There just doesn’t seem to be any stopping it. For local businesses, Facebook is where it’s at these days. One study shows that almost 45% of U.S. small businesses now have a Facebook page. Even more impressive is this finding: About 7 in 10 small business owners plan to use social media in some way in the next 12 months.
The painful next question that business owners face is this: Now what? Merely having a Facebook page (or blog or Twitter account) does nothing by itself. You have to put it to work by adding “content” (news, announcements, articles, photos, video, etc.) and making things happen.
Here are five steps that can boost engagement and improve your odds of success:
- Post content on high-engagement days. The day that you choose to post content on Facebook matters. It also differs by type of business. In general, Saturday is the worst day, followed by Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. You’d think Mondays would be good, but because everybody else posts on Mondays, the content crush creates more competition and “noise” to break through. When Facebook conducted a study of visitors to Facebook pages, it found that people are happier on Thursdays and Fridays, leading to higher engagement rates on those two days by nearly 20%.
- Follow best Facebook practices for your particular industry. The best times and days to post depend on the type of business you have. For example, most people shop for cars on weekends; and peak customer engagement on Facebook for auto-related businesses is Sunday. In the auto industry, no other day comes close to matching it. But surprisingly, not many auto-related local businesses seem to have caught on to this, according to new research by Buddy Media, which provides social media services to big brands. Best Facebook days for other industries include: Finance (Wed. and Thurs.); fashion (Thurs.); Restaurants and Bars (Tues., Wed.); Health Care and Beauty (Thurs.); Sports (Sun.); Travel (Thurs., Fri.).
- Be aggressive about asking people to “Like” your business on Facebook. According to Buddy Media’s research, the direct approach – come right out and ask for it – works best. Businesses with experience on Facebook find that “Fans” tend to follow directions well. To entice people to post comments, ask questions directly and request a response. In any case, simpler is better.
- Beware of the “business hours” trap. For the most part, Facebook is not a regular business hours phenomenon. Research shows that businesses posting content to Facebook either before or after regular business hours achieve response rates that are 20% or more higher. Your goal is to have your posts appear at the top of Fans’ news feeds when they are most likely to be looking. Services such as HootSuite, TweetDeck and others let you schedule your posts to appear whenever you want. Consider your Fans’ schedules, not your own.
- End with (the right kind of) a question. According to Buddy Media, Facebook posts that end with a question get 15% more responses. So if your goal is to generate engagement, end your posts with a question. But don’t ask “why.” That’s too philosophical. Instead, questions about when, where, would and should are much more likely to succeed in engaging those who visit your page.