With the introduction of Facebook’s graph search, ostensibly more and more people will be using Facebook as a search engine. Who knows yet if this will rival Google, but you can bet that if you own a business that you’ll eventually show up in Facebook’s search. So make sure you’re optimized!
Set Up Your Location
The first and foremost thing to do is to set up your business on Facebook Places!
Often, your business has already been added. If it has, go ahead and claim that page instead of trying to make a second one. There’s a little link below the map that will allow you to verify that “Bob’s Bobbers” is actually yours, Bob. Now, you can expand the information for the site with photos, phone numbers, etc. (Think Yelp.) You can also link up your business with your fan page to draw more traffic to your social media efforts.
Get the Word Out
Make sure people know to check in whenever they visit your store. Put signs around your place of business advertising the service. If you have a restaurant, put little placards on all the tables alongside your daily deals and coupons. The idea here is that if people check in, their friends will see them visiting your place of business and will wonder what you’re all about.
Another great idea (to steal one from FourSquare) is to offer coupons for your customers who check in to your place on Facebook Places. Alternatively, you could offer in-store rewards for, say, checking in a certain number of times in a month. When your loyal customers visit and check-in enough, you could hand out free t-shirts, food, or offer great deals on products. When people feel like they’re working towards something, they’re more inclined to do it, even if means going out of their way.
Track the Competition
Facebook Places could also be a good way to keep track of how well your fellow entrepreneurs are doing. If you notice a rise in visits to a competitor’s store, you might try and find out what the big buzz is all of a sudden. If your cross-town rival starts offering insane coupons on Facebook Places, it gives you a chance to come up with a counter-attack.
Also, keep an eye out on your neighbors (if you have them), especially if your store is in a strip mall or around lots of other businesses. If their customer count starts to rise meteorically, now is the time to capitalize on that foot traffic!
Another way to track the competition is to see what trade shows and conferences people are attending. If you see that the proprietor of a rival fishing store has been attending a show in Minnesota and gaining customers from it, it might be time to attend that show as well!
There are all sorts of ways that Facebook Places can be useful for your business in the future, as long as it takes off. What are some of your own ideas?