On Tuesday, the five-stop Facebook Fit summer tour kicked off in New York City. Announced in the beginning of May, the initiative is a "bootcamp" aimed at helping small business owners succeed on the social platform.
"If you know how to use Facebook as a person, you can use Facebook for business," said Dan Levy, the company's director of small business, in his keynote speech. He also provided a rundown of tools and technologies on the platform for small business owners.
Following Levy's remarks was a discussion among a panel of local entrepreneurs: Emmanuel Peña, co-owner of Harlem's Astor Row Café; Tavy Ronen, co-owner of The Yarn Company; Alexandra Barber, digital marketer at Roundabout Theatre Company; and Jacqueline Donovan, marketing executive at Fairway market. The group shared the tips and tricks they use to better connect with their respective audiences on the platform. Here are some of the major takeaways:
Get your employees engaged
If you can't get the people whose paychecks you sign to get involved with your brand, you can't expect strangers to either. Peña makes sure all his employees check in on Facebook when they show up to work so their friends know when they are manning the counter at his café. "It is about getting personal with your customers," he said, adding that he employs a similar tactic with customers who are looking for Wi-Fi--to get the password, they have to go on Facebook and indicate that they're at the café.
Use your fans to get more fans
Fairway has gotten an overwhelming response when it has asked customers on Facebook to take part in promotions aimed at drumming up new businesss. "There is nothing better than the power of the fans that you already have. Let them introduce you," Donovan said. "It's more rewarding than you think."
Get visual on social
"We try hard to be cohesive in what we post. So the designs and the colors that we have in the store, we [include in photos] on Facebook," Ronen said. "To be perfectly honest, sometimes we get a better response on Facebook through the two dimensional than we do in the store."
Barber added that almost 100 percent of Roundabout's content is visual. "We see the most engagement using photos but we do vary it and use videos as well. Visual is key," he said.
Check out the competition
Donovan shared the importance of looking at other businesses' pages for new ideas. "It's not plagiarism--it's called search and reapply," she joked. "Truly you can get a lot of great ideas."
When the panel was asked how they use Facebook to retain customers, they stressed the importance of engaging with them whenever possible. "Sometimes it is the little things like liking a comment that someone took the time to make. It seems really simple but people like feedback," Donovan said. "Just like you like feedback about your business, [customers] want to know that you listen."
Be Authentic on Social Media
Don't just follow the social media crowd. Be honest and stay true to your core values to represent your real brand.