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The 5 cardinal rules of using Facebook for small businesses

Lift your Facebook stats and get the most out of the social media giant with these 5 no-fail rules for using Facebook for small businesses.

You’re rummaging through your Facebook business page and see that your engagement numbers are less than ideal. 

Not only do you have a low number of likes and clicks, but you could use some help growing your Facebook audience.

Don’t worry -- it doesn’t mean your small business stats are a complete bust. 

Sure, there are likely thousands of Facebook tactics you can implement to turn your insights report around, but you’re an entrepreneur with limited time and resources. We get it. 

Just because you’re a small business doesn’t mean you can’t compete with the big star-studded brands, though -- you can.

To keep you on top of your social media game and to give your small business a serious boost, we’ve got five foundational Facebook rules for you to follow today. 

Let’s get straight to it.

#1. Optimize your Facebook page

Our first Facebook rule today is to optimize your business’ Facebook page, which you can do in a few straightforward steps. 

The first of which is to take advantage of your cover image space and be sure to feature an image that represents your business in a compelling way. More specifically, follow our recommended branding tips and publish a cover image that’s consistent with your brand. 

For instance, you can include your logo in your profile photo and a tagline in your cover image, just like Zendesk does with their “be the company your customers want you to be” tagline.  

Or include copy that explains your unique value proposition (UVP), which immediately explains to visitors the distinguished way you solve their problems. 

Leadpages is an example of a brand that does this well by clearly addressing their audience’s need for more clients and the way they solve it for them directly in the copy on their cover photo.

From there, include a call-to-action (CTA) to entice visitors to engage, which you can do by clicking the “create call-to-action” button on your cover photo and select from a variety of button options like book with you, contact you, learn more about you, shop with you, and et cetera.

Then, you simply type in the destination URL, if applicable, and hit “finish”.

Check out how American Airlines uses its Facebook cover photo space to display a simple branded image coupled with “book now” CTA button.

Very clean and cohesive. 

Better yet, use video in this space, just like business and motivation guru Tony Robbins does. 

With an impressive 79% of consumers preferring to watch videos over reading about a product, it’s worth the effort if you can manage to produce a video that’s 30 seconds to five minutes long.  

As far as dimensions go, Facebook recommends making a cover video (or image) that’s 1200 x 628 pixels in size, which is about a 2:1 ratio.  

Another useful step to optimize your Facebook business page is to strategically pin a post to the top of your page, which you can do by simply clicking on the three dots at the top right-hand corner of your post and selecting “pin to top of page”.

This is also something Tony Robbins nails. He pinned a recent video post about practicing gratitude that received over 1,000 likes, more than 40,000 views, and nearly 500 shares within one day of publishing the post.

Not bad for a pinned video, right?  

There’s another optimizing tactic you can take on -- target your audience. 

Facebook allows you to optimize your audience by setting up your “preferred audience” for your page. You can do this by adding interest tags that help prioritize your page posts in relevant user news feeds.

You can also limit who can see your posts by setting the age, gender, location, and language fields in your “audience restrictions”.

Beyond that, be sure to also implement these Facebook SEO optimization tactics:

  • Include on your “About Us” page important benefits, keywords, and your UVP, which convey to your audience what problem your business solves for people.

  • Claim your vanity URL by branding your Facebook page link to reflect your business name. 

In sum: 

Optimize your Facebook business page by featuring an exemplary cover image or video, pinning an important post, targeting your audience, and taking care of a few SEO housekeeping details. 

Phew -- once you’ve done that, you’re optimized and ready to boost your engagement, which is the focal point of our next (much simpler) Facebook rule today.

#2. Create a Facebook Group

Our second rule for using Facebook as a small business is to create a Facebook Group

Why? With over 10 million Facebook groups created and about 1.4 billion people using them, Facebook groups present a big opportunity to engage with your audience in a more meaningful way.

Take successful entrepreneur, Tiffany Williams, for example. She created her Rich Girl Collective Facebook group to engage with her audience of female entrepreneurs, which has grown to over 36,000 highly involved members in a span of about three short years.

Facebook groups are an excellent environment for engaging your members in conversations on relevant topics. You can ask questions as a conversation starter. 

Or follow in the footsteps of Ahrefs’ founder, Tim Soulo, and publish fun and personal content like his Ahrefs Insider Facebook Group post sharing a selfie of his work environment, which spurred over 184 like-minded entrepreneurs to post their own office selfies across the globe. 

What’s more, members can help each other solve relevant issues or share wins like in this post by an Ahrefs Insider Facebook Group member who boosted his organic traffic by over 900% in six months through SEO optimization.

As you can see, Facebook Groups are great for building a community around your topic of expertise. The best part is, you get to host the conversations and present your brand as the leader in your space.

Ready to give it a whirl? 

Great. To create a Facebook Group, follow these straightforward steps:

  1. Head to the “groups” button in the left column of your Facebook platform

  2. Click “create group” in the upper right-hand side

  3. Select your group settings, including your group name and privacy settings

  4. Upload a cover photo (following our tips above)

  5. Edit your settings and add a description, type, location, and tags

And just like that, you’re up and running. 

Of course, it goes without saying that creating a Facebook group isn’t enough. You need to invite people to join your group and promote it to the right audience.

You can start by inviting fans of your Facebook business page to join your Facebook group by using the “invite members” field in the right-hand column of your group page. 

Then, use your email marketing tools to ask your subscribers to join your new group in a sequence of email messages.

However, while this second Facebook rule requires fewer steps to set up than our first rule of optimizing your page, it does need more maintenance -- which is where our third rule comes in. You need to plan out what content to post.

#3: Plan out your Facebook content

Our third Facebook rule today for small businesses is to strategically plan out your social media editorial calendar. This goes for both your Facebook business page and the content published to your Facebook group. 

We recommend focusing on posting content that’s primarily educational, like in this Mirasee post that lays out eight steps for generating winning product ideas for your online business.

The reason for prioritizing educational content is it provides value to your audience, making them 131% more likely to buy from you after reading an educational piece of content. So, it’s worth curating and creating social posts that teach your followers something.

If you’re looking for a ratio for content types, use the founder of MeetEdgar, Laura Roeder’s, recommended posting ratio of 30% promotion and 70% content, which she follows when she uses social media to sell digital products

As far as posting frequency, aim for an average of once per day, which is the sweet spot for posting on Facebook. It doesn’t have to be all-new content, either. Try curating other people’s relevant content or resharing a post every other day to keep up with the demand. 

Don’t post more frequently than that, though, because you’ll creep into “annoying” territory. If you’re a small business with fewer than 10,000 followers, posting more than once a day could result in a 60% drop in your clicks.

(Note that this advice is specific to Facebook -- if you’re posting a ton more on Twitter, that’s not just OK, it’s recommended.)

Try using different content formats, too, because you never know which types of content will resonate with your audience. 

For instance, a graphic illustration may work better for an infographic brand like Venngage.

While video posts do exceptionally well for renowned life coach, Marie Forleo

The key is to test out various format types and content to find out what your audience prefers.

Finally, let your personality shine. 

An overwhelming 83% of consumers prefer to see your brand’s personality on Facebook as opposed to any other social channel, so feel free to express your brand’s uniqueness on this platform.

You can follow in the footsteps of Buffy, a sleep brand that owns its unique personality and proudly displays it on Facebook, like in this post.


Be strategic about your posting calendar by educating your audience, publishing 70% content and 30% promotional posts, posting once a day, using a variety of content formats, and expressing your brand’s personality.

By doing so, you’ll boost your engagement with your audience, which is our next cardinal rule -- to actively engage.

#4: Actively engage with your Facebook audience

Another must-follow rule for managing your business’ Facebook account is to actively engage with your audience.

At the most basic level, engage in conversations with your audience by replying to comments and using direct messaging. Respond to as many replies as possible and do it in a timely manner -- particularly if it’s a customer inquiry or complaint.

Why? It can make or break a sale.

78% of customers purchase from the first one who responds, so if you’ve got an incoming question, you’ll want to jump on it. 

When it comes to complaints, social media is simply becoming the preferred channel for voicing them. 

In fact, 54% of customers prefer voicing their concerns through social channels over email or phone, so it’s worth your effort to proactively manage any issues published to your Facebook pages. 

What’s more, if you answer a complaint, you’ll increase your customer advocacy by as much as 25%, which makes your complaints on Facebook worth the extra attention.

If you’re looking for a streamlined way to manage your incoming social messages, try using a social media management tool that comes with a “social inbox”. CoSchedule is a solid choice.

Its social inbox feature alerts you anytime you receive an incoming Facebook message.

In case you’re shopping around, other tools that include the feature are Agorapulse, eClincher, and MavSocial.

(Speaking of streamlining, if you want to further simplify your small business, be sure to test out an all-in-one platform for your website. This free 14-day trial is all you need to check it out).

If you’re willing and able, a powerful way to engage with your audience is to leverage Facebook Live videos. 

Need a nudge to get out of your comfort zone and host Facebook Live videos? 

You’ll find the numbers motivating. Facebook Lives are so powerful, they produce six times as many interactions and 10 times more comments when compared to standard videos.

Check out how successful entrepreneur and marketer, Amy Porterfield, hosted a Facebook Live video about how to ask better questions that attracted over 17,000 views and more than 300 likes. 

So, it’s definitely worth following suit.

The main takeaway is to actively engage with your Facebook audience by responding to inquiries and complaints with urgency and leveraging Facebook Live videos.

#5: Carve out some budget for Facebook ads

Our final Facebook rule is to save some of your budget to promote Facebook ads. 

The reason is, these days, you need to pay to play. 

Unfortunately, organic reach on Facebook has been rapidly declining since 2015 (at least) and plummeted to a mere 1.2% in organic reach last year.

It’s even been projected that organic reach will one day reach zero, so it’s best to be prepared.

While Facebook ads don’t have to carry the bulk of your social media strategy, it’s wise to set aside some ad spend in case you want to give one of your popular posts, exciting offers, or important announcements an extra visibility boost.

What should you focus on when advertising on Facebook? 

Three words: a clear goal.

When you advertise on Facebook -- and social media, in general -- it’s important to have a clear goal and purpose for placing your ads. 

For instance, there’s a big difference between running ads to an awareness campaign and running ads to sell one of your profitable digital products

Wordstream’s ad that features a report download is an example of a campaign with a goal of attracting people in the awareness or consideration phase of their buyer’s journey.

(As a reminder, the buyer’s journey includes the three phases of awareness, consideration, and decision, as they go through a process of purchasing a solution to their problem.)

Whereas this SEMrush ad addresses people further along in their buyer’s journey who are deciding on a solution to their problem by presenting a CTA to sign up for a free trial.

In your Facebook ad manager, you can choose from 11 different objectives when creating your ad campaigns, from brand awareness and traffic to engagement and conversions.

To select the right campaign objective, simply match it to your advertising goal within the three Facebook stages:

  • Awareness - Is your goal to generate interest in your brand and introduce your unique value to brand new users?

  • Consideration - Are you trying to engage with people who are seeking more information about their problems?

  • Conversion - What specific action do you want people to take as you present your offer?

The gist of it is to set a clear goal and be prepared to designate some ad spend on Facebook if you want to give your audience reach some legs.


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Face your Facebook challenges with the force of these five fundamentals

If your Facebook stats aren’t anything to write home about, don’t worry, there’s a way to turn things around.

Follow these five rules to start seeing a change immediately:

  • Rule #1. Set your Facebook pages up the right way by optimizing them. Publish the right branded cover image or video, pin an important post to the top, target your audience, and partake in a few SEO tactics.

  • Rule #2. Leverage the popularity and engagement levels of Facebook Groups by creating one that suits your brand’s goal and inviting targeted folks to join.

  • Rule #3. Strategically plan out your Facebook content by posting educational content, following the 70/30 content-to-promotion ratio, and featuring your brand’s personality. Also, post once daily and test various content formats.

  • Rule #4. Be proactive and engage with your Facebook audience wherever possible. You’ll also want to respond to customer inquiries and complaints with the utmost speed and tap the power of Facebook Live videos.

  • Rule #5. Save some of your budget for Facebook ads. With organic reach on the decline, it’s worth dedicating some ad spend to boost your Facebook exposure while setting clear goals for your ad campaigns. 

If you’ll pardon the pun, we’re sure you’ll “like” the results!

About the author

Cyn Meyer was a content writer for Podia, an all-in-one platform where online courses, digital downloads, and communities scale with their creators. Cyn also enjoys playing music, helping retirees live active, healthy, engaged lifestyles, and hopping into the ocean.