By now, most business owners have been exposed to the many reasons why being on Facebook is a good idea.
From the vast reach of its audience to the number of tools Facebook offers businesses to help build relationships and communicate with the people who matter most — there’s a reason why 90 million small businesses are on Facebook today.
But along with all of these well-known reasons for being on Facebook, there are some benefits that still go unnoticed.
And one of the most commonly overlooked benefits is one that can provide an answer to a marketing dilemma that most small businesses are all too familiar with: how to get found by your next great customer.
Even though Facebook has been thought of as strictly a communication platform, today it is one of the most effective tools for helping consumers find the answers they’re looking for.
Here are just a few examples of how having a Facebook Page can help you get discovered:
Word-of-mouth recommendations have always played an important role in helping small businesses reach new customers. But today, peer referrals and recommendations aren’t just happening through one-on-one personal interactions, they are happening online, in a social forum, where multiple people can give their feedback and share recommendations. For businesses that have an active Facebook Page with an engaged fan base, this form of word-of-mouth is a huge advantage and the perfect opportunity to reach your next great customer.
One increasingly common way that people discover businesses on Facebook is through the daily interactions that are already happening on your page.
Each time someone likes, comments, or shares a post, their friends will see it. When they check-in or share a photo at your place of business, these interactions will also show up in their friends’ news feeds.
These simple interactions, which may seem small when they happen, are actually helping to amplify your message. They also put your business in front of people who likely have similar interests as the people already shopping at your store or visiting your place of business.
Personalized social search
In addition to personal recommendations, Facebook also offers a number of search features to help consumers find answers to their questions right on the social network.
One of these features is Facebook Graph Search. Similar to a search engine like Google or Bing, Graph Search lets you search by using relevant keywords, but also gives users the chance to access more personalized results.
For example, if someone wants to find a restaurant that their friends have visited in a particular city but don’t necessarily want to publicly ask for a recommendation, they can use the search “restaurants in Phoenix that my friends visited.” They will then be shown a list of restaurants that their Facebook friends visited and checked into. Or, if they just want to find a list of restaurants in that area, they could simply search “Restaurants in Phoenix,” and every restaurant with an active Facebook Page will show up.
By maintaining an active Facebook Page where people are sharing reviews, checking in, and engaging on a regular basis, you’ll give yourself more opportunities to be discovered through Facebook Graph Search and will also have the chance to make a meaningful first impression on your next great customer.
Along with Graph Search, Facebook also offers unique search tools for mobile that let users discover new businesses right in their area.
Facebook Nearby is a local search and discovery feature in its iOS and Android Facebook Mobile apps. “Nearby” allows users to search for specific places, browse business categories, or see what’s around them on a map, and it’s organized by their friends’ recommendations, check-ins, and other social cues.
Within Nearby, users can access a business Facebook Page and can even get directions right on their mobile device.
With over half of all Facebook Page views now happening on mobile, Facebook Nearby is just one of the ways that Facebook users are finding new pages on their mobile device.
Not all of the traffic that comes to your Facebook Page will happen within Facebook. In fact, for a large number of people searching for your business online, search engines like Google or Bing will be the place they go first.
In most cases, your business’s website will be the page that shows up as the top result. But right under your website you will also see your social media channels with Facebook showing up as one of the top results.
By having an active Facebook Page, you’ll give your customers an incredibly valuable entry point into your business. There they’ll find up-to-date information that may not be available on your website and can also learn more about your business through the content you share and the interactions you have with other people on your page.
When it comes to your Facebook Page, thinking about how people are finding you and what you can do to leverage that activity will help you reach new customers and do more business in the years ahead.
Start by making sure the information that’s available on your page is accurate and up to date. Then, take the time to search for your business within Facebook and on search engines like Google or Bing. This will give you a better sense of what people are seeing when they search for your business and will help you identify places where there is room for improvement.
Editior’s Note: Originally published in 2014, this article has been updated for accuracy and relevance.