Every day, more than 1.23 billion users log into Facebook to check the latest from their friends, see updates from companies they follow and watch the odd cat video. That's just slightly fewer people than the entire population of China (the world's most populous country).
If you're not already making the most of this free marketing tool, today is the day to create a company account and get sharing. For those who have never used Facebook before, it may pay to ask a friend to sit down with you and show you how this social media platform works. Once you have a solid working knowledge of the basics of Facebook, here's what you need to know to help turn it into a marketing platform for you and your business.
Setting up your account
Firstly, you need to create a company profile.
Write a short description of exactly what your business does and where you are willing to work. Add a profile image (your logo is likely best) and a handful of images of your work to get you started so the first people to visit your page have something to browse through. Also ensure that if your company name is simply your name, include the title 'painter' (or 'painting' etc) so people know that this is your professional page, and list your profile in the correct business category. Be sure to fill out the details section with your contact information so people can get in touch right away.
Ask your family and friends to 'like' the page, then once you have 25 likes, you can change your Facebook URL from a series of random numbers to a 'vanity URL', which includes your company name. This makes it easier for people to find you in searches and helps solidify your page as a professional one.
It all starts with images
Research from eMarketer shows that Facebook posts with photos enjoy as much as an 87 per cent interaction rate. This is a huge statistic, and is even more pertinent when you consider that the same research found that other post types (such as links) only got roughly 4 per cent interaction.
Therefore, start with photos. Even if you're sharing a basic update, add an image to the status to help it get seen. You can use shots that you've taken of you and your employees at work to give your page a personal feel, you can include before-and-after photos to showcase your work, and you can even share fun memes (internet jokes) that are relevant to your work or the industry.
Don't be tempted to make all your images and shares about promoting your product and trying to make people hire you. Each post should be something your followers can engage with in some way, rather than being a blatant sales grab, as this will quickly put people off.
Don't forget your hashtags
Hashtags are a growing part of Facebook, so be sure to always include a few relevant words and short phrases such as 'painting' or 'painter' to help the post achieve higher visibility.
The best times to post
There have been a number of research projects that have looked at the best times to post on Facebook in order to get the most likes, shares and comments on your updates. While they often vary slightly, the rule of thumb is the same across all social platforms: post when people have a little time.
For example, 9 a.m. on a Monday morning when people are sitting down to work is not a great time to post as your followers won't be on Facebook. However, at 3 p.m. when they're taking breaks, or at 8 p.m. after they've had dinner, are often good times as that's when they're logging into their accounts. Just remember not to post more than once every two or three days, as you might put your followers off by appearing on their feeds too often.
Note that Facebook also offers additional paid options to further boost your business. This includes everything from placing advertisements on the site to paying to promote a particular update that you've shared. Once you've mastered the basics of managing a Facebook page and are comfortable with it, one or more of these options could be a good next step.