Using Facebook to Get Your Small Business in Gear

Along with my parents and sister, I help manage Westwood Cycle, a family business that my grandpa started in Port Coquitlam, B.C. way back in 1932.

Since that time, we’ve added three more Lower Mainland locations in Port Moody, Maple Ridge and Burnaby, and all are thriving thanks to the strong community of cyclists we’ve engaged on Facebook.

Before I even began working at the family business full-time, I opened up a Facebook account for my parents in 2010 and still manage the account to this day. Since I often wonder what my parents would do without me, I wanted to share my six tips for using Facebook to grow your business:

1. Build a lifestyle around what you’re selling.

You don’t want to mention prices or sales in your posts. Instead, focus on building a community. For example, we created our Westwood Cycling Club to help inspire cycling beginners and old pros to get out and ride. We’ll often share fun group shots of cyclists enjoying themselves or post links to great community charitable initiatives such as Wheel to Heal. We’re using Facebook to sell a lifestyle, not a product.  

2. Sound natural.

If possible, find someone at your business or in your family who’s a natural on social media. People can smell advertising a mile away, so you don’t want your post to sound like a sales pitch. While some businesses schedule their posts in advance, I prefer to post in the moment because it often comes across as more natural/ less forced.  

3. Take a targeted approach.

When I started advertising on Facebook a year ago, I was astonished by the level of customization. If I’m running a sale on women’s bikes, I can now target a post at women specifically so I don’t have to worry about annoying male customers.  And it’s not just targeting by demographics and location. I can direct posts at people with specific hobbies. For instance, targeting an “outdoor cycling” post at someone who enjoys spinning, or targeting runners and swimmers with content about triathlons.  

4. Use Facebook as a customer service tool.

You want people to feel their opinion matters. If someone leaves a question or complaint on your page, respond immediately. I always make sure to reply on Facebook so other customers see that we’re dealing with the issue promptly.

5. Tie your spend to real business objectives.

Instead of advertising smaller items such as bike locks, grips and bells that won’t really generate a big return on investment, I use Facebook to show off things that I feel will really resonate with customers.  For example, last fall I posted a shot of myself in a cool, new reflective jacket that our store had just got in.

Not only did we boost sales and pick up 150 new Likes, a stranger actually recognized me in the bar later that night

6. Experiment and fine tune.

Facebook has Audience Insights tools that can help businesses discover their target audience and measure their success. Try buying a few different ads and then compare their success rates to find out what does and doesn’t work for your specific business. Because you can pretty much start advertising for the cost of cup of coffee, you can see if people start responding before adding more ad dollars.

Unlike print or radio, Facebook advertising delivers measurable results you can see right away—which is always nice when trying to justify a spend to my parents.