If you’re a small business owner, no doubt you know that marketing and advertising have changed dramatically in recent years. In fact, it likely makes you crazy. Old tools no longer work as well (if at all) and the new ones, while more accessible (read: less expensive), require time to learn how to use them effectively.

The business owners we talk to wonder if it’s worth the investment of time – and the accompanying change of focus from core business functions – to master these channels. Our answer: it depends but, most likely, yes.

The thing most business owners don’t realize is that while they’re focused on the fact that marketing their businesses changed, the more important piece of the puzzle is this: the way people purchase goods, services and pretty much everything else has changed, too.

There are 5.1 billion searches on Google every single day. That’s billion with a “b.” With only 7 billion (or so) people residing on the planet at any one time, that means that something like 72 percent of them are doing a Google search every day.

Some studies say that more than 90 percent of consumers use search before making a purchase. They’re looking for information, insight, reviews, education – anything that can help them make a more informed decision, whether they’re buying an $11 razor or investing $40k in professional services.

Social media allows businesses to participate in conversations with customers and potential customers, informing, educating, and engaging them while they are a) not in front of you, and b) still in their decision-making process.

A Harvard Business Review article from last year heralded the end of “solution sales” and laid down some pretty terrifying stats for marketers:

“A  recent … study of more than 1,400 B2B customers found that those customers completed, on average, nearly 60% of a typical purchasing decision—researching solutions, ranking options, setting requirements, benchmarking pricing, and so on—before even having a conversation with a supplier.”

Translation: you don’t even know someone’s a prospect until they have a) done most of their homework, and b) pretty much made their decision.

Enter social media (and content marketing).

Content marketing gives you the opportunity to create the educational, informative materials that your prospects are looking for to help them inform their decisions. Social media gives you the opportunity to put those materials where people will find them.

One of the most popular of these social media channels is Facebook, with 1.11 billion users, 50 percent of whom log on every day.  Facebook users spend an average of 20 minutes on the site each time they visit and are often highly engaged and ready to converse, learn and share.

With such a massive number of active users, it makes sense that Facebook would be a great place for a business to test the social-media waters. (Caveat: who is your target audience? You must first answer that question before you can decide which of the social networks will be most effective for you.)

Where to start?

Facebook allows you to create personal profiles, pages, groups and applications, but the best choice for businesses are “Pages.” Pages are free to create, indexed by search engines and easy to set up (it’s likely your competition has already figured this out and has created their Page already).

To help you get started, we’ve created a “quick-start” guide to walk you through page creation, customization and promotion. Please complete the form below to download the guide.

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments and we’ll be happy to try to answer them for you.

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