Want to learn how to grow your small business with Facebook? Welcome to Part 2 of an amazing tutorial series.

To start from the beginning so you don’t miss anything (which I highly recommend), here’s Part 1.

Advertising is one of the biggest challenges faced by small businesses in Africa. Placing adverts in newspapers, magazines, TV and radio can be very expensive, especially for small businesses.

So, are there any cheap but effective advertising options available to small businesses?

This article looks at how small businesses can use the amazing power of social networks (such as Facebook) to reach more potential customers than they ever dreamed of.

In Part 1 of this tutorial, we helped Janet, a young woman talented in making bead jewellery, to set up her business on Facebook.

In this second part of the tutorial, we shall explore the cheap, simple but very effective opportunities on Facebook to showcase her business to the world.

If you’re having problems attracting customers to buy your products or services, this article would help you a lot.


How Facebook makes money…

Facebook was such a beautiful thing when I first used it in 2007.

It still is.

Since my first encounter with the social network, I just couldn’t understand why such a wonderful product was available to everybody for free. ‘Didn’t the owners like money?’ I thought to myself.

Last week, Facebook celebrated its tenth anniversary. It now has over 1.3 billion registered users. This is equal to the population of China, and the total of Roman Catholic faithfuls in the world. Facebook has grown into a multi-billion dollar company and its 29-year old founder (Mark Zukerberg) is now worth more than $25 billion (as at February 2014).

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I must admit that I had been ignorant for a long time about how Facebook makes money.

So, how exactly does Facebook make all this money?

You don’t need to look too far to find the answer. It’s simple: Information!

Facebook has one of the largest databases of precious consumer information in the world.

The success of any form of advertising strongly depends on the information you can gather about your target customers (their likes, tastes and preferences) and Facebook has a lot of it!

Facebook makes money from your information!

When I opened my Facebook account, just like millions of people around the world, I gladly volunteered a lot of my private information: location, gender, date of birth, email, home address, phone number, political opinions, likes and dislikes and so on.

I also (happily) surrendered a lot of information about my social network by connecting with people I knew on the website: family members, old school buddies, office colleagues, neighbours and acquaintances.

Like many of us, I didn’t know what Facebook would do with all this information. I also didn’t know that it could make money from it.

Today, Facebook knows more about us than we know of ourselves. It knows the favourite topics we follow on the internet. It knows the kinds of music we like. It knows our hobbies, interests, tastes and soft spots.

After years of tracking our online behaviour and gathering information about us, Facebook can predict the things we will like and won’t like. As a result of its goldmine of raw consumer information, both big and small companies are using Facebook to sell their products and services by targeting people who will be interested in them.

In addition to our personal information (which we happily volunteered), social networks like Facebook build a ‘profile’ of all their users.

Let me take a minute to explain what a profile is:

While we browse the internet everyday, we leave footprints behind. One of the ways that we do this is by using Facebook buttons (see picture below) to Like, Share or Recommend stuff to our Facebook friends.

For example, let’s say you read an interesting article on Smallstarter about ‘ostrich farming’ and decided to Like or Share it via Facebook. Facebook will profile you as a person who is interested in things like ‘ostrich farming’, ‘farming’ and ‘ostriches.’

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By knowing exactly the things and topics that interests each person, Facebook can specifically target people who will be interested in specific topics. This concept is commonly known as targeted advertising.

In 2012, Facebook made over $5 billion in revenue and a significant portion of this amount came from targeted advertising. With all the information that Facebok has acquired about its users, especially our likes and dislikes, it is able to provide advertisers with the capablility to target specific types of customers that will like their products and services.

Before I show you how to use Facebook to target customers who will be interested in your products or services, I should take a minute to explain the concept of targeted advertising and how it works.

How targeted advertising works…

Every day, we are exposed to adverts in newspapers and magazines. We listen to advertising jingles on the radio and watch commercials on television.

These types of adverts are like casting fishing nets into a wide ocean and hoping to catch something. Sometimes, you may catch something but it’s not always the best use of your advertising time, effort and money. How can you be sure that the people who read, heard or watched the adverts will be interested in the product?

Imagine that you had a way to know the part of the ocean where all the fishes would be. Every fisherman on earth would want to have that information. And that’s the kind of targeted information that Facebook provides to advertisers who use its vast network.

When you advertise on Facebook, it allows you to target potential customers based on their profile of interests and likes.

You can target your audience by age, gender, location (town, city or country), relationship status (single or married) and interests (the things they like). You even get to choose the times of day you want your target audience to see your adverts.

Compared to other forms of advertising such as TV, radio, newspapers and magazines, Facebook allows advertisers to promote their products and services to the right audience who will be more likely to be influenced by the adverts.

How to advertise your business, products and services on Facebook

It’s practice time!

Remember in Part 1 of this article, we helped Janet set up a Facebook Page for her handmade jewelry business.

Just in case you missed it, a Facebook Page is like a webpage that allows you to publise your business and display your products and services to the world. Unlike a physical shop, a Facebook Page gives you the opportunity to reach out to more people. It never closes for business like a physical shop and it’s available to people across the world 24/7!

Let’s get started!

Step 1: Go to your Facebook Page. If you don’t have one yet, read Part 1 of this tutorial and follow the simple steps to create your own Page. It’s fast and easy and should take less than five minutes to complete. Janet’s Facebook Page is titled Janet’s Jewels and it still has her lovely smile on it.

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Step 2: At the top right corner of your Page, click on ‘Promote Page’ to start the process. As soon as you do this, a new form will pop up in the centre of your screen.

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Step 3: On this pop-up form (see the snapshot below), you have to provide information about the type of customers you want to attract.

You can select the country or countries you want your adverts to be shown. You can also select other interesting criteria for your target audience such as their Age (minimum and maximum) and Gender (male, female or both).

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The most interesting criterion on this form is the ‘People who have expressed in’ field. This is where you provide the topics, terms and words that your target audience is interested in.

Since Janet plans to sell bead jewelry, she has selected the following interests: Jewelry, Bead, Beauty, Clothing and Fashion accessory. All of these are words that relate very closely to the product she wants to advertise.

Advertising on Facebook allows you to specify your Daily budget. This is the maximum amount of money you are willing to spend on a single day to get people to like your Page. The best part is, you can see immediately the likely number of Likes you will get for the budget you specify.

Janet has decided on a daily budget of $10 and this amount will get her between 32 and 126 Facebook Likes every day.

You can also specify a schedule for your adverts. You can choose to run your adverts continuously or specify a deadline. Whichever you choose depends on your preference and the total budget amount you want to spend on adverts.

When you have provided all the information required on the form, click ‘Promote Page’ to proceed to the next step.

Step 4: This is the final step of the advert process where you choose your mode of payment. Payment can be made by Credit/Debit Card or Paypal.

In many African countries, debit cards may be the only option. Many of these cards are provided by Visa and Mastercard through the local banks. If you don’t have such a card, visit your bank to find out how to get one. A debit card is the same as an ATM card!

The good thing about advertising with Facebook is that the money you pay is taken after, and not before, your adverts start to yield results.

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Step 5: Your ad is ready. Facebook ads usually appear to the right side of the page. When your target customers see the ads and click them, they’ll land on your Page.

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Step 6: Monitor your stats! Facebook provides a very detailed reporting tool that allows you to track and monitor how well your adverts are doing. It shows you how many people saw your adverts (Campaign reach), the cost for each advert and the number of people who liked your page (Results).

With this information, you can know exactly how well (or not) your budget is being spent. If it goes well, you may decide to extend the duration of the adverts to gain more Likes and followers.

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Now you know how to grow your small business with Facebook. What’s next?

Having spent just over $100, Janet has gained over 3,000 Likes on her Facebook Page.

She now has a large audience who are interested in her products. All she has to do is upload nice photos of every new bead jewelry she makes and write something catchy about it. Whenever she posts a picture of a new bead necklace, all the people who liked her page will see her new post in their newsfeed.

People who like the necklace will share the post with their friends on Facebook and this will help to further advertise her products. Some interested people may write comments about her new necklace, some of which will likely include questions about the price.

This is how Janet will end up selling some of her handiwork to people who saw it on Facebook and liked it.

Without a physical shop, Janet can sell her bead jewelry from the comfort of her house to customers far away. This is indeed a cheap and creative way for small businesses to publicize and expose their products and services in order to attract more potential customers.

Like I wrote in Part 1 of this article, social networking is the wave of the future. It has now become a super and advanced version of word-of-mouth advertising. You never know, somebody may buy one of Janet’s bead jewelry and love it.

People who love your product will share the ‘good news’ with their friends on popular social networking sites like Facebook. They’ll take pictures of themselves wearing or using your product and share the details about the things they like about it.

This rich and raw information provides you with instant feedback to know the things you’re doing right (or wrong).

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To your success!