I strongly agree with James. Not wise to use a personal facebook page as your business page. For a lot of reasons. But probably the biggest reason is that it's a total violation of FB rules. And when they catch you, they shut down the page. Now all those "friends" you worked to acquire - all the people you were engaged with - are all gone. And they aren't nice about letting you get the page back to see who they were either. You start from scratch and they ignore your requests for help. Best to just play by the rules. You might think that I had this happen to me. Nope. Just read about someone it happened to when I started my business page.
I was always resistant to FB for the longest time as well. I don't FB personally. I think it's a total waste of time. If I wanted to keep in touch with old high school friends, people I worked with a decade ago, or long lost family members, I already would be. I don't need FB for that. But I finally realized that just because I found FB to be pretty senseless, there was a pretty huge % of the country who disagreed with me. Millions and millions of Americans use it every day, throughout the day. And it didn't make sense for our business to ignore that fact. So I finally jumped in like a year and a half ago.
First challenge is getting fans. That's been a whole lot harder than I ever figured it would be. I just figured all of our hundreds of customers would just automatically "like" our page, once they realized we had one. Nope. Most of them didn't. So I had to come up with really creative incentives to get our clients to become fans of our page. Then, after I got as many of our existing clients to be fans, my next goal was to get more regular homeowners from my area to be fans. You see, having huge numbers of fans only really counts for anything if the fans are local people who might one day be in the market for what you are selling. If you get 500 fans but 480 of them aren't in your area, then it's just fluff. I know this one showboat landscaper
in my town who has over 20,000 fans on his company facebook page. But if you ever take a look at who his fans are, they're all people from different parts of the world. Just look at the "recommendations" section over to the right of the page. It's all people from other countries. This is because in his quest to make his FB page look really popular, he went to sites like Fiverr
and purchased a whole ton of fans. Problem is, 99% of these people are not from his area. So his page looks
really active. But it's all a big show. 99% of his fans aren't people who live in this area and will never buy his products or services. So he's just spinning his wheels in an attempt to look like a big shot. This is an example of what NOT to do on your Facebook page.
The real goal is to get as many local fans as you can. People that either ARE customers or are interested in becoming customers. Then the second goal is to keep them engaged.
You can get new fans like James did - just word of mouth. But that's really slow. You won't grow your fan base really fast that way. I've got a few little things I do that help drive a few new fans to our FB page here and there too. But the main thing that has increased our local fan base is Facebook Ads. You can actually place little ads on Facebook for fairly cheaply - compared to like Google AdWords. So every few months I let our ad run for a few weeks. Every time I do, I pick up 5-10 new fans per week. And the great thing about it is I get to set the parameters on who sees my ad. So I purposely chose people who are between 30-60, people who live in the areas I service, people who are homeowners, etc. You get to set the parameters for like a dozen different demographic choices. This allows you to make sure that your ad is only seen by people that would be your ideal client. It costs money. But it's a really effective way to pick up clients. I have noticed that after about 2 weeks, the number of new fans starts to go way down. Probably just got saturated with my ad. So I wait a month or two and run it again. Then I usually get a whole new crop of likes. This has helped a lot.
As far as have I seen results? Well, the good news is I don't really have to spend a whole ton of time on Facebook. I like to post something new (usually photos of a recent job) once or twice a week. But the reality is I'm usually far to busy to do it that often. So I sometimes just spend 10 or 20 minutes a week or less. Post a few photos, make a comment, get some likes, keep people engaged. But as far as results, it's been marginal.
We did actually get to do a design for a large project and the client totally found us on Facebook. Unfortunately, he hasn't ever hired us since we provided him with the design and proposal. I drove by later and it appeared that he never hired anyone. So who knows. Maybe he'll call next year. But otherwise, the real benefit I've seen from it is in two ways. First, I've noticed that a lot more of my clients seem to be more engaged with our company. Checking up on us more regularly. When I talk to repeat clients I often hear them comment about how they love seeing all the photos we post on Facebook. So it sort of keeps them in the loop more regularly and I think it sort of makes them feel like their part of our cheering squad. The second thing is I get a lot of our clients who had no idea we did certain things. I get comments like, "Hey. I've been watching your posts on facebook for a while. Holy cow! You guys do some really nice work! Whole outdoor living areas?? Paver Patios??? Night Lighting???? I never knew you guys were good at that! We've been really impressed with your work." And whenever I hear that I'm thinking, "Well, where have you been? We've been doing that kind of work for years. You never went to our website???" Apparently not. It's interesting that people who never really checked us out too much before are now finding out we do all sorts of stuff they never knew we did - just from seeing our Facebook posts. And we do get work from that too. Specifically, more lighting work. I always try to post lighting jobs on there when we do them. And that always leads to more requests for lighting, even if the call was for a paver patio. They'll say, "Oh. And I don't know if we can afford it. But we've been seeing photos of the lighting work you guys do. So in addition to the bid for the patio, can you also give us an idea of how much it would cost to get a nice outdoor lighting system installed in the back yard too?" And a lot of the time we end up doing the lighting as well.
So it helps. I wouldn't say that FB is a big % of leads by any means. If you're counting on FB to be a big source of new calls - you'll probably be disappointed. It won't be. Put your time and money and energy into figuring out how to make a great website and get it to be on page one of Google. That's where you get new calls from. I'd say Facebook is more a tool that just helps us keep our clients and potential clients engaged - so that they don't forget us. And also keeps them informed about what services we offer. A little better than our website does. Because I can make the best website in the world but my website doesn't reach out and post messages on people's FB pages. So they typically have no idea when I've changed something on the website. But on our company FB page, that's like a dynamic, always changing, website that keeps people informed all the time. It's almost better than a website in some ways. Website's good for new customers who are looking for you on the internet. Facebook is better for existing clients who you just want to stay engaged with.
Well, I've written a book again. Sorry for that. Our facebook page is here if anyone cares to look at it; http://www.facebook.com/LewisLandscape