If you have a local Facebook Business Page you'll soon have a new tool to add to your social media marketing arsenal. The new "Offers" service, announced by Facebook last month, is expected to roll out to more Facebook Page admins over the next few months.
Facebook Offers is a new feature for page admins to create and share discounts or coupons with the people who Like their Page. Currently, Offers are available in beta to a limited number of local business pages, but Facebook said it plans to launch Offers more broadly soon.
If Offers has not yet been made available to you on Facebook -- and you don't want to wait for a broader roll-out of the feature -- you can take the proactive step of asking Facebook to use the feature by filling out an application/request form.
How Do Facebook Offers Work?
In typical Facebook style, Offers is an easy feature to use. From the Sharing Tool at the top of your Facebook Timeline, you can click Offer, Event + an then click Offer. A simple form will require you to:
- add a headline for the offer (e.g. Buy one pair of shorts, get a second pair free)
- upload a photo that resizes well as a thumbnail icon image
- set a number of "claims" (e.g. good for 500 customers)
- choose the offer start and expiration dates
- add terms and conditions for the offer
Facebook Offer specifications require the headline text be no more than 90 characters, while the terms and conditions text is set to 900 characters, and your offer image should be 90 x 90 pixels in size.
With the details in place, you can preview your new Facebook Offer and publish it -- or make edits until you're happy with it. If you start an Offer campaign but decide you no longer want to run it, you can delete the offer (simply remove it from your Page like you do any post) but remember that people who have already claimed the offer might still redeem it, and Facebook warns you must honor any such redemptions.
To redeem the offer, people will click the "Get Offer" link that's shown below your Offer headline text. The offer is then sent to the primary email address associated with the person's Facebook account.
Facebook cautions businesses to make sure an offer complies with applicable laws and also makes it clear that you cannot user Facebook’s offer creator tool to offer "the equivalent of a gift card, gift certificate or store value card." When you're not sure about regulations, it's always best to check with an expert rather than risk losing your Facebook account because you violated Facebook's Pages Terms.
Minimal Targeting Options for Facebook Offers
When you create an offer, you have only one basic targeting option to control who will see your Offer when it's published. You do this using the dropdown Public menu (next to the Post button) and select Language/Location. Here, you type in the countries or languages of the people you want to see the offer.
Facebook has said it is not possible to target offers by other demographics at present time; anyone visiting your Page will be able to see your offer, unless you've targeted it to a specific country or language.
While Facebook Offers is free to use, it's a feature that compliments Facebook's options for Sponsored Stories -- an advertising option that is generated from the actions people take with your business. Sponsored Stories, like any of Facebook's advertising campaigns, lets you be more specific with targeting.
Best Tips for Creating Successful Facebook Offers
On Facebook, businesses need to make sure all posted messages, including offers, are well created and designed. Since people can easily hide your posts in their news feed, it's important to make sure your Offer is clear, that the offer has value and that it doesn't look like a "Facebook Spam" message.
When creating an Offer, Facebook does not force any minimum values or discounts, but the social networking giant does recommend you offer substantial discounts of at least 20 percent off regular prices or offer something free to reach more people. Here is Facebook's list of recommendations for creating Offers:
- Keep it simple: describe your terms and conditions as simply as possible, and don't require customers to perform unusual activities.
- Use a clear and engaging image: photos of people using your product typically perform better than photos of your product by itself, and both of these generally perform better than your business's logo.
- Pin it: keep the offer pinned to the top of your Facebook Page so more people will see it.
- Use direct, natural language: make sure your headline leads with the value of the offer instead of marketing slogans.
- Use a reasonable expiry date: give people at least a few days to see and claim an offer. Take advantage of word-of-mouth promotion by allowing time for your offer to be shared between friends.
- Share existing offers: re-share an existing offer instead of creating the same offer twice so it's easier to track how many people are claiming it.
- Train your staff: Make sure your employees know the terms of your offer and how people can redeem it.
- Track offers: keep track of how many people claim, like, share, comment and use each offer to better understand what works and what doesn’t for your customers.
More Facebook Small Business Ecommerce Tips
Are you looking to get a better handle on integrating Facebook into your ecommerce marketing plan? Try these Facebook tips and guides for small business ecommerce sites:
- How to Sync Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn Social Activity
- Measure the Value of Social Activity With PowerReviews ESS
- 7 Tips to Manage Customer Service on Facebook
- Have Fun with Facebook Marketing Campaigns
- Juice up Your Facebook Page with Shopping Tabs
Vangie Beal is a seasoned online marketplace seller, frequent contributor to ECommerce-Guide.com and avid online bargain hunter. She is also managing editor of Webopedia.com.
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