By all indications, the feeling is mutual. Year after year, Facebook has made its platform more and more local-business-friendly. That includes 2018, when the company announced a number of updates that were designed to make the network more useful to local businesses and local users alike.
With these changes, local business owners now have a range of new ways to engage with their local market on Facebook.
Call Your Followers to Action
Facebook first introduced Call to Action buttons for Pages back in 2014. Since then, they’ve been refining this feature to make it more dynamic and effective for brands.
Local businesses have seen significant gains through these changes. Facebook’s original Call to Action buttons were rather simplistic, offering limited functionality. Over the past five years, these buttons have become more prominent on Pages with customized actions for different types of businesses.
Thanks to these upgrades, your customers can now easily place a pick-up order at your coffee shop, book a room at your hotel, or buy tickets for a concert at your event space. Setting up a Call to Action button is a relatively small investment, but it can pay off with major dividends.
Tell a Story About Your Brand
When asked where the platform is headed over the next few years, Facebook’s leaders have repeatedly cited Facebook Stories. Inspired by a similar feature on Snapchat, Facebook Stories have gained traffic in every quarter since Q1 of 2016, with traffic coming from an increasingly diverse array of sources.
Stories allow you to connect with customers in creative new ways, leveraging the power of video-based storytelling. This makes Stories perfectly suited to local businesses, as it gives them a chance to showcase their human side and develop personal connections with customers. Plus, you can pair your Stories with promotional content that incentivizes users to interact with your content.
Here are a few great examples of how this can be done:
- Does one of your employees have a birthday coming up? Film your staff surprising their coworker with a special birthday present, then offer customers a one-day discount if they reply with a #HappyBirthday hashtag.
- Have a custom sign with daily or weekly specials? Post a Facebook Story each time you re-write the sign and reveal a secret detail that you’ve hidden in the signage. Customers who identify the detail get an extra 5% off their purchase.
- Taking part in a charitable event? Record a promotional video encouraging your customers to join you and your staff at the event, and pledge a donation on your business’s behalf for every customer who shows up to take part.
Earn Rave Recommendations
For the past several years, Facebook Reviews have played a major role in reputation management. But as of August 2018, Facebook Reviews became a thing of the past. In their place, Facebook has switched to Recommendations. Rather than a 1- to 5-star rating, they will simply be asked whether or not they recommend your business, and if so, which things they recommend your business for.
One of the cool features of Facebook Recommendations is that Facebook shows users their friends’ recommendations first. If a user’s friend recommends your business, it will appear in their Newsfeed. If the user visits your business’s Page, they will see Recommendations from their friends first.
This feature can help your business earn trust from local customers. After all, people trust suggestions from friends much more than suggestions from strangers. It also allows you to earn Recommendations from new customers. Some people don’t feel motivated to write reviews for strangers. But if it’s framed as a personal recommendation to their friends, they’ll be excited to share the things they love with the people they love.
Become a Local Mainstay
Another recent change to Facebook is the platform’s new Local section. Facebook is hoping to become a kind of community hub for local news and events, showcasing these in a dedicated section of the Newsfeed. Facebook has also created a dedicated Facebook Local app, incorporating features from competitors like Yelp and Google Maps.
These changes come with new opportunities for brands to earn local visibility on Facebook. Thanks to the increased focus on local content, brick-and-mortar stores can earn increased Newsfeed mentions by running special events.
Meanwhile, local businesses will want to take a strong look at Facebook Local and the role that it plays in their digital marketing efforts. Many experts believe that Facebook Local will edge out its competitors, leading to further consolidation in the digital marketing field. That could prove useful to local businesses. Instead of spreading themselves thin, local businesses can focus on two or three major platforms, leading to more cohesive and effective campaigns.