At Facebook, it's my job to make it easier for small businesses to use Facebook and reach more customers. Earlier this year, in an attempt to learn more about how small businesses use Facebook, I traveled around the world meeting small business owners face to face. The range of expertise and passion was astounding:  

A tattoo artist in Dublin (DublinInk)

An dog-focused ecommerce provider in New York (BarkBox)

A children's clothier in Buenos Aires (Likeeds)

A local entertainment attraction owner in Ohio (Scene75)

And a women's fashion retailer in Singapore (Ministry of Retail)

What I learned from my travels was this: There's no better way to get practical advice for growing your business than through other business owners. And the same is true for advice using social media to the fullest extent. And while every owner had a unique perspective on how to run their business, the growth tactics they used are overall surprisingly similar. 

Bright, colorful images really stand out.  Yvonne at Ministry of Retail discovered the power of bright photographs to showcase her products-- the same techniques that Javier from Likeeds used for kids clothing in Argentina. Javier and Yvonne were separated by ocean, currency, and language yet could have been business partners with their shared approach. 

Be yourself-- not a social media robot. A lot of businesses I talked to said that when they started their Page, they were worried about what to post, how to phrase things. And then over time they realized the more conversational they were, the more human and authentic they sounded. They embodied their brand by being themselves. That's what Facebook is all about. A great example of this is Barkbox, a monthly delivery service for pet goods. Check out their page.

Don't be afraid to experiment. Small businesses know their customers well, but sometimes it takes trying new types of post promotions on Facebook to figure out what gets the best response. DublinInk's owner told me that he knew images of tattoos would be appealing to potential and current customers, but creating urgency around his posts-- like featuring art from a tattoo artist that is only in residence for a certain amount of time-- really helped get more people into his tattoo parlor. Test, refine, and repeat to increase sales.

Those were some of the most remarkably similar tactics used at small companies around the world. My last piece of advice would be-- if you're ever unsure how to get business from using Facebook, just ask another small business owner. As you can see in this column, you'd be surprised how many unique strategies have been thought up that you could use. 

Recently, I've been grounded from international travel as my wife and I are expecting our third child. I'm taking advantage of the time to meet local businesses that use Facebook. And knowing that what I'm learning is universally applicable. Plus, pictures of baby clothes from around the world are universally cute.