facebook is no longer just for the young at heart, students or otherwise. It has has become the small business advertising choice de jour, with better business and networking tools popping up daily. We look at how you can effectively use Facebook to supplement your income or expand your small business reach.
Supplement your income with your hobby
It’s the dream isn’t it? To make money doing what you love. Using Facebook Pages, you can set up your very own little e-Commerce empire, build a community of interested buyers and network with likeminded people (who’ll refer your work if you play your cards right).
Of course, it’s not just hobbies that are making money on Facebook, with such a diverse and plentiful market, there are buyers of just about everything hanging out there. Small business services, importers, former eBay retailers, professional services…., it’s just a matter of finding and infiltrating your demographic.
Get ready to be surprised
Here are some surprising Facebook demographic stats:
- Facebook has approximately 950 million unique visitors per month
- 54% of Facebook users are 35-54
- Only 14% of Facebook users are under 25
- 58% have an annual household income over US$50,000
- Users are 59% Female
- Users are interested in online communities, apps, online goodies, fashion, music, computing and technological items.
Ad agencies spend billions via traditional advertising, trying to find and impress these asset rich demographics. Due to generally low entry costs, social media can be a great leveller. As an example, the Facebook Page of a big Bank might not be significantly different from that of the local butcher and in many cases your "investment" only requires your time.
Your potential customers are already spending their free time online chatting, working and shopping. Do the right things and your message or offering might just resonate.
So, who makes money on facebook?
Not everyone, that’s for sure. Facebook takes time, has lower conversion rates than traditional media and is best suited to people with a sociable and friendly personality. So who is thriving on Facebook? People who know how to work a “virtual” room.
How to Claim Your Piece of the Pie
To start you’ll need your own personal Facebook profile. If you don’t have one already, simply go to the home page and follow directions. Once you have it, you’ll need to set up a page for your business.
Remember, a profile is for your personal networking, but Facebook Pages, Apps and Groups are for your business, get them confused and risk being shut down!
And it goes without saying that you will also need to be able to offer some product or service. If you already have a business, see how your products and any associated activity or interest could tailored to the Facebook audience. It might be as simple as a offering support or just creating a place where your existing clients and potential clients can learn or share.
If you are looking for a few new ideas why not read some of the following articles:
How to get set up right
Once you have your personal Facebook profile setup the next step is to set up a Facebook Page. Simply visit any page on Facebook (BigPond Money for example) and click “Create a Page” or go directly to http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php
Select the kind of business you plan to create (Companies and Organizations give you the best Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) properties) and name the page with your brand name and with keywords.
This is important. Let’s say your business is called "Tom’s Fine Creations" and you sell decorator furniture in Sydney, you should call your page "Tom’s Fine Furniture Sydney" that way, you’re telling potential customers and search engines where you are and what you do. Set your custom URL (in Edit Page) to www.facebook.com/FineFurnitureSydney Google doesn’t see Facebook very well, so you have to help it out!
The key elements
Similar to search engines, the authenticity of a business page on Facebook is crucial. While search engines such as Google have their unique ways of measuring "authority", Facebook has its own social "signals" integrated into their search calculations.
So completing all the descriptive sections of your Facebook Page, with particular emphasis on descriptive keywords, will be extreamly useful in helping your presence be found. Also don't forget to upload your logo and a suitable cover image.
Be thorough when you describe your activity or company. On a basic level it simply makes your page look more professional. On a deeper level, Facebook and other search engines will use the copy and the keywords contained within, to assist with displaying search results.
The About box should have all your keywords together in a short simple sentence or paragraph such as:
"Tom’s Fine Creations sells fine handmade and designer furniture to the Sydney market."
Company Overview and Description
When your link is posted on other pages a little “ad” comes up for your page. Depending on the type of business you specified, this ad will be taken from either the Company Overview or Description section. Make sure you put your web address first in this box. This not only gives you a link back to your site, which is good for SEO, but also allows anyone seeing that post to find you online. If you don’t have a website, make sure your contact details are there.
This is probably what users are most interested in. Make sure you offer a direct phone number, email contact, and your main website address. Don't forget that the ultimate goal is to sell your product or service by redirecting users to your website, or ideally getting them to call you directly. You are effectively just building a funnel to draw customers in.
This is where you can list all your keywords for very specific items. Instead of "night stands" use "timber night stands Sydney". While Google isn’t great at reading Facebook, Facebook is the second most powerful website on Earth, so your page gets a boost from that popularity. These specific keywords will help you to get visitors ready to buy, straight from their Google searches.
Wall posts also contribute to your Google ranks. Use your keywords frequently and post at least twice a week. Use photos and video regularly to keep your likers interested and if your product is visually exciting, set your landing tab to "Photos".
Edit Page and Insights
Get to know the Edit Page and Insights sections. These help you control and monitor how well your page works. Keep an eye on which posts get the best response and create more posts like that, this will keep your fans interested and coming back.
Facebook decides how well your site does based on how interested your fans are, the algorithm it uses is called Edgerank. It counts how many interactions your fans have with your page in the first 24 hours after each post, the higher the interaction rate, the more posts your fans see from your page. In the early days, it may pay to ask friends to comment on your posts to build your Edgerank.
How to Get Your First 100 Fans
To start, it’s all about "bums on seats". You need enough fans to get your page up and running right. Friends and family will likely be your first fans but beyond that it’s time to network.
Shout Outs, Promotes, Like Ladders, Marches and Silent Tagging
Enter these terms into the search box and find dozens of pages ready and willing to help you build your page. Go to their pages and say hello. Use the @ key to "tag" (create a link) to your page. Tell them you’re brand new and after your first fans. They’ll help you to grow using reciprocated likes with other businesses. This will put bums on seats but won’t deliver you many customers.
Start searching. Find like-minded businesses that are NOT in competition with you. Decorators, manchester makers, retailers… anyone who can refer their existing clients to you. Say hello. Don’t be pushy. Don’t ask for anything. Just appear on their radar. Start interacting with their pages, join in the conversation, get to know their brand and their products. You can then recommend them if the opportunity arises, suddenly, you’re part of the network!
You can also find business networks in your area, like minded networks (Facebook Dads, Sydney sellers etc) and "Find It" pages. Find It pages allow Facebook users to post items they need and for people in your network to refer them to you.
A Few Tips
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Facebook hosts a thriving network of "at home businesses", find them, get involved and see your "liker count" swell
- Facebook’s social and cooperative culture is ideal for cultivating a network of referral businesses. Be nice, recommend others and see it returned.
- The best way to win a sale is to bond with the buyer. Facebook is all about getting people hooked on your brand, not about advertising.
- Facebook promotions work a treat, just read up on the guidelines first or you could find your account suspended!
- Make it easy to want you and easy to buy from you with plenty of pictures, a proper contact tab and a professional welcome tab.
- While Facebook is free to use, its paid advertising allows for extremely precise targeting, ideal for increasing conversion rates. A stand out picture and a short, action-packed message make the perfect ad.
- Fill in plenty of information, identify yourself as the owner and be personal yet professional.
The key to supplementing your income is to keep your overheads low and target the right audience, making Facebook the perfect place to reel in those extra dollars.
And of course please Like BigPond Money on facebook.