As if you didn't already know, Facebook is a highly advanced (and potentially lucrative) advertising platform.  The targeting options are insane, and the prices are phenomenally cheap.

But without a solid strategy, small businesses will fail to drive traffic to their website, garner back-links, and ultimately improve their bottom line.

By now you should realize that it is the number one social media site in the world, and it does a whole lot more than allow us to talk with our friends and family, share photos, and talk about trending events. Facebook can be a massive source of traffic to your website – which will help generate sales, engagement, and even build trust with your audience.  Below are five great ways to take advantage of the Facebook platform for your business.

1. Capitalize on Existing Traffic

So, digital marketing is all about generating new leads, right? Not always. There is a great deal of value in growing an audience of users that are already aware of your business’s existence. Any organization’s website is essentially their hub and online storefront for their product or service. Instead of focusing purely on new leads (which is arguably important), website administrators need to leverage their influence on existing traffic to reach new visitors.

Enter retargeting ads.  These ads work in a unique way - they target people that have visited your website and 'retarget' them with ads related to your business.  Typically this is some sort of lead magnet offer that gets them to come back and engage with your brand.  These ads are cheap and can leads to some great leads that might have otherwise been missed.

(By the way, if you haven't already set up your retargeting pixel for Facebook, you need to do that now. Even if you aren't going to be doing ads for a few months, this will start to build that audience so that when you're ready to advertise, it's already there for you.)

Also, let your current traffic become cheerleaders & evangelists to your cause, sharing your message with their social media peers. It may sound inconsequential, but adding social media buttons to your website will increase its share-ability…and hence, the amount of people who are exposed to your business.

I've even seen cases of people judging the validity of a website by the existence of social media usage.  "If they're updating Facebook regularly, they're probably legit."  I've heard this exact statement from focus group members when asked whether or not they'd trust an online store they hadn't heard of or been exposed to previously.

2. Use Email as a Way to Increase Exposure

Do you have a direct-marketing email subscriber list? If not, you should. But that is just the first step to effective social media marketing. Website administrators should always include a link back to their website within their signature, even if they don’t have a list. It just makes sense to send a link to every email contact you communicate with that would send them to your Facebook page.

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And the best part is it isn’t spammy or obtrusive – as long as you put it in the footer of your email. Make sure you don’t begin every email with links to Facebook posts or your businesses Facebook page. That’s a sure fire way to make people angry. But over time, adding links in your email footer is a way to increase your Facebook following, and the bottom line is that every little bit helps.

3. Promote Your Online Presence in Your Physical Store

If your business has a brick & mortar location, you need to let foot traffic know that you’re online. For example, it’s incredibly easy for restaurants, cafes, and boutiques to advertise their Facebook page on a chalkboard. The thing about social media is that it is addictive, and you never know the true value of one user. Perhaps a customer, who didn’t know you were online, will see your physical advertisement of your Facebook page and then end up sharing your content with their entire social network.

Remember, Facebook advertising isn’t purely about generating new leads. You want your business to stay in the forefront of people’s minds, and reengaging previous customers that saw a sign detailing your Facebook page in your store is a great way to increase the effectiveness of your strategy.

4. Create Facebook Events and Promotions (but be careful!)

A study in 2013 showed that as much as 35% more users would like or share a page if it entered them in a contest to win freebies. And think about it, people love getting things for free, but they usually don’t want to go through the hassle of signing tedious forms. Facebook has made the process easier than ever before. And you don’t have to go crazy, either.

While users would love it if you gave something away completely free, it could be as simple as offering a discount on your product or service, a free consultation, or just about anything you can imagine. On the other hand, free gadgets and prizes never hurt, either. Facebook contests don’t need to be overthought, either. Simple things like a photo caption contest can be extremely effective.

But be warned - giving something away can also attract people that just want the giveaway.  They have no interest in your brand, your products or even engaging with your business in any way.  These may not really be the people you want to attract, so understand that putting money towards a contest may inflate your ego, but may hurt your bottom line. (for example, see this post about the lottery frenzy from early 2016)

5. Take Advantage of the “@” Symbol

In Facebook, the “@ symbol is a way to tag individual users or groups. And guess what? It’s a great way to directly interact with your audience. It will help empower fans, generate engagement, and make them feel like they are important. Try to use this symbol to foster gratitude and enthusiasm to build up trust, loyalty, and relationships.

Final Thoughts

These are just 5 simple ways that small businesses can take advantage of Facebook. Though everyone who markets their business on Facebook should already be taking these steps, you’d be surprised how many people fail to do so. However, if you don’t have the time to market yourself on social media, you may want to consider reaching out to a professional. Online marketing is a full time job, and a professional will be able to save you time, increase the effectiveness of your marketing strategy, and ultimately help increase your revenue.

About 

Will Hanke owns Saint Louis' top independent Internet Marketing firm, Red Canoe Media. In addition to helping some of St Louis' most recognizable brands with their online marketing strategy, Will also is an Amazon bestselling author, speaker and teacher.