My friend Staci runs a skin care business from her home recently asked me how she could promote her business better on Facebook. I talked to her about the various types of ads you can run and the advantage of each.

The big selling point for using Facebook ads is that you can target your ads very specifically and only show them to people who live nearby. The drawback is there is a learning curve and it’s always changing. Also, in addition to investing the time both to learn and manage an ad campaign, you will need a daily budget. If you have the budget, unless you enjoy doing it, I would just hire someone like Avalaunch Media to run them for you. They’ll create the ads and run the campaign for you.

There are many free ways to promote a local business online that are easy and don’t require as much maintenance that every small business should use and maximize. Here are my top 3:

1. Maximize your Facebook business page with custom tabs
This is obvious, you need a Facebook page for your business. But after that, then what do you do? I found this business page from a Facebook ad asking me to like their page. It’s not a local business (in other words, it’s not in Utah) and so normally I would gloss over it. This time I wanted to do some research so I went to the page and I liked it. I found it was a good example of effective Facebook marketing for a local business.

Besides having a decent level of engagement and following, her cover photo (the large photo) clearly  tells you what she does. The custom tabs give you more information.

Imaginary Jane is in a crowded space – she is a graphic designer who creates logos, business cards and other collateral for small businesses. Her page is at  www.facebook.com/imaginaryjane

Note how she has created tabs (where it says “services” “prices” “contact”) which link to corresponding sections of her website. They have a nice style, which I’d expect because she’s a designer. There’s a consistent design for each button that fit with the overall theme of her page (color, look, font, etc). If you don’t have a website you can simply put the information right on your Facebook tabl. I liked that she put her pricing because immediately I knew what to expect. She is priced right for a small business and I thought to myself: I’d hire her!

It’s a little tricky to learn how to make custom Facebook tabs but you can learn or pay someone to do it for you by using a site like Elance or Odesk, maybe even on the cheap at Fiverr.

Note: Here’s an online scheduling tool: http://www.timetrade.com/products?product=professional that you can use if you create appointments, so people can schedule online. I’m sure there are Facebook apps that do this too (please suggest one in the comments if you have one you like).

2. Create a free profile on Yelp
Yelp is a community that rates and recommends businesses and most people know it as a good place to find restaurant reviews. However, Yelp features many types of businesses. You can create a Yelp business profile so you come up in searches on the site.

This is how I found someone who does eyelash extensions, who also has a home business. I went to Yelp, typed in “eyelash extensions, Kaysville” and found this business: http://www.yelp.com/biz/truebeauty-professional-skin-care-kaysville

She was one of two businesses that came up but she had no reviews.  I needed someone immediately and she could fit me in so I took a chance on her anyway and was really happy.

3. Create a Google business profile.
If you type a type of service or business along with a city and/or state name, you will usually see a Google listing come up first. You should create a business profile on Google, which is now technically a Google + profile.

I searched on, “eyelash extensions Kaysville Utah” and the top result was for a business called Eyecing. They also has a Google business listing with the address and a map on the right hand side of the page. They have no competition for their business listing because they’re the only business shown, and they didn’t have to pay for any of it.  It’s really amazing how much real estate on the page you get free as a local business, simply by getting your business listed. People can also leave a review and Google will display them, adding further credibility to your business.

These are some of my favorite tools for a small business to get free publicity and rankings, free. There are tips and tricks you can apply to further enhance your listings, but this is a good start. Please let me know if you have any additional tips you want to share about free ways to promote your local business online, by leaving a comment below.

Thank you for sharing!

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