Love it or hate it, Facebook is still the number one social media platform with more than 1.2 billion users worldwide. In the U.S., 40% of Americans visit Facebook at least once per day.

For small business owners and entrepreneurs, the trick is finding a way to make Facebook worth their while. Here are a few quick tips:

Don’t be overly promotional. Post things that are interesting and engaging to your particular audience. Bring your smart phone to community events and activities, and share information about causes that you support. Photos and videos don’t need to be produced by a professional—they just need to be authentic. Include material that educates your audience, with an occasional promotional post in-between.

Keep things positive and fun. Facebook isn’t the place to take a stand on hot-button issues that may alienate your customers and prospects. Besides, research shows that provocative Facebook posts don’t do anything to change other peoples’ minds—they simply provoke. So keep it fun. Show people who you are, what kind of personality your business has, and how you are different from competitors.

Don’t make it all about you. The time you spend trying to write the ‘perfect’ Facebook post can usually be better spent visiting the pages of customers, prospects and supporters. This gives you insight into what they consider important and allows you to engage with their content with your own likes, shares, and comments.

Allocate money for advertising. There are no more free ‘likes’ on Facebook. Without spending money on advertising, only 1% of your potential audience will see your posts. On the bright side, you don’t have to spend much to see results (e.g., to promote a post to 500 people who’ve already ‘liked’ your page it will cost you approximately 0.02 per ‘like,’ or $10 total, to make sure that people see it).

For more tips, watch the following video that I created for Grange Insurance Association and its network of independent insurance agents:

Can Facebook be an effective marketing tool for your small business? It can be. But it’s important to remember that it’s not a tool that you own. Facebook can (and does) change its rules without notice. Make sure that you are creating, saving, and sharing proprietary content using other platforms like your own website, blog, e-newsletter, etc.

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