5 Facebook Tips and Tricks for Small Businesses Looking to Get Ahead

It’s a dog eat dog world out there, and no one knows this better than small business owners. Competition among businesses is fierce, and finding ways to get ahead can be challenging.

In terms of ways to get ahead, Facebook may be one of the best utilities available for small business entrepreneurs. As the most complete marketing tool at your disposal, savvy use of the platform can serve to set you apart from your competitors; to get you to be a veritable Usain Bolt’s length ahead of others in your industry.

While setting up a complete Facebook profile and ensuring you update your followers regularly are non-negotiables for pretty much every modern-day business, here are a few less obvious tips and tricks that may help you to stand out from the crowd.

Be ultra-responsive

Your response time is shown for all to see on your business’s Facebook page. What’s more, there’s mounting evidence that your response time is a key part of Facebook’s algorithms, and affects your visibility on the platform. There’s simply no excuse for a bad score.

A slow response score will make potential customers hesitant in contacting your brand, meaning lost business. Ensure that your page is linked to a mobile phone in order to respond as quickly as possible to any communication.

Convey your brand’s personality

If your business sounds exactly like all of your competitors’ businesses, why wouldn’t anyone choose you? It’s vital that you settle on a brand personality, and convey it to your followers. Are you cheeky? Informative? Debonair? Are you ultra-professional, or more personal? Do you have a specific aesthetic?

These questions can only be answered by looking at your ideal customer, and identifying exactly what they like and dislike. Once you’ve settled on your brand, stick to your personality whenever you’re active on the platform.

Add a call to action

Facebook offers the option to add a call to action to your page, but it is surprising how few businesses actually use this feature. There is a range of options that are offered in the bottom right-hand corner of your cover photo, all of which make your business contactable by anyone in one quick click! It is a great way to redirect people to your website and boost your traffic numbers.

Save your audience

Another underused Facebook feature, Saved Audiences is a function within Facebook Business Manager which enables any business owner to advertise their products or services to a very specific audience.

Saved Audiences are entirely free to set up, so it won’t cost you a cent to have a play around with different demographic information to find your perfect niche. Once you’ve identified the type of person you want to target, you can invest a small amount – just a few dollars – to advertise to them, and test the effectiveness of your campaign. Minor tweaks and alterations are easy to make, allowing you to create the most effective and efficient campaigns possible through trial and error.

Put a focus on video

Here’s a fun stat – video on Facebook accounted for just 0.9% of posts in 2016, but 7.15% of total reach on the platform. They are some crazy numbers which serve to show exactly how effective video can be.

What does this mean for you and your small business? It means that you best be comfortable with moving images. Videos are the quickest and most entertaining way to convey information to your audience. They’ll autoplay for most people who scroll past them, meaning a focus needs to be put on producing an impactful first few seconds.

Facebook is also investing a lot of resources in promoting its Facebook Live feature, so don’t be shy in turning on that front-facing camera and giving followers an insight into your operation, as the potential reach is fantastic.

While not a particularly large investment in monetary terms, a focus on Facebook does require a decent investment of time. But for those who fully commit, the payoff will ultimately make it more than worthwhile.

How to Craft the Perfect Social Media Posts

What makes a great social media post? Is it one that attracts thousands of likes? Is it one that goes viral? Is it one that generates a stack of new followers for you?

Yes and no.

Of course, a post which attracts thousands of likes goes viral, or gets tons of people to start following you is undeniably a successful post. But, in terms of online marketing, it might not be that great.

A cat video or a funny meme about Game of Thrones might get the likes and the follows, but will it help your business in the long run? Probably not.

A perfect social media post for your business is one which generates awareness of your company or your product, drives sales, strengthens your branding, and/or engages your audience.

If you’re thinking about how to craft the perfect social media post for your business social media accounts, there are a few questions you can ask yourself to guide you in the right direction.

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What do I want to achieve from this post?

As mentioned before – the power of social media in business marketing is multi-faceted. A post which drives sales might be different from a post which fosters community and allegiance to your brand.

Think about what you want to achieve from the post. Are you running a promotion which you want to make your followers aware of? If so, your post might be simple, bold, and straightforward – “limited offer for our Instagram followers! Head to the website now!”

On the other hand, if your post is intended to be branding-focused, you are better off avoiding the direct sales pitch. Instead, you should post something which aligns with your branding and interests your followers.

This is something which demonstrates what your company is about, shows some personality, and gives followers something to feel an affinity with. This should be completely un-salesy.

Keeping firmly in mind what the post is intended to achieve will make sure you craft a post which hits the mark and is successful.

What does my audience like?

Your audience may be foodies who appreciate a well-presented dish. They may be gym-junkies who love fitness related posts. Always think about your audience when you’re crafting your social media posts. It’s their likes, follows, comments, and shares which you’re looking for, so you need to tailor your material to them.

This is where it’s important to use analytics and metrics so that you know the cold, hard facts about what your audience engage with. If you’re just starting out on the social media marketing train and you don’t have enough information yet from your own metrics, look at what your competitors post. See what works for them. Use this to inform your own posts.

Always think about who you are targeting with your posts. It shouldn’t be difficult, especially if you personally fit the mould of your target audience. You can simply ask yourself “would I like this post?”

Does this fit my branding?

Each individual social media post should fit your branding strategy. Overall your social media platforms should be cohesive and give any viewer an overall sense of your brand and your company.

It’s how people know what to expect and choose to align themselves with your business.

Keeping your branding strategy in mind is essential for crafting a perfect social media post.

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Is this post right for this platform?

Social media platforms are not created equally, and it’s important to keep the platform in mind when you’re creating posts.

Twitter needs to be short and snappy – not too many words or ideas. Instagram needs to be all about the aesthetically pleasing photo. LinkedIn is more professional. Facebook can be wordier but still needs to capture the elusive attention of scrollers-by.

Keep in mind the two golden rules of the sorts of posts that attract more engagement:

  • Posts which include questions
  • Posts which include photos

Infographics, funny quotes, life-hacks, and inspirational quotes are all shown to be successful on social media, but never use them just for the sake of it. The message has to be clear, the image and the text need to be relevant, and it all has to suit the platform, your audience, your branding, and your intention for the post.

Asking yourself these four questions will have you crafting perfect social media posts every time.

How Social Media Is Changing the Face of the Food Business

Unless you’re Amish, social media has, by now, permeated your life in a wealth of ways. Even if you don’t have a social profile to your name, your loved ones will, and the organisations that you deal with day-to-day most certainly will.

Organisations simply must put a firm focus on social media these days, lest they be left behind. And what with its focus on customer experience and the often transient nature of its clientele, one of the sectors most affected by the rise of social media is the food industry. While many of these changes aren’t immediately obvious, for those restaurateurs and cafe managers who seek to get ahead in the digital age it’s imperative that these changes are recognised and acted upon.

So what do these changes look like? Let’s take a peek at three of the most major.

Bad experiences come back to bite

There was a time when restaurateurs could get away with the odd bad meal. The patron would be a little miffed, some words might be exchanged, and you’d be down a possible return customer. If the customer wanted to broadcast their feelings they could do so to their friends and family, take a full page advert out in a local newspaper, or jump on a street corner and start shouting.

How things have changed. Social media has allowed every diner to become as important a food critic as those who are paid to do so. Sites like Yelp allow people to air their grievances for all the world to see, directly affecting a restaurateurs profit margins. While this system can be cause for serious concern for restaurant owners – “they couldn’t fit my party of 25 when we arrived unannounced: 1 star” – it’s now an unavoidable part of restaurant life.

According to this study, a 1-star increase in a restaurant’s Yelp rating could result in a 5% to 9% increase in the establishment’s revenue. As such, taking customers’ concerns seriously, responding to their queries and focusing on their experience are all non-negotiables in this day and age.

Greater control of your restaurant’s destiny

While the make-or-break world of online review sites may be seen as a negative development by many restaurateurs, the next major change can be seen as nothing but a positive. Thanks to the likes of Google and Facebook you can now get your restaurant in front of the most relevant eyes at an almost ridiculous price.

The fact is that online marketing is far more effective and efficient than traditional advertising methods. Facebook allows you to hyper-target your ads, aiming for an incredibly specific type of person through the use of advanced demographic filters. You then receive highly detailed engagement numbers back to see how your advertisement performed. And you get all this for mere dollars.

Put simply, social media marketing offers you far greater control of your restaurant’s destiny. And those restaurants who choose to use it are quickly separating themselves from those who choose not to.

A focus on flair and creativity

Ten years ago, a night out at a restaurant would go something like this:

  • Sit down
  • Order your meal
  • Eat your meal
  • Pay your bill

God, that seems old-fashioned! These days it’s a little more like this:

  • Sit down
  • Check your phone
  • Order your meal
  • Take a photo of your meal for Instagram
  • Eat your meal
  • See where your like count is at
  • Pay your bill

Savvy restaurateurs know that they are in a business seemingly built for social media. People love food, people love taking photos of food, and for some hard to understand the reason people seem to enjoy looking at photos of food that they can’t eat. This has resulted in a focus on creativity in social media-minded kitchens. ‘Plating up’ a meal worthy of Instagram, with a taste to match, is the sign of a top tier restaurant in many people’s minds.

There’s no doubt that the last decade has been one of great change in the business of food. And there’s no sign of the rate of change slowing. To stay ahead of the pack, restaurateurs need to be pragmatic, adventurous, and social.

Top 5 Social Media Sites for Bars, Cafés and Restaurants

Everyone eats. As far as truth bombs go that’s not exactly nuclear, but it does provide the impetus for many to get into the hospitality game. Unfortunately, this very thought train is one that’s boarded by quite a few people, making hospitality one of the most competitive industries around. So how do you effectively rise above the noise?

The answer in this digital day and age lies in social media. Social media is more than just a place where the hedonistic masses pout into nightclub cameras and new mothers create showreels of their newborn’s bodily functions. As a restaurateur, a café owner or a bar manager it’s imperative that you see social platforms as vehicles to get your establishment’s message out there.

So at which social sites should you be aiming your affections? Here are the five that you’d be a certified dunce to be missing out on.

Facebook

These days a bar, café or restaurant without a Facebook page is like a car without a motor. You’ll be Fred Flinstoning your business around with your bare feet. With almost 2 billion active monthly users, Facebook is the must-use marketing tool of the 21st century.

For an absolute pittance – mere dollars – you can reach the eyes of thousands of potential customers, carefully selected by choosing key identifiers such as location, age and interests. Unless your establishment’s business model is centred around feeding and watering the aged care home demographic, Facebook should be your primary social focus.

Instagram

What’s more Instagram-worthy than your glorious food and drink? Nothing. Apart from maybe a sunset or a hilarious cat. The minimalist social network can be a surprisingly effective marketing tool for those in the hospitality game, with #foodporn featuring heavily on the feeds of most users.

Why do people like looking at food they can’t eat and cocktails they can’t drink? Your guess will be as good as or better than mine. But facts are facts, and said facts can be used to your advantage. Spend an afternoon with your chef or barista and create some Instagram gold, hashtag your posts strongly, and watch that follower count grow.

Twitter

The ultimate broadcast platform, Twitter allows hospitality types to shout out into the ether and see who shouts back. The self-imposed limitations of Twitter serve to ensure that you create snappy, punchy posts which capture the interest of potential patrons. It’s the perfect platform to publicise specials and to announce events.

Extend your reach with the careful use of the tag function – mentioning a big brand or a local celeb could result in an ultra-valuable retweet that could put your business in front of the eyes of thousands.

Snapchat

Snapchat is one of the most important social platforms for bars, cafés and restaurants? Really? You’d best believe it. Particularly for those businesses who are aiming at a younger demographic. Snap, as it has recently been renamed, is the fastest growing social network for those under 30 by some distance. These cool young cats have been slowly moving away from the foreverness of Facebook to the disposability of the filter-heavy platform, and smart business owners are following suit.

Give your followers a behind-the-scenes look at your business, or show off the flair and creativity of your more talented staff.

Yelp

The online review giant may not be what you picture when you close your eyes and think of social media, but it certainly should be. With people becoming more and more reliant on the internet to tell them where to eat, the Yelp community has made or broken many a restaurant over the years. Devoting a little time to completing your business’s profile and to responding to customers’ concerns can make a huge difference to your rating, and can help you claim that coveted top spot in the rankings.

More than pouted lips and burping babies, the potential of social media borders on limitless. And it’s a marketing tool that will reward those who jump on it sooner rather than later. If you want your business to get ahead, it’s time to put your nose to the social grindstone.

6 Success Stories of User Generated Content At Its Best

User-generated content (UGC) is fairly self-explanatory. It’s any content – tweets, photos, videos, vines, blogs, posts, etc. – created by users of an online platform. In this day and age of life being lived online and social media ruling the world, UGC can be one of the most powerful marketing tools.

User generated content is so powerful because it comes straight from the consumer’s mouth (or fingers, as the case may be), rather than the company’s. When it comes to establishing social proof, it doesn’t get better than UGC. Because people have taken the time and effort to demonstrate their love of a product or brand publicly, that content resonates with viewers.

A study by Crowdtap found that people viewed UGC as 35 percent more memorable and 50 percent more trustworthy. Conversion rates can be up to three times higher when an image from a consumer is included on a web page.

It is no surprise, then, that marketers and advertising teams have been using UGC in their campaigns. Here are some particularly successful and memorable UGC marketing success stories which we can all learn from.

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Art of the Trench, Burberry

Widely credited as one of the first campaigns to launch UGC marketing into the spotlight, Burberry’s Art of the Trench began in 2009 and is still going today. It’s a simple as a website where people post pictures of themselves wearing Burberry’s staple trench coat. Viewers see real, fashionable people wearing (and loving) the product. And, voila! Social proof.

Burberry reported a 50 percent increase in online sales year-over-year following the launch of the site.

#TheSweatLife, Lululemon

Activewear brand Lululemon adopted a similar approach to Burberry but brought it further into the age of social media. They created the hashtag #TheSweatLife and encouraged customers to upload pictures of themselves in yoga poses in their Lululemon clothing.

Not only did this incorporate elements of traditional marketing messages, i.e. “You can do incredible things in this product!”, they established a huge loyal following online, receiving over 7,000 submissions to the gallery and over 40,000 visitors to the site.

Home Try-On, Warby Parker

Warby Parker is a glasses company who created the “home try-on” service. They offer a free service where they ship five pairs of glasses to the customer’s house for five days. The customer is encouraged to upload pictures of each of the styles with the special hashtag #WarbyHomeTryOn.

Not only did the customer receive feedback from their peers about which pair of glasses looked best, Warby Parker received huge new levels of exposure and brand awareness, as well as advertising of their products.

VersaVid, Nissan

Nissan cleverly tapped into the creativity of Internet users by creating the VersaVid competition. To advertise the Versa they offered six $1,000 Amazon vouchers as prizes of the competition, which asked Vine users to print out and assemble a 3D model Versa and film a short video of the little car on an adventure.

Vine was filled with clips of the little cars, thereby increasing awareness of Nissan and their new vehicle. Nissan also received footage for their commercial, cutting down costs and effort for them.

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Real Love, Chobani

Yoghurt brand Chobani saw some incredible success with their Real Love campaign. Launched on Valentine’s Day, Chobani asked their fans to show them some love on social media. Consumers created videos, left messages, posted pictures, and tweeted praise for the brand.

With the tagline “real stories from real Chobani lovers”, the company used all of this for marketing, putting tweets on billboards, posting videos to their website, and re-posting content on their social media pages. The authenticity of the praise for Chobani really hit the mark with consumers, proven by a 225 percent increase in sales from the previous year.

Share A Coke, Coca-Cola

There’d be very few people in the world who don’t remember Coca Cola’s Share A Coke campaign. What started as an Australian campaign in 2011 was soon launched globally. Names were printed on product labels so that consumers felt like they had a “personalized” bottle of Coke.

Coca-Cola coupled this offline campaign with an online one, which encouraged customers to post pictures online of themselves with their Coke. This boosted Coca Cola’s top-of-mind awareness astronomically and is also credited with a two percent US sales increase.

5 Simple Tips and Tricks from Top Restaurants on Social Media

If you want to improve your cross-court backhand, there’s no finer specimen to study than Roger Federer. If you’re hoping to strike it big in the investment game, you could do far worse than read some of Warren Buffet’s stuff. Likewise for restaurateurs who are looking to capitalise on this heady new world of social media, garnering lessons from those who have led the charge is as good a strategy for improving their own performance as any.

Here’s how five social media pioneers went about their pioneering.

Crowd-sourcing content on Instagram

User generated content is expected to explode on social media over the next few years – if it hasn’t already – and Taco Bell has shown exactly how effective it can be on the Instagram platform. Having changed their slogan from ‘Think outside the bun’ to “Live más” (‘más’ being Spanish for ‘more’), they challenged their followers to post a photo of themselves living the más-est, accompanied by the #LiveMasContest hashtag and conveniently placed Taco Bell product.

The finest entrants were showcased to Taco Bell’s 1 million+ Instagram followers, and featured a unicycle, a sleeping baby and acrobatics, unfortunately in separate posts.

Drop a food truck pin on Facebook

The food truck life is a transient one; at the beach on Wednesday, in the city on Thursday and at the back of some festival ground on Friday. As SoCal-based Seabirds Food Truck began to gather a loyal following they found that this inherent transience represented missed opportunity – unless their fans called the food truck or checked up in advance, they wouldn’t know where to go for their next delicious Seabirds meal. Thus, the food truck began to pop up a simple Facebook post to indicate where they’d be that particular day, allowing their devotees to follow them to the ends of the earth if they so chose.

Using Twitter to announce open tables

Mario Batali, the rock star Italian chef behind Babbo Ristorante, is one restaurateur who isn’t particularly short on clientele. But despite the fact that his restaurant is more-often-than-not booked out, Mario knows that a table empty is a table wasted. To counter the lost profit of late cancellations, Babbo takes to Twitter most nights to announce that a table has opened up for a specific timeslot. This ensures that the restaurant – and subsequently the restaurant’s tills – are always at capacity.

Snapchatting behind-the-scenes content

With a marketing budget the size of Everest, it’s little surprise that McDonald’s often leads the charge when it comes to exploring new marketing opportunities. But while their dollars might be ample, their efforts still offer a great template from which any restaurateur can work. One such example is their use of Snapchat, now simply known as Snap.

When the platform was first exploding in 2014 McDonald’s used it to show some behind the scenes footage of a new commercial featuring LeBron James. The Snaps were a huge success and helped to firm the relevance of both McDonald’s and Snapchat. While you might not have the wallet to get LeBron, offering a behind the scenes look at your establishment can get potential patrons both excited and invested.

YouTubing insightful instructionals

You’re a restaurant. Creating deliciousness is your profession. And while selling that deliciousness on to paying customers will obviously help the hip pocket, giving that deliciousness away for free could be even more helpful in the long term. Jamie Oliver provides a sterling example of this – on his YouTube channel, he happily shows you how to cook a variety of the exact meals that he serves in his restaurants, and also provides a variety of quick kitchen tips to help any home cook feel Michelin star-worthy.

This sort of philanthropy might seem a little counter-intuitive to many restaurateurs, but it will allow you to form a bond with your audience, subsequently getting them rolling through your door more often.

Social media needn’t be a confusing minefield of technology and strategy. The simplest solutions are so often the best, as these restaurants have so eloquently shown. While putting these lessons into practice will require willpower on your end, the manpower needed can be surprisingly minor.

The 6 Most Effective Social Media Marketing Sites for Restaurants

The restaurant game is one industry still dominated by small players. There’s something about visiting a cute, homely, family-run establishment that gets foodies everywhere excited.

As a restaurateur, it’s important to understand how modern-day diners are finding your restaurant. Overwhelmingly diners now look to the internet to get advice on where to dine. More specifically, they look at social sites – sites which allow anyone to rate and review an establishment, and publish ratings based on the reviews compiled.

So which sites should you be focusing on when it comes to your restaurant’s reputation? Here are six of the most important.

1. Yelp

The biggest restaurant review site in the US is now making a name for itself in Australia. Success on Yelp is more reliant on the work that you put into the site than many are willing to admit. As a restaurateur, you’ll be charged with creating and managing your profile, and a complete profile is imperative if you want to come up as an answer to a search query. Over and above your profile efforts, your restaurant’s position will be based on the amount of reviews, the ratings of those reviews, paid promotion and key category attributes.

2. Facebook

In this day and age if your business doesn’t have a Facebook page can it really be called a business? Facebook now has almost 2 billion monthly users, including overwhelming percentages of the developed world. You simply can’t ignore it as a marketing tool. Check out our 10 easy steps to improving your Facebook engagement for a detailed guide to squeezing the FB lemon dry.

3. Zomato

Founded in 2010, this Indian start-up has made waves in many parts of the world, including Australia. Using the same basic system as Yelp, Zomato also enables its users to order take away and make a reservation, as well as review the meal afterwards.

4. TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor is a one-stop shop for travellers looking to check out the sights, the sounds and the tastes of a new area. You want your restaurant to be the first on any famished foreigner’s lips, so spending the hours to add contact details and completely fill out your listing is time well spent. It’s also wise to address any concerns that arise within reviews – just be sure to do so in a calm and respectful manner.

5. Google

Just as every self-respecting business will now have a Facebook page, so too will it have a Google listing. This will allow your restaurant to be easily picked up by Google in response to a location-based search query. Google now offers a rating out of 5 for your establishment within the search result, so now everyone who searches restaurants in your area will get a sense of your quality at a glance, making it vital that you spend time massaging your online image.

6. Instagram

While the ultra-minimalism of Instagram may not sing ‘marketing opportunity’ to you, if you know a few tricks of the trade you can make a great impact with minimum effort. Anyone who has scanned through a few photos will tell you that Instagram is an absolute minefield of food pics, so as a restaurateur you’re better placed than most to capitalise on the ravenous hordes of the platform. Getting a sense of the habits of successful Instagram brands is a great place to start.

A successful modern day restaurant requires a commitment of time to digital marketing; to sculpting the reputation of your establishment online. But rather than this being a full-time job, if you focus your efforts on the few sites listed above you’ll have a relatively complete handle on the standing of your restaurant on the World Wide Web.