Many of Facebook's 2.9 billion monthly users use the social media platform to engage with brands and discover new products. Shopify’s Commerce Trends 2023 report also notes that 70% of global social media shoppers make purchases on Facebook either sometimes or all of the time.
That gives Facebook the power to drive thousands of sales for your small business.
Therefore, it’s crucial for you to develop a Facebook presence that encourages visitors, both new and repeat, to convert. In this guide, learn how to use Facebook to build brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, and generate sales.
Get started with Facebook marketing
Facebook offers a suite of features to help small businesses build their online presence. Before we get into specific Facebook marketing tactics, set your Facebook marketing strategy up for success by using this starter checklist.
- Create a Facebook business page. This is the business equivalent of a personal Facebook profile. Add your brand name, upload a profile and a cover photo, and optimize your bio before you work on building an audience, whether you have just one or multiple Facebook pages.
- Open a Facebook shop. Selling products online? Sync inventory from your ecommerce website with a Facebook Shop. It’ll give future followers the ability to purchase products without leaving the app.
- Create a Meta Ads Manager account. Even if you don’t plan on advertising just yet, an Ads Manager account grants access to bonus features for marketing your business, including the ability to boost well-performing posts.
- Install the Meta pixel. “The Meta pixel comes in where you want to successfully measure, optimize, and grow audiences for your ad campaigns,” says Liam Quirk, SEO and ecommerce strategy director at Enofaber.
How to create a Facebook marketing strategy
- Understand your target audience
- Diversify your content formats
- Post when your audience is active
- Share influencer or user-generated content and collaborate with other brands
- Encourage reviews
- Get involved with Facebook groups
- Track Facebook insights
- Retarget website visitors
- Run ads with influencer endorsements
- Run A/B tests
- Turn Facebook audiences into email subscribers
Millions of small businesses use Facebook as a marketing tool because it can be a lucrative sales channel. A few hours per week invested into social media management can pay dividends in the long run.
Here’s how to run marketing campaigns on Facebook with little to no budget.
1. Understand your target audience
Social media followers are people who’ve opted in to see your content in their news feed. By building your audience, you’ll have a group of people ready to engage with future content.
Be wary of who you attract. While a Facebook following of 10,000 people might seem like an achievement, it isn’t so great if the people following your page have no interest in the products you sell. This is one culprit behind a poor social media conversion rate.
Before running with a new Facebook marketing strategy, you should have a solid understanding of your target market—the people most likely to purchase your products. List traits they have in common and use them as the foundation for the content you share through the platform. That includes:
- Demographic data (age, gender, location)
- Purchase intent
- Pain points or challenges
- Goals and motivations
Use a combination of customer feedback surveys, Google Analytics, and competitor analysis to find this data.
2. Diversify your content formats
It’s estimated that 1,500 Facebook posts are eligible to appear in a user’s feed each day. Stand out from the competition by diversifying your content strategy through mixing and matching the following formats:
- Video. Post videos directly to your feed, through a livestream or as a Facebook Story. High-quality organic video content is favored by the Facebook algorithm because it increases the time people spend using the app.
- Images. Photos stand out in a text-heavy news feed. Share behind-the-scenes photos, how customers are using your products, or product photography.
- Text-only posts. Some brands see success from posting long-form content to Facebook, though your success with text-only posts depends on your audience. The format works particularly well when storytelling.
Kopari Beauty uses a combination of Facebook Stories, live video, and image feed posts as part of its social media content strategy.
Callum Dooly, managing director at Elite Wine Refrigeration says, “People don’t visit social media sites to read. They come for amusement, to catch up with friends, or simply to pass the time. They’ll scroll over your large pieces of data.
“Go visual to avoid this and increase interaction on your posts. Graphical content should be used instead of text. Create infographics, short videos, memes, and other visual aids to peak your users’ interest.”
Regardless of which content format you begin experimenting with, the most important thing is building a genuine connection with Facebook users using your social media posts.
3. Post when your audience is active
If you’re using Facebook to market your business on social media, you need to post when your target audience is online. Posting at midnight increases the odds of your content being buried once your followers check Facebook in the morning. The Facebook algorithm prioritizes fresh content in a user’s feed.
- Where your followers are. Say you start to schedule a ton of Facebook posts to go out at 9 a.m. each day, but you’re in North America and your audience is in Australia. So if it’s 9 a.m. your time, it’s actually 1 a.m. where they are.
- Whether you’re selling to businesses (B2B) or consumers (B2C). You’ll see a correlation between people’s daily routines and the time they spend on Facebook. Office workers, for example, are likely to use Facebook during their commute and lunch breaks.
To find your optimal posting times, schedule content at different times throughout the week and monitor your Facebook Insights. Eventually, you’ll begin to find windows of high engagement—and periods of time that send your content into a Facebook black hole.
4. Share influencer or user-generated content (UGC) and collaborate with other brands
Marketing is all about influence. Whether you’re persuading your Facebook followers to follow your page or to buy a product you’re promoting, get a helping hand by partnering with influencers. Each generation is influenced by popular social media users—particularly millennials and Gen Z.
Popular ways to collaborate with influencers include:
- Paying for a sponsored post
- Having the influencer “take over” your Facebook page for a day
- Sending free products to the influencer with the hope they’ll share it with followers
But it doesn’t have to be mega-influencers with thousands of followers who contribute toward your Facebook page growth. Leo Livshetz, founder and CEO of UnHide, says, “One Facebook trend that isn’t waning in popularity among ecommerce brands is sharing user-generated content across social media to establish social proof and boost sales.
“Your customers are probably already raving about your brand by sharing photos, videos, and reviews. You can use these pieces of content, with consent, to easily show your target audience that your customers love your products.
“This will likely continue to be a social media trend moving forward, with brands utilizing Facebook Stories, along with TikTok, to showcase their happy customers.”
In addition to collaborating with influencers, consider partnering with other brands in order to increase your reach to new audiences similar to yours.
According to Alex Danco, director of blockchain and systems thinking at Shopify, “The biggest opportunity flying under the radar is collaboration. It’s the best way to increase the number of buyers who know and care about you in a way that turns you into not competitors, but cooperators, perhaps even allies and friends.”
5. Encourage reviews
Ninety-three percent of people look for reviews before buying something online. Testimonials from happy customers, particularly those in a similar position to your target market, go a long way in turning Facebook into a revenue generator for your small business.
Find your Facebook reviews by going to facebook.com/username/reviews. Direct existing customers toward the link through purchase confirmation emails. Incentivize them to leave a review—and become a repeat customer—with a 10% discount code to redeem on their next purchase in exchange for a testimonial.
The Oodie, for example, has over 3,500 reviews on its Facebook page—the majority of which are positive. It goes a long way in proving to new followers debating whether to follow your page (or purchase your products) that it would be a good decision.
6. Get involved with Facebook groups
There’s an online community for almost every hobby you can think of. More than 1.8 billion Facebook users are active in groups at least once a month, from local community forums to groups for pet owners with a specific breed of dog.
Identify the Facebook groups your target market is participating in by surveying existing customers. You can also do a Facebook search for your industry and filter by group.
Once you find them, start engaging with content in the group to build awareness on Facebook. Be wary, though, that some Facebook group admins set strict rules for the community. Double check you’re permitted to share promotional content to avoid getting banned.
To mitigate this (and promote to their heart’s content), some brands have seen success in founding their own Facebook group. Tribe Beauty Box, for example, sells beauty subscription boxes through its ecommerce store. Founder Bili Balogun says she created a Facebook group that got its first 200 members quickly.
Bili says, “I already had an email list, through my website, so I invited people to the group by sending an email to my email list, like, “Hey, we have this amazing group. Please join for behind-the-scenes and exclusive content.”
7. Track Facebook insights
The secret to Facebook marketing success is experimentation. What works for one small business doesn’t work for another. It’s more of an art than a science.
Understand whether your strategy is working by monitoring Facebook Audience Insights. Important metrics to pay attention to include:
- Follower demographics. Assess whether Facebook followers are likely to convert into potential customers by comparing them against your target market. You’ll see the top countries, age ranges, and gender split that forms your Facebook audience.
- Number of unfollows. Your job isn’t over once someone follows your Facebook page. Assess how good you are at retaining them by monitoring your unfollow rate.
- Where follows happened. Discover where people followed your page—either by search or the page itself—and prioritize appearing there more often. This is especially important if you have limited time to focus on Facebook marketing.
- Actions on page. How many people click the call to action (CTA) in your Facebook bio? See whether your organic content is driving people to visit your website, get directions, or call your small business.
- Success by post type. Earlier, we mentioned that varying your content strategy is a good way to start marketing a business on Facebook. Find which formats your audience engages with the most through this report.
8. Retarget website visitors
If you have any budget to play with, you can start advertising on Facebook for as little as $5 per day. A paid Facebook marketing strategy can help boost views of your Facebook business page and drive more traffic to your website. It might be necessary to run Facebook ads in order to reach your target audience on a regular basis.
“Facebook’s reach hasn’t necessarily decreased. It simply pivoted from organic to paid media,” says William Diaz, founder of Vertical Media. “In order for brands to truly reach their full potential on the platform they’ll need to fire up the ads manager.”
If you’re new to Facebook advertising, start by retargeting people who’ve previously engaged with your brand. There’s little work that needs to go into educating your advertising audience, because they already know your business and product exists.
Build Facebook custom audiences for people who have:
- Visited your website
- Interacted with your mobile app
- Engaged with a video you posted to Facebook
- Already bought a product from you
Make sure you’ve got the Meta pixel set up across these platforms. The pixel will collect information about people engaging with your app or website, then match them with a Facebook user profile.
Even if your business is relatively small, you’ll likely have a large group of people who fall within these custom audiences. The vast majority (97%) of people visit a website and leave without purchasing something. Appearing in their Facebook news feed is a reminder to purchase the products they showed an interest in.
9. Run ads with influencer endorsements
We’ve already touched on the power that influencers hold when marketing a business on Facebook. Include those influencer endorsements in your Facebook ad campaigns, like this example from Fussy, to build trust and credibility.
William Diaz, founder of Vertical Media, takes this one step further: “Advertising through an influencer’s page has been a game changer for our clients. There’s no need to negotiate with the top influencers in your industry to get a quick post on Instagram or Facebook.
“Find an industry micro-influencer with less than 100,000 followers, then purchase content from them promoting your product, create a few variations of the ad, and run it through their page.
“A secret tip is to create lookalikes and custom audiences from this influencer to target this uniquely crafted ad creative. Chances are, their followers will see the product and other people who are familiar with this influencer. This is a win-win: they get more impressions on their likeness and our conversions shoot up.”
10. Run A/B tests
The first Facebook ad campaign you create won’t necessarily be the winner. Much like organic posting, the advert with the highest return on investment needs some experimentation to find.
Use Facebook’s built-in A/B testing tool to experiment with:
- Ad format. From Canvas ads to image carousels, some Facebook ad formats attract more attention than others. Use different formats within an ad set to see which your target audience engages with the most.
- Placement. The Facebook news feed is often regarded as prime real estate for advertisers. Test whether that’s the case for your small business, or whether alternative placements—like the right-hand column or Meta Audience Network—perform better.
- Campaign objective. Facebook’s advertising algorithm uses the campaign objective to build audiences and bill advertisers. Local businesses might see success with page like or lead generation objectives, whereas ecommerce brands often set their goal as conversions.
- Call to action. Beneath your ad creative is a small CTA button. Test whether Book Now, Shop Now, or Learn More does a better job of convincing your audience to complete the goal.
He says, “While most advertisers are focused on pitching their products directly from ads, we take a bit of a different approach.
“We lead with a value- and education-first mentality, so instead of running ads to our product pages, we run our ads to a podcast episode that our founder was featured on. In that podcast, we lead people to a free ebook, and eventually to our Facebook group.
“Because of this, consumers feel very educated about what’s causing their hair loss before we ever introduce our products to them. As a result, our ads see a six times return without ever really having to sell prospects on why our products are superior.”
11. Turn Facebook audiences into email subscribers
It’s all well and good to build an audience for your Facebook pages. More followers equals a greater pool of people to promote your products to.
However, many marketers see Facebook marketing as building an audience on rented land. The platform can shut down your page, limit organic reach, or change its algorithm unexpectedly—all of which impact your ability to connect with the audience you’ve worked so hard to build.
Mitigate risk by turning your Facebook audience into email subscribers. Run advertising campaigns that direct your target audience to a lead magnet, such as a:
- Free workbook
It’ll give you a direct line of communication with your target audience—a way to contact them if the worst did happen.
Take your Facebook marketing strategy to the next level
Facebook is a behemoth of a social network, but despite recent controversies, it’s still a valuable tool for marketers to reach their target audience—whether you have money to invest or not.
Experimentation is the key to Facebook marketing success. Test which content formats, campaign objectives, and posting times do a better job of engaging your audience. Your Facebook Insights will unveil the best route to conversions.