People Discover New Businesses on Facebook More Than Any Other Channel

Facebook has evolved from a social network used for catching up with old school friends and posting photos of your dinner to a powerful marketing and retention tool for businesses. But what companies may not realise is that Facebook is also the number one place where people discover new businesses.

In our recent survey of 1,800 US consumers, 52% percent had discovered new businesses on Facebook in the past year. It came in ahead of Google Reviews (43%) as the channel used by the most consumers, and outpaced traditional media like local newspapers (14%) and magazines (11%).

When it comes to Facebook’s audience, the survey found that 56% of women and 45% of men use the social network. 70% of millennials use Facebook for discovery, which is more than any other group, including xennials (the generation between millennials and Gen X, who rely more on Yelp) and consumers aged fifty-three and older, who are more likely to discover new businesses through local newspapers.

Get your business discovered on Facebook

By now, most companies with a Facebook presence know that the social network is a useful tool for sharing information, posting photos and responding to questions and feedback from existing customers. But you may not have realised how powerful the platform is as a discovery tool (Facebook did know — hence the recommendation feature they launched last year).

With this knowledge, you can adjust your approach to Facebook so that you engage not only your current customers but potential ones. Here are a few tips to start:

  • Be visible in searches.
    Make it easier for people to find your Facebook page by adding a category and description.

  • Don’t hold back on detail.
    Our survey respondents said they’d expect to find customer reviews, contact details and photos on a business’ social profile. If you run a restaurant, they’d also want to see a menu. If you run a salon, give a breakdown of the services and costs. And whatever kind of business you run, don’t forget to add photos.

  • Post original content.
    Because of changes to Facebook’s algorithm, the Newsfeed favours content that a user’s friends and family have actively engaged with — things they’ve reacted to, commented on or shared. So think about posting unique content that will elicit some kind of action from your followers. This will give you the best chance of reaching prospective customers.

  • Encourage others to post about your business.
    You should encourage customers to share their experiences of your business and tag your page in their posts. You can do this through a campaign or a contest, or by making your space photo-worthy — think statement art pieces, beautiful crockery (if you’re a restaurant) or a flashy bar — and encourage people to snap and share away.

  • Respond to comments.
    The actions of friends and family take precedence in the Newsfeed, so if someone comments on your page it’s good to respond in a timely way. Whether in response to something positive or negative, prospective customers will see that you’re attentive and passionate about customer service. Your response can actually help to stem the impact of a negative comment — hugely important to the way you’re perceived.

  • Invest a little money.
    One way to make sure your message reaches the right group of prospective customers is to invest in Facebook ads. You can boost an existing post or create an ad (there are different formats to suit your goals). You can target your audience based on categories like age, location and interests.

Making your business more discoverable online

Of course, Facebook isn’t the only place that people discover businesses. To ensure you’re reaching a wide audience, check these things off your list as well:

  • Update your other social profiles.
    Think about your target audience and their preferred social media platforms — it’s important that you’re active there. If you only have the bandwidth to manage activity on one or two platforms, focus your efforts on those instead of having several accounts that you rarely update.

  • Claim your online review pages.
    Complete your Google and TripAdvisor pages with (at least) the same information as your Facebook page, like address, hours and phone number. You should also include a website link because 54% of people almost always click website links included in review pages.

  • Use photos.
    People love seeing photos. 69% want to see photos of your products or services, whilst 19% want to see photos of your bricks-and-mortar space. Photos help to build familiarity and trust, and they’re great for helping people scope out your business before making a purchase.

  • Tend to your online reviews.
    Once all your pages are set up, make sure you’re monitoring them and responding to reviews. This shows that you’re paying attention to your customers and working with them to right any wrongs. 40% of people read the most recent reviews first, followed by 20% who check the negative ones. Pay close attention to these reviews and quickly engage unhappy customers.In your responses to dissatisfied reviews, express your regret and avoid a defensive approach — the last thing you want to do is make customers angrier, especially in public view. If the review is particularly bad, you might want to get in touch privately and offer a discount or refund.

  • Get a website.
    According to the survey, 85% of customers think that a quality website is important for a business. Gen Zers and millennials in particular hold this view (91%). In terms of what a business should include on its website, 66% of respondents want to see pricing information, 55% want to see a list of the services offered and 37% want to see pictures of the products or services.

  • Invest in SEO.
    Not only do you want your business to be optimised for discovery on Facebook, you want it to rank highly in Google too. This means focusing on search engine optimisation (SEO). Optimising your site includes a range of methods such as using keywords, metadata, link structure and so on. Done correctly, this will improve your ranking in Google search and get more traffic to your site.

Want to see more of the survey results? Download our Retail Playbook: Finding and Winning New Customers.

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