Using Facebook for small busineses

Over 800 million people are currently on Facebook, so it’s no surprise every business wants to use the social networking site to drive their business. But how do you create a community and engage with them effectively? Kirby Koo, Manager of Small and Medium Business Growth at Facebook gives us some top tips that will help you get the most out of your business’ Facebook Page.

1. Get to know your fans

The best way to get your fans to talk about your business with their friends is to understand what they care about. Use Page Insights regularly to track which posts sparked conversations and sharing, then try to keep posting this kind of content.

It’s worth remembering that no matter how engaging your posts are, not all of your fans will see them in their News Feed. To make sure that more people see your posts, you can use Page Post ads which are a great way to reach a wide audience and get more people to Like and engage with your Page. And because these ads are telling people what their friends are Liking and interacting with they are much more effective because of that social context.

2. Stand out from the crowd

Don’t forget that people’s News Feeds contain a lot of information and they are busy so probably won’t have time to read everything. Your posts are a reflection of your business but keep them short and snappy, ideally less than three lines. Pictures are also a powerful way to grab people’s attention so try to include related images when you post.

3. Post regularly

It’s important to keep up the conversation with your fans so that you build a real relationship with potential. You wouldn’t stop talking to a friend for six months and then try and start up a conversation out of the blue, so you should treat your Facebook Page in the same way! There are no hard and fast rules for the optimum amount of posts and only you know how often your fans want to hear from you. If you run a small shop for example you may want to post a few times a week when new products come in, however often you decide to post, make sure you post consistently.

4. Start conversations

Your Page should be a place for conversations between you and your fans. You can ask people questions and make them feel involved with your decisions. Your Page is a real online community, so you can use it as a way to gather feedback about your business.

Facebook’s Questions feature allows you to ask your fans for ideas about how to improve your business. People can agree with an existing answer with a single click, or add a different response – this is incredibly easy and means your customers can engage with minimal effort. “Fill in the blank” posts can be particularly useful if you want to give your customers a very simple way to engage with your post by asking them to finish your sentence.

5. Reward your community

There are thousands of businesses on Facebook so you need to stand out from the crowd, you could reward your fans for liking your Page by offering competitions and special offers. Think about announcing new products to fans on Facebook before anywhere else, giving fans early access to sales, or posting exclusive photos from events on your Page.

6. Be relevant

Your fans will be more likely to notice your business’ Page if you post about relevant issues, post about special offers and mention the issue of the day – whether that’s the Oscars or Mother’s Day.

Visit to keep up with how you can use Facebook to market your business

Picture credit: Rex Features

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Six Social Media No-Nos for Small Business

The number one social media no-no for small businesses is ignoring social media marketing and the enormous potential that it offers. The beauty of social media is it can level the playing field for small businesses allowing them to compete with larger corporations. A recent national study reported 8 out of 10 companies, of all sizes, are using Social Media and planning to expand efforts.

If a business does not have accounts at some of the major social media sites – Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter – then it is missing out on potential sales,  free publicity,  increased brand awareness and traffic to its website. The social media enthusiasm and obvious business missteps are reminiscent of the mid-1990s and the early days of the world wide web when several major web portals were competing for attention.

Regardless of the obvious opportunity, this does not mean that a business should rush into creating mulitiple social media accounts before it knows what its doing and why it is doing it. Avoid the Fire – Ready – Aim approach where you can.

2. Acting without thinking is the number two social media no-no for business. Before creating a social media account, a business should:

  • Decide who is in charge of maintaining and updating the social media account
  • Decide on a marketing strategy (hint: Study what successful people in your field are doing.)
  • Create your company’s written social media communication guidelines/policy and tell your employees about it. Depending upon your company size, coordinate this with HR and Legal.
  • Be customised where you can. Examples: Create a custom-designed Twitter background and decide what avatar the business will use – a logo? A picture of a product? A picture of the owner?

3. The third social media business no-no is being too aggressive and self promoting

Social media marketing requires the soft sell. It’s important to get your marketing message out there and let people know about your upcoming sales, specials, contests, giveaways, promotions, etc., but it’s also important to interact with people on social media sites, have conversations, ask them about themselves and what they’re up to, and offer free advice about your area of expertise, if applicable. (See item 4)

It’s possible to sell yourself without sounding like a salesman. Instead of singing your own praises, talk about your accomplishments and how they helped someone else. Results can speak for themselves.

4. The fourth social media business no-no is being dishonest.

Integrity is required for long term success. Don’t use an avatar of a person that isn’t you, such as a scantily clad model. It makes people instantly suspicious when they see those avatars; they assume that it’s a spam account. Don’t send direct messages, tweets or updates that trick people into clicking on a link, such as saying “This is how I finally started driving traffic to my site!” with a link – which should lead to a blog post, but really leads to a Clickbank product. You will only fool people once.

Be transparent. People are smart. If your company has authorised staff to participate on the company’s behalf; they should say so. Goodwill can be generated if they share tips from their area of expertise in accordance with your communications guidelines for social media communications.

5. The fifth social media business no-no is neglecting your accounts.

Don’t create multiple accounts, then get bored and abandon them all. If you can not update an account – delete it. It creates a bad impression to create an account and then only update it every few months.  It’s worse than not having an account at all. It makes it look like you are a business that isn’t minding it’s store, that it doesn’t have enough personnel to actually run the business. While this may be true, you don’t want to publicise the fact.

6. The sixth social media no-no is breaking the social networking Golden Rule                

Genuine appreciation goes a long way. A largely unwritten rule of community and relationship building is thanking people and extending a helping hand or Tweet to the next person.  This is part of integrity but it is also simple common courtesy.

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5 ways that social media can be used for marketing a retail business

Social media is becoming an increasingly important element of many firms’ marketing efforts but independent retailers are slower to pick up the trend. However social media can benefit all types of business, including high street shops, restaurants and pubs.

Recent research has underlined the fact that many consumers now use the internet generally, and social media specifically, as their first port of call when looking for products or services. It is also the case that as many as 70 per cent of consumers now use social media to air their grievances about firms with which they have had a bad experience.

As a retail business owner you must ensure that you are properly harnessing the power of social media if you are to benefit and control the way your business is perceived online.
All too often when social media is used, business owners think it is enough to simply sign up to a few social networks and then forget about them. This is not an effective strategy. In reality, you will only get the most out of social media if you make a proper time investment.

So how can you best use social media as a marketing tool for your retail business? We have compiled a list of examples showing how other retailers have used social media marketing (often shortened to SMM) to great effect.


Twitter and other microblogging platforms provide an incredible, free marketing opportunity for independent retailers. The benefits are two-fold.

Firstly, they provide you with an opportunity to monitor what customers are saying about your firm in real-time, while allowing you to respond instantly. Secondly, they allow you to engage instantly with your customers about promotions, new products and other related news.

Zappos, the American footwear retailer, set the benchmark for Twitter engagement. It was an early adopter of the technology, using it for customer service and to promote offers, and has since set up an aggregation page that displays every mention of its brand – again, in real time. This helps to present Zappos as a reputable brand, and an active part of the social media community.

Facebook applications

Facebook is by far the most popular social network, and marketers have long been considering ways to make it work for them. It may not be an effective marketing tool for every retailer, but it is worth spending a bit of time trialling it to see whether it is right for your business.

IKEA have been responsible for some of the most innovative uses of Facebook. Late last year they ran a campaign in which photographs of IKEA storerooms were posted on the network, and Facebook users were told that whoever ‘tagged’ themselves on an item first would win it. This clever combination of interactivity and competition helped to create significant exposure for the retailer across Facebook – and, of course, got people talking offline as well.

Employee engagement

SMM tends to fail when it is obviously dictated from the top down. Instead, you should think about ways that you can encourage your employees to participate in your social networks and their own on behalf of your business. Enlisting their help will also cut down on the time you spend managing your social networks, which can end up being quite a lot!

Sainsbury’s has become increasingly proficient at this in recent months, developing a ‘cookalong’ scheme whereby employees cook a meal (with Sainsbury’s ingredients, of course) once a week and tweet the recipe as they cook.

The importance of listening

Remember that your SMM efforts will only succeed if you are prepared to listen to your customers, rather than talk at them. Unlike most other forms of marketing, social media facilitates conversation, rather than a one-way flow of information. BT understands this well; they monitor many social networks for mentions of their brand name, and respond to users where appropriate.

Bear in mind, though, that users will be instantly turned off by anything resembling spam. So avoid mass following on Twitter, or going on ‘friending’ sprees on Facebook. Instead, think about ways that you can encourage users to come to you.

The power of video

Many businesses underestimate the power of video content but for many people, video is a far more engaging medium than text or still image. Comparatively few marketers bother experimenting with it, however, as it is difficult to get right and the videos can be expensive to create.

A ‘viral’ video is often seen as the holy grail of SMM, and content of this type has driven massive sales for some canny retailers and brands. IKEA has been particularly successful in this area, developing a series of somewhat risqué adverts, and then posting them to Youtube described as ‘banned’ commercials.

As a retail business owner you obviously need to stick to a careful budget, and some of the ideas and examples provided here may therefore be beyond your abilities. But they should help to underline the basic concepts of social media marketing. If you are prepared to listen to your customers, and you understand that the social media sphere does not work like any other marketing medium, you are on the right track.

Finally, it is important to remember that SMM is unlikely to be a panacea for your business. Do not throw all of your eggs in one basket by neglecting other marketing activities. Instead, think about ways that you can leverage a mix of media and marketing techniques to help get your message across.

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4 social media marketing disasters

Social media is becoming an increasingly important marketing tool for firms of every size. As the world moves online and an increasing proportion of business takes place digitally, your firm needs to ensure that it is utilising tools like social media to their full potential.

As our recent article on social media successes demonstrated, a well thought-out digital campaign can yield impressive results. But a large number of businesses have found themselves in the middle of a digital disaster after botched social media marketing campaigns.

There are numerous reasons for this; a lack of understanding of the ‘rules’ of social media is one of the most common. The nature of social networking and other similar media means that these poorly executed campaigns can be far more damaging than an offline mistake.
Many businesses are still getting to grips with social media. Here are some of the most notable disasters of recent times.

Honda learns about disclosure

When launching a new product, the Crosstour, Honda decided to give fans a sneak preview of the design by posting photographs on their Facebook page. The fans were sadly unimpressed, and the page was soon covered with a slew of negative comments.

One loudly proclaimed how much he loved the new design, saying he “would get this car in a heartbeat.” It did not take fans long to realise that this love voice of positivity was, in fact, Honda’s product manager.

Customer engagement is good, and Honda could have benefited from addressing the comments head on. But by resorting to deception, the company quickly attracted the ire of fans.

Habitat gets caught spamming

Furniture retailers Habitat were an early adopter of Twitter. But, in an effort to drum up a bit of interest in their products, they found themselves on the wrong side of spamming rules.

To try to increase their exposure, a Habitat marketing employee began appending ads to ‘trending topics’ in the hope that they would appear when users searched for popular keywords. But Twitter users (a force to be reckoned with at the best of times) saw this as spam and reported it to moderators. Habitat ended up having to issue an apology.

Twitter provides a great way for firms to communicate directly with their customer base. But it is vital that you learn the rules of the platform in order to avoid making embarrassing mistakes.

Employees fall like Domino’s

Last year, two employees filmed themselves flouting hygiene rules in an American branch of Domino’s Pizza. They then decided that it would be a good idea to upload the video to Youtube. It quickly became a phenomenon; the video was viewed thousands of times, Domino’s suffered enormous financial losses, and the employees were arrested.

While this was not an error on the part of Domino’s marketing department, it perfectly illustrates the potentially destructive power of social media. As well as engaging with customers on these services, you should monitor them for mentions of your brand in order to nip disasters like these in the bud.

Rentokil are nowhere to be found

Pest control firm Rentokil recently launched a Twitter profile, and began sparking up conversation with other users. Soon after, though, the firm published a press release with which members of the scientific community took issue. One prominent British user repeatedly asked Rentokil for clarification – but silence soon descended on their Twitter page. Of course, their silence was eyed with suspicion across the Twittersphere.

It is inevitable that you will sometimes face difficult questions from other social media users. The worst thing you can do is ignore them. Instead, you should tackle them head on in an amicable, professional manner.

And a happy ending

Of course, while some hapless firms flounder in a social media quagmire, others deftly use the technology to their advantage.

Phone company O2 is a case in point. They employ several staff solely to monitor social networks for users experiencing problems with O2 products or services. They respond quickly to these individuals, using the same method. Finally, they often follow up at a later date to ensure that the problem has been solved. Customers therefore have their issues resolved quickly, and end up with a positive impression of O2’s service.

Social media has immense power – but this can be a power for good or ill, depending on your point of view. If you are to harness its potential in order to create positive results for your business, you should try to learn from the mistakes of others. Learn the rules before you play, and treat other users with respect. This will help you to guarantee social media success.

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10 Social Media Marketing Tips for Business Owners

As business owners venture in to the scary world of managing their own Social Media campaigns, many are driving blind. A little bit of education goes a long way and we suggest following these 10 Social Media Marketing Tips for Business Owners to get started. There are endless ways to drive traffic to a website, increase brand awareness around the web, and engage with potential clients through Social Media Marketing. The ability to reach people in real time and target a relevant audience has never been easier.


10. Serve the community

Don’t always be looking to serve yourself and your business, provide your following with something that helps them that may not necessarily help you. Becoming a resource is the greatest step you can take to becoming trusted within your community. Spend time researching the other areas that your target market are interested in and provide helpful links and information.

9. Pass traffic to your website

From everywhere possible! Your main social Media Marketing goal should be passing traffic to your website. Remember that your own website is still your greatest sales tool. It has all your information and has the ability to keep people interested. Link from all YouTube videos, Flickr photos, business profiles, and anywhere else you can possibly imagine.

8. Use tools

There are a ton of third party tools for Social Networking websites, use them. They will help you stay organized and save time. Some of my favorites are:

  • ReFollow for Twitter
  • Flickr Uploadr
  • StumbleUpon Toolbar

7. Find niche networks within your industry

There are Social Networks popping up everywhere. Many are specifically targeted to a particular niche. Find Social Networks within your niche and use them. The traffic may not be as high as Facebook and Twitter, but you can easily become a leader within smaller Networks.

6. Write, write, write

Set up a blog. Write until you can’t write anymore. Hire a writer. Do something, anything to keep your content fresh and your readers interested. Don’t just write for your blog, submit articles to sites like Squidoo, Associated Content, InfoBarrel, and HubPages.

5. Promote everywhere

Once you have finished writing, promote it everywhere. Pass traffic through all of your Social Networking accounts, submit your articles to Digg, Reddit, Mixx, etc. Promote everything you do on every single avenue possible. You never know which site could make your article a hit. Whether you get a ton of Retweets, hit the front page of Digg, or get lot’s of Stumbles… if you’re writing something of value, it will catch on somewhere.

4. Learn from your community

Use the people in your community as you wish them to use you. Learn from them. Whether you’re at the top end of your community or just started your business you can learn something from anyone. Research like minded people and businesses to always stay on top of your game.

3. Provide something of value

What do you offer that other don’t? If you don’t know the answer to that question you better find something fast. You can provide Twitter only specials, discounts to Facebook Fans, the next xx people to retweet get something free.

2. Interact with your audience

Spend time talking to people in your community. Reply to Tweets, comment on Facebook posts, engage your audience from your own posts. Host polls, reply to the comments on your blog. If you disagree, be polite. Do not come off as arrogant or as a know-it-all. Be respectful and always answer in a timely fashion when contacted. Word of mouth is still a great way to drum up business, being prompt and a resource can get your respect and respect gets you referrals.

1. Be everywhere

I recently heard someone say “Oh no, I don’t have Facebook, I just used LinkedIn”. While LinkedIn appears to working very well for this person, why cut yourself off from any potential source of clientele? Find and use every single option available, some work better than others within certain industries, but all can provide the option to interact with potential customers and give the option to refer people to your website.

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YouView box ‘reports choices back to company’


A new TV service launched by Lord Sugar that allows viewers to catch up on television shows will allow broadcasters and their commercial partners to know what they are watching and when, it has been reported.

YouView is a catch-up service for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. An internet connection from the YouView set-top box tracks choices and reports data back to the company, according to a newspaper.

It is similar information to that collected online by Google and YouView will use it to build up a profile of each customer.

The company’s boxes are to go on sale with major retailers later this year and will also be offered by internet service providers as part of phone and broadband packages.

Managers hope the boxes, priced at £300 with no further television subscription, will become as popular in British living rooms as Sky.

According to the Independent, prospective viewers may not be aware that the technology will report back on each channel being viewed, including changes of channel and each time a recording starts or stops.

A user profile may contain information such as the type of box being used, when the customer first used YouView, his or her internet address, which programmes have been watched, and preferences such as sports, news or cookery programmes.

YouView publishes its data in a click-through link at the bottom of its website.

It told the Independent that data from each box would be anonymised and “only relates to the device and is mainly technical in nature”, adding: “YouView doesn’t sell advertising so it doesn’t use data for behaviourally-targeted advertising.”

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Dead Tone Android app review


£1.50 per month; Android The mobile phone has become the device of choice for the modern bully – what begins in the playground can now follow the victim home and prove even more painful because it can be more ongoing, personal and permanent.

Indeed, according to the charity Beatbullying, in a survey of over 1,500 primary school pupils, 21 per cent had been “deliberately targeted, threatened or humiliated by an individual or group” using technology.

While bullying took place on social media sites, games consoles and chat rooms, the most common form of cyberbullying reported was by text message. This reflected the fact that the majority of bullying the children reported began offline, often at school, and was then continued online or by phone.

It’s that continuation by phone that this app can help to combat – it’s a spin on voicemail apps such as Hullomail which can present a bespoke greeting to specific callers by recognising the number. Dead Tone, meanwhile, presents an out-of-service tone so callers believe the phone has been cut off. While its anti-bullying purposes are obvious, it can of course also be used to discourage any other unwanted callers.

The app’s based on Ring Tagz, technology that lets users hear bespoke ringtones, and is also a helpful way to encourage parents to monitor and talk to their children about mobile phone use. For those untroubled by bullies, Dead Tone can also be used for humorous purposes, and then followed up with an automated text messages informing callers that the number they’ve dialled is not dead – merely that the user didn’t want to talk to them.

For £1.50 a month, users can set up as many Dead Tones as they like, but hopefully won’t need many.

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