In a small business, every dollar counts. Spending a lot of money on a little return hurts. That’s what makes it worthwhile to check out two free tools that small business owners can utilize to promote their businesses. In just a few steps, you can set up Google My Business and Facebook business pages. As with any social media, the key lies in keeping your information up-to-date and continually adding content. Small business owners wear many hats, so in addition to running the business, this potentially time-consuming task may fall to them, too. If you’re going to choose one or both of these tools to promote your business, commit to monitoring and keeping your pages current.

Let’s take a look at each of these tools and their advantages and disadvantages.

Google My Business

What It Is

Google My Business is a free business listing. It allows your business to connect with customers across Google Search and Maps. Think of Google My Business as a local phone book. Features include your phone number, directions to your place of business, hours, a messaging feature, and a link to your website. You can post photos and videos, and offers, event notifications, and updates in your listing. This tool allows for customer interaction, too, like reviews of your business or communicating through the messaging feature, not to mention an online ordering system and booking system.

Unlike social media sites, Google My Business reaches customers at a point where they are actively inquiring in order to make a purchase. Using Google My Business Insights, you can see what searches consumers used to find your business listing, how they searched for your business (by name, by product or service, or by a related product or service). You can also view how customers connected with you in one of these four ways: phone, requesting directions, calling, or messaging. And you can see what geographical areas requested directions so that you can better target these areas in the future. Statistics on phone calls show you when peak period calling times are. The tool also measures how many views your photos received.

Pros

With a Google My Business listing, your company reaches customers in your own neighborhood rather than try to compete for keywords nationally. The statistics below make a strong case for marketing to your local consumers. Use posts to Google My Business to drive customers to your website.

  • 46% of all Google searches look for local information. (Source: GoGulf)
  • 72% of consumers who did a local search visited a store within five miles. (Source: HubSpot Marketing Statistics)
  • 97% of people learn more about a local company online than anywhere else. (Source: SEO Tribunal)
  • 88% of searches  for local businesses on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours. (Source: Nectafy)
  • 78% of location-based mobile searches result in an offline purchase. (Source: SEO Tribunal)
  • “Near me” or “close by” type searches grew by more than 900% over two years. (Source: Chat Meter)
  • 72% of computer or tablet users and 67% of smartphone users want ads that are customized to their city or zip code. (Source: Think with Google)
  • By using location-based coupons on mobile can lead to a 9916% increase in incremental mobile revenue. (Source: WordStream)
  • Local searches result in purchases 28% of the time. (Source: Joel House Search Media)
  • Search result information sends 70% of consumers to a physical store location. (Source: Joel House Search Media)
  • 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information. (Source: Think with Google

Cons

Although Google My Business offers many of the same features you may find in a website, it is not meant to substitute for a standalone company website. Think of Google My Business simply as a business listing that you can use to drive consumers to your website.

Facebook Business Page

What It Is

Facebook Business pages, like Google My Business pages, are free to create. Here you can post information about your business, specials, and create or share posts about industry topics. Facebook Business page is free to set up, but placing a Facebook ad will cost you money. Visitors can Like or Follow a Business page. It also includes About, Services, Review, Shop, Community, and Job pages. Multiple people can manage the page, so you can assign more than one person from your organization to keep the page up-to-date.

You can invite customers and others to Like or Follow your business page. This opens up the opportunity for ongoing interaction with these people. Use your Facebook page to create and nurture customer relationships. You can use the Business page features to publicize your company’s events, hire new employees, and sell your products.

Note that it is against Facebook’s policy to use a personal page for business purposes and if you choose to do so, Facebook can delete your account. Although you must link your business page to a personal account, the two are kept separate, and while personal pages can be designated privacy in the settings, business pages are always public.

Pros

And now for some Facebook statistics:

Cons

  1. Not everyone is on Facebook. Facebook requires a user to create an account and login, and will not allow non-Facebook users to leave messages or book appointments or reservations.
  2. Facebook algorithms constantly change. In 2018, Mark Zuckerberg wrote of the changes Facebook planned to implement. “As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”
  3. Unlike your own website, you are not in complete control of your Facebook business page. Again, the ever-changing algorithms. Facebook can shut down your page without your permission or knowledge.
  4. Facebook limits your branding options.
  5. Conversations can quickly get nasty on Facebook, sometimes from even the most innocuous comment, and that could damage your organization’s reputation.

Bottom Line

These are two platforms worth taking advantage of. The price is right. Once you get a page up and running, it is important to check it regularly to make sure information is up-to-date and you are introducing new content. If you are a one-man show or your staff is small and maintaining both of these is not feasible, choose one for now, get into a rhythm, and save the other platform for the future.