Digital Marketing & Communication Tips During the Pandemic for Rural and Small Business

Using Facebook as a Sales Platform for Small Business

As part of our effort to help businesses, causes, and campaigns in rural America we have prepared weekly webinars on topics relating to digital marketing. You can watch our most recent above or read on!

A challenge for any business owner is finding the right platform for your message and getting eyes on your product or service. Whatever your business, one thing is certain: we are all going online first. We want to be where our customers are looking and with many states and localities still under some kind of restriction due to COVID-19, we as a public are going online to interact with businesses before we venture out. That’s why we are going to explore how business can be conducted on Facebook.

Facebook is the biggest social media platform with the highest number of active users in the world. While it might not be everyone’s favorite flavor of social media, it has the power to expose your brand or cause’s message to an online audience in an easily executable way. Nearly 70% of the adult population in the United States has a Facebook profile, 66% of those are in rural areas, and of that group over 75% check that profile multiple times per day. 

Facebook Live
Going live is one of our favorite free ways to get attention from fans. When you go live, fans of your page automatically get a push notification that you are online and can interact with you in real time. Videos normally get the highest form of engagement and with a little planning, these can be an essential part of your social media strategy. 

First, you’ll want to plan your message. If you have a drawing or planned give-a-way this is a great way to do it virtually. Take a minute and make some bullet points to make sure you cover all the topics you have chosen and have any items handy you may want to feature. If you plan on moving around or doing a tour make sure you are using a mobile device with a solid internet connection. Check your lighting and backgrounds to make sure they are free of distractions and go! These should feel spontaneous and fun. They can be viewed later by users so make sure you include details when you set up the live event. 

Ads/Boosting Posts
Getting started with advertising online is as simple as boosting a photo, status share, or event on your Facebook business page. In essence, these are one-time, paid ads that Facebook will share with a wider audience than your fans. You have the ability to determine your audience, budget and timeline. All you need to start is a business page and a credit card to pay for the ads. 

An ad is created in your ad manager account and has more customization and targeting available than a boosted post. These are campaigns, and you can have multiple images, videos or messages all running under a campaign.

A campaign will run for a length of time and is shown to a broader audience that you determine. They can take some time and know-how and should fit into a larger effort to get sales, leads or clicks. You’ll set a spending limit and timeframe, just like a boosted post, and get reports on how it performed. 

Both allow you to see results that give you a picture of how things are working in your ads manager account page. 

Offers and Marketplace
Facebook makes it easy to offer specials directly to your fans as well as feature products and even make sales. Offers are promotions you can create on your Facebook business page for fans and can be anything from free shipping to online discounts in your store. It’s an easy tool to create promotions that increase engagement and give you the option to target e-commerce or in-store purchases. 

In the Facebook Marketplace businesses are able to highlight and sell products to users. In addition to current page fans, you can cross-post items, or post in more than one geographic area. Buyers can communicate with businesses in real time and ask questions or arrange a sale. This is a perfect tool for highlighting in-demand products or services digitally outside your fanbase. Marketplace also allows you to boost these posts for extra exposure.

Facebook Marketplace for business also allows you to work with an approved partner or connector, to sell directly to consumers. These partners work with merchants to expand their sales channels, manage inventory, shipping, and allow you to sell directly to customers as a shop. Many work with other online marketplaces like Amazon or eBay. While this may not be an option for all small businesses if you are looking for a way to jump into the e-commerce marketplace, this is a great way to get started.

Facebook Pixel
Have you ever noticed when you go online and view an item you’ve been dreaming about ordering, somehow that item shows up everywhere you look online and Facebook? This is done through “retargeting” with tools like the Facebook Pixel.

The Pixel is a bit of code that you place on your website that allows you to tie data together with actions taken on your site. It collects data that helps you track conversions from Facebook ads, optimize ads, build targeted audiences for future ads, and retarget to people who have already taken some kind of action on your website. Facebook Pixel is not required to do ads, but recommended if you are trying to convert ads to e-commerce revenue or just want better data. A Facebook Pixel is an excellent way to get started with audiences for Facebook advertising as it can pull data from your website. Businesses can get a pixel on their Facebook business page and input it in their WordPress site via a plugin

Just a reminder
Every company, group, nonprofit, campaign or cause should maintain a few things to have a solid digital marketing strategy. Email marketing, active social media pages, and up-to-date contact information on platforms where your brand is listed like Facebook and Google.