Facebook has been around now for 12 years. Think about that for a moment. It has proven itself not to be just another flash-in-the-pan idea, and neither did it sink from view like other fledgling social media sites that started around the same time. So how come many small businesses in the UK are still ignoring Facebook, and social media in general?

For about a decade now a lot of savvy small businesses and entrepreneurs have been asking people on Facebook to ‘like’ them or their business. It is after all a great way to get some free publicity. Business owners soon grew to learn that their whole marketing strategy had to change though because traditional sales approaches quickly left Facebook visitors cold – hence the rise of social media marketing, an approach that would have made no sense at all to sales and marketing managers of old.

[bctt tweet=”50 million small businesses now have a dedicated page on Facebook”]

Facebook is catering for Business

Picking up on the rising popularity among the business world for using Facebook, in 2012, the company developed their paid advertising feature that allowed for businesses to put their posts directly into news feeds. According to recent figures, 50 million small businesses now have a dedicated page on Facebook, and three million of those businesses are paid advertisers. This shows a remarkable 50% increase in paid advertisers in the last year alone. Maybe they know something that you don’t?

Social media allows small businesses to do a lot about raising their awareness for free, and this is a great advantage for a small business or sole trader with very limited advertising funds. However, SMEs are now paying to advertise on Facebook and other social media sites because it is usually much cheaper than more traditional forms of advertising, and you can reach the exact demographic you need to target that would be interested in your business. So no more wasted revenue going on blanket advertising where a majority of recipients would have no interest in your products or services.

[bctt tweet=”Facebook offers the small business owner a cost-effective way to reach people”]

Local and national

Even something as localised as a bricks and mortar bakers shop are actively pulling in customers from the wider neighbourhood because they have a Facebook page. Having a page to display your cakes and pies as well as telling people about special offers and discount days can greatly raise your profile.

People can be quite habit forming, so if you open a bakery that is tucked away on a back street or in a quiet corner of a shopping centre, many people will be oblivious of your existence because you are in a place they don’t normally visit. They could walk down the same street every day to work and back, and not even be aware that your bakery is just around the corner. But if your shop pops up on their Facebook news feed as a place in your local area, they are more likely to pop in for a lunch-time special of a cup of tea and a sausage roll for £1.50, and they may not be able to resist taking a cream cake back to the office for later.

Facebook is all about connecting people, and originally it was a purely social driven enterprise. However, Mark Zuckerberg was quick to pick up on the fact that people also wanted to find out about the best restaurants in their local area, where people could go for a day out rally driving, hot-air ballooning, to hire a boat or learn to ride a horse. It became their mission not only to connect people to each other all over the world, but to connect people with small businesses in their own area.

Cost-effective advertising

Facebook offers the small business owner a cost-effective way to reach people, not only through their PC, laptop or tablet, but also through their smart phones too. Facebook have said that they have connected more than 1 billion people across the world to at least one small business in their area. They have also admitted that small business advertising accounts for the vast majority of the paid advertisers on there, and as a result have made it easy for small businesses to boost individual posts as well as to promote their whole page. Post boosts are a low-cost and effective way to expand the reach of one post that might detail a one-off sale or a short-term discount offer. The cost will depend on how many people you want to reach, so it can vary in price, but your post will be seen by a targeted audience that would fit your customer demographic.

You can set up your own Facebook business page for free, and control your advertising budget by either promoting your whole business page to raise awareness and gain more ‘likes’, or you can promote individual posts to your page if they offer some value to your customers, such as a flash sale, or a discount code.

Manta, a small business directory, recently conducted a survey and found that Facebook is by far the top social network used by small businesses and delivers the most value for money. When you think about it, 50 million small businesses wouldn’t be on Facebook if it wasn’t worth their time and effort. Facebook has become the place not only to build a good social media presence, but also to help to grow their business and to raise awareness amongst people at a local level too.

Isn’t it about time that you took advantage of what Facebook has to offer your business?