You all know by now, that – in terms of web presence – I would recommend an easy to update, blog-based website to support your business. However, many people are more comfortable using Facebook, and I would suggest that using Facebook for your dog business is an essential part of getting started.
The majority of people still use Google to search for what they wish to find on the internet, and a good website will definitely bring clients to you, but increasingly, Facebook offers an alternative route to getting your message to prospective clients, as well as adding value to those you already have.
Using Facebook for your dog business
There are three main ways to use Facebook to promote your dog care business. These are a Facebook page, a Facebook group and Facebook promotions. Let’s look at each in turn.
Most dog care businesses seem to create a Facebook page. This contains their business details, services and reviews and is often updated with pictures of clients dogs while out and about, walking. This is a good beginning, but it is absolutely only a beginning. You see, this kind of page will only ever come to the attention of some of the people who search Facebook for dog care in your area. It will serve your current clients (who will visit to see their dogs) but it does little to build you an audience.
Facebook is so crammed with amazingly cute dog videos, dog related information and such like that no stranger is going to regularly spend time on your page, unless you work hard to make it appealing. This isn’t difficult, but if you aren’t going to have time to work on it at least a few times a week, then pay a Facebook savvy person a small amount, to keep posting interesting dog related items to your page.
Our dog business page, is gradually building up an audience, and I pay one of my co-workers to post dog videos and information on a daily basis. She also posts pictures of our clients dogs, but that is very much a part of the whole. This results in a lively active page that is of interest to anyone ‘doggie’… and so we build an audience.
Your audience doesn’t have to be all “local people wanting dog care”, as the purpose is to build your presence and relevancy. Someone who lives in Cambridge, might easily have a friend in Newcastle who might – some time next year – get her first dog and need a dog walker. The Cambridge friend, being a great fan of your page, and feeling they know you well enough, will say – “I know a really great walking company in your area…”
A Facebook page is nice as a showcase for who you are and what you do, but it’s not hugely relational. Visitors can post, but their posts are not immediately obvious on the page, and while they can respond to posts in the usual manner with likes and comments, they can’t post a discussion topic, or ask you a question directly other than by private message. This makes it high value to you for marketing, but lower value to your clients.
Using a Facebook group for your dog business can be a great way to engage with your clients and co-workers. You can have it as private, so that people need to be approved by you before joining, hence keeping out trolls and spammers, who may just want a captive audience.
A group gives you the capacity to really engage with the members in full discussion threads, the content of which is searchable, which is a really useful feature. I use a private group to communicate with my co-workers so that we all get the necessary information on changes with clients dogs, details of extra available work, notifications of illness etc. It means I can easily locate a piece of equipment, or check if someone has a particular key, without having to individually speak to each co-worker (there are 8 of us).
While I use an email newsletter to communicate with all my clients in one mailing, a Facebook group would also work for this.
From boosting important posts, to creating adverts to push out to a wider Facebook audience, promotions are an excellent way of marketing your business. Each promotion can be targeted by location, interests, age etc. Make sure your advert or post has a striking image – pixabay is an excellent free source – and clearly states its purpose without lots of words.
Promotions can also take the form of giveaways and competitions. These can work really well. I used a giveaway to ask for likes and shares on my rat nutrition page and since then the organic reach of my average post is about 1,500. Before the giveaway, this averaged out around 300! This means when I release my next rat diet ebook, my audience has increased by 500% without having to pay for advertising.
Clearly there are a number of ways to use Facebook for your dog business, and you may wish to try them all and see what works for you. The important thing is to follow the general principles of marketing a service business:
- Value to your clients
- Value to your prospective clients..
- Value to the people who might refer your clients to you.
Build relationship, add value and then you’ll be in an excellent position to sell your services when the time comes.