Lee Odden

Essential Q & A on Facebook Marketing for Small Business

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, Social Media

Facebook Marketing Small BusinessFacebook Marketing is on the mind of just about every company with an online presence, small and large, BtoB and BtoC. The fast pace of the social web right along with changes in consumer behaviors and technology can make it a challenge to nail down specific and enduring best practices.

Recently I participated in a webinar on social media ROI that took a holistic view of the value created by social engagement, beyond direct customer acquisition. Many of the questions from that webinar reflect the growing curiosity about specific social media applications and websites. We couldn’t get to all the questions so I’ve compiled them into similar topics starting with Facebook.

Some of the questions are fairly common and others are unique. Hopefully you’ll get value from these answers and feel free to ask your own in the comments.

How do we know if a Facebook presence makes sense for our company?

As with any online marketing investment, including social media and networks, determining which social communities a brand should engage with in order to reach a particular business outcome starts with knowing a few key things:

  1. What characterizes the customer or conversation that you’re after?
  2. What’s your hypothesis about how Facebook will help you reach a business goal?
  3. What approach to the social web makes the most sense for engaging identified customer personas and communities for the desired business outcome?

To the extent that Facebook appears as an answer to these questions, it will become clear whether Facebook makes sense as part of an online marketing and social media strategy. These questions are essential for just about any kind of online marketing, not just social media and not just for Facebook.

What is the demographic for Facebook?

Recently Ken Burbary shared a compendium of Facebook demographic information on Facebook: Facebook Demographics Revisited – 2011 Statistics that pretty much answers this question.

You can also get some of the information you need in the process of setting up a Facebook advertisement. The query you perform to identify audience can return useful demographic information.

Does Facebook really get you new customers or just keep you in touch with people who already know who you are?

At TopRank Online Marketing, our key focus on internet marketing and social media strategy is on customer interaction with content. With that bias, I would say the answer to this question about acquiring and engaging customers through Facebook is revealed by understanding your customer preferences for content discovery, consumption and sharing.

These behaviors are certainly present on Facebook pages through the Wall, News Feed, internal and external linking to content and Liking of content. There are myriad ways for new and existing customers to engage on Facebook including interactions initiated due to advertising.

Being able to attract new customers directly through Facebook vs. indirectly or through other social media participation has to do with how your brand conducts itself on Facebook. In many cases, Facebook is part of a multi step sales cycle that attracts interest and then presents offers and information on the company blog, website or other digital experiences that educate.

Recently a client of ours asked whether an ecommerce effort on Facebook made sense for their online store. They have a fairly active Fan page.

My advice was that while we could research the propensity for customers to buy via Facebook, we could also see the low price point of a Facebook store as an opportunity to lead their category with a new feature. Facebook shopping in the short term might not get them a significant increase in direct sales, but it will help show existing customers they’re finding new ways to be innovativel. It’s also newsworthy and could attract new customers via publicity.

One must be careful investing in technology for publicity vs. functionality. Look no further than the obscene amounts of money spent on Second Life for examples of that tactic going awry. But if social features are practical AND newsworthy with a reasonable price point, it’s the kind of investment that can win new customers and reinforce your brand with current customers.

Is it important to add to your Facebook page a certain number of times a week?

Participation on Facebook can start with some guidelines inspired by success with similar efforts, but should be fine tuned to the needs of your own community. We’ve seen some clients daily posting work well while others might post a few times per week.

Facebook Insights provide specific information on how your Fans engage with the page, so start out by posting a few times per week. Keep it focused on being useful and shareable. Increase or decrease post frequency and topics accordingly. Don’t over promote your own information, but follow the themes established in your social content strategy. Ask questions, promote your wall posts and be patient. Give positive feedback to the behaviors you’re looking for and make moderation efforts swift.

How important is it to provide customer service on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Do customers expect it?

If customer service on Facebook is part of your Social Media Strategy and hypothesis, then it makes a lot of sense, My personal observations of consumer expectations is that social features are becoming a more familiar part of the online and brand experience. Customers expect to find and interact with search results. They expect blogs with commenting functionality. They look for Twitter and Facebook sharing options when they read brand content. When favorite brands market themselves on social channels it’s not a surprise anymore, its expected. Customer service is no different.

Deciding to embark on offering customer service via social networks like Facebook should be a thoughtful consideration. It’s not something to be started and then killed. Social media monitoring and first hand participation should reveal demand and companies can plan and forecast resources accordingly.

What are some of the best ways to measure conversions on Facebook?

First, we should define what a “conversion” is, in the context of your goals for Facebook participation. Is it attracting “Fans”, signing customers up for a free sample, getting visitors to redeem a Facebook coupon, or making direct product or service inquiries?

According to your goals, the right measurement scheme will provide the best ways to measure conversions on Facebook. There are a number of Facebook analytics approaches and tools worth checking out. Stores within Facebook can measure sales, sites that focus on recruiting staff might count how many applications they get. Other Facebook pages might simply count and qualify the comments, wall posts and community generated content as measures of engagement. It really depends on what you’re trying to achieve.

What goals do you have for your own Facebook Fan pages? How are you measuring success with Facebook Marketing?

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Avatar Jenny Tsai says

    I do think fackbook is a powerful tool, but in the other hand, we need to use it wisely. Good article.

  2. This is an excellent and well written article on Facebook marketing for business. Could I also highlight a similar posting that I have done: http://www.ncoded.com/2010/05/facebook-business-web-marketing/

  3. Avatar Anonymous says

    The low price point is a key observation. Setting up a Facebook page takes a few hours and no high level system skills are needed. So why not at least be in the game? Will it help your sales if you are in the plastic injection molding business? Almost certainly not but why not at least have some visibility on a site that is on the very short list of most highly trafficked on the Web. The February switch to iFrames means that you are now serving the Facebook content from your server so that you know exactly how people are using it and how it is converting.

    • Cost of entry isn’t the only cost though – there are resources to make it worth doing and with many companies, there is some level of accountability required. There must be value created or it could detract from the brand.

      Imagine a basic FB page for a company that cost them next to nothing but doesn’t offer anything of real interest. An experience with low value (ie low cost) social presence does not further the business goals for a company.

      I agree that FB offers many temptations, but I’d also suggest that if it’s worth doing, do it well and create a relevant experience. and offer value whether the cost is low, mid or high.

  4. I’m not sure anyone knows how to truly capitalize on social marketing…

  5. Very nice summary of the essentials for businesses. I’ll be sharing this.

    thx, Jeff

  6. have to say enjoyed your article, you answered a few questions I didn’t know I should be asking…thank you,,,,,

  7. I appreciate the clarity of your presentation.
    Several of our clients have enjoyed growth and increased profit form well planned Facebook Marketing Strategy.
    I will be sharing this post as reinforcement.
    Thanks again

  8. thanks for this well written article! facebook marketing is powerful and we should all use it!

  9. I had several successful campaigns in Facebook and is way different on how target people compared to adwords. I like the way it does it and i must say that the whole key in Facebook ads is the “Likes and Interests” field. This is the genius part that makes facebook ads so special, unique and successful.

    Thanks for the article

  10. Avatar Rtomsaxton says

    Great article. I feel facebook is necessary to any business nowadays. I’ll keep all these tips in mind.

  11. Utilizing Facebook as a marketing strategy can be really powerful. However you also need to be wise to know if this works well for you as this does not apply to all, as there are other factors that still need to be considered (your target client’s preferences, etc.) Nevertheless, opting to engage in Facebook marketing won’t lose you so much as it’s one way of advertising your site the cheap way.

  12. Facebook certainly is tricky. Even if you can’t accurately measure the success of your efforts, having a presence will serve any business in the long run.

  13. I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed your insight on marketing through Facebook. I completely agree with you when you say through the Facebook wall, the News Feed, the linking of content, and the liking of content, that there are many different ways to attract new and existing customers. I myself have seen the attention Facebook is getting from all generations and think it is a very smart way to market your product or business. I think that all firms looking to successful need to get on Facebook.

  14. The easiest measurement for feedback from FaceBook, for me, has been to simply get a quick Google Analytics snapshot of how much traffic is coming to my site, via FaceBook. I find that people who are really interested in me, make there way to my website as soon as possible.

    In fact I’ve seen people get frustrated when they can’t easily find a person’s website on FaceBook.

  15. Thanks for this post Lee. As for our facebook page, we’re keeping track of the number of fans and their likes, comments and feedbacks on our posts. I am glad if I see our page getting more and more fans daily since this means that more people are keeping an eye on our posts.

    And by the way, the new Facebook Questions is very helpful in driving traffic and encouraging your fans to participate. 🙂

  16. Avatar Smithbl says

    Facebook pages are good advertisement for company, especially since you can target specific demographics and people with interests, but is it as useful for small companies too?

    • It certainly is! You can target the right people for any sized business. I like using alexa.com to get a demographic layout of the types of people who visit a specific site, then use that info to target people on Facebook. Works the same with small or big business. 

  17. Avatar MediaMate says

    Facebook is definitely a great way to attract the college market. There are also great youth advertising agencies that can help small businesses

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  19. Hi Lee, 

    “What goals do you have for your own Facebook Fan pages? How are you measuring success with Facebook Marketing?”

    Main goal is building long term relationships on our pages and creating life long fans, not just getting the number of likes up and then killing edge rank. there is nothing worse than seeing a page with 50,000 fans and virtually no comments like or shares.

    We measure using link and phone tracking software to gauge conversions.

  20. Avatar kylenelson says

    hello lee,
    I always have a hard time getting fans in the beginning stages of launching a fan page. It can be tricky to get that first launch up and on its feet. I have notice though if i update if not a few times a day it usually helps with conversions. I usually am addicted to staring at my analytics to see who is clicking what and what they are clicking and the time of the days and etc. . .. . Its great to really benchmark your page to see where traffic is coming and going. When i first launch a page i usually outsource and plump my page up a little with new fans to build the social credibility of the page. I use the services of http://newfacebooklikes.com Legitimate and friendly customer service as well. Have you ever had much luck with cross promoting with different pages? I know i will try everyonce in awhile but never much luck. I have been getting into talking to other facebook page owners and swapping statues. That seems to really help with new fans!
    Great blog!!

    • It’s certainly a common approach to buy fans at the beginning of a program and I do think cross promotion between pages can be useful. Visiting other pages and interacting in a useful way as well as tagging them from your own page can help cross-pollinate audiences.