Many people begin businesses in the ecommerce field because they can be successful without having to invest tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars before the store opens its doors, as is usually the case with brick-and-mortar retail. This reduced cost extends into other areas as well, such as marketing and promotion via social media.

Facebook holds the power to create conversations about a store and its products, and to eventually develop a community around a business page. Facebook is an especially versatile social network for businesses. The lack of character limits on posts, as well as the ability to use photos and videos, means that there aren't the same restrictions found on Twitter or Pinterest, for example.This kind of engagement is very valuable for store owners - not only does it fulfill a traditional marketing and advertising role, it allows ecommerce store owners to learn about customer reactions and make positive changes.

Here's a look at the most important parts of creating a business page on Facebook:

1. Building the basics of the page
The actual process of setting up a page is relatively simple. A business owner logs into his or her personal account and visits the "Create a Page" subdomain on Facebook. From there, choosing a category - often "Local Business or Place" but sometimes "Brand or Product" if that aspect of an ecommerce business is well-established - and providing the relevant information such as website address and business description is easy. Business owners should have a version of their logo and several product images on hand to add to the page. Having these in place is crucial as they'll be the first contact some visitors will have with a store's merchandise and brand.

Creating a direct ecommerce presence on a page early on is an important component. Businesses can integrate the option to purchase into their Facebook business pages, allowing customers to place an order without visiting the main ecommerce website of a business.

2. Attracting followers to the page
With the page in place, the next step is to begin to build a following. This requires significant effort on the part of the store owner to leverage their personal and professional networks to create an initial base of followers. Adding social media icons onto all the pages of an ecommerce store is another priority, as it guides shoppers who are already interested in a store's offerings directly to its presence on social media. Beyond the icons, ecommerce store owners should also include a request to follow the business page in order confirmation emails and in the "about" section of the store itself.

There are other ways to attract followers, leveraging the strengths of Facebook to bring more people to a page. Adding share buttons to product pages allows customers to show off a product they're considering or get opinions from their friends, also directing these friends-of-friends to a store. Similarly, a share button for completed orders also spreads the word about an ecommerce business. Including calls to action to follow a business page in any sort of discount or promotional effort can also work. This is especially true if a sale or giveaway centers around liking a Facebook business page to become eligible. As long as it's not too blatant, spammy or repetitive, store owners should take the initiative and include calls to action for liking a Facebook business page as the opportunity presents itself.

Creating discussion is also important for the success of a page. There are some basic best practices that can help guide new store owners as they begin using their business pages. Asking questions is one of the simplest ways to elicit a response. Although it can suffer from overuse if relied on constantly, asking questions on a regular basis encourages followers of your page to answer - and potentially exposes their friends to your page through appearances on news feeds as well. Media-rich posts, which include photos, audio and video, also tend to do better on Facebook than just text. This is easy enough for store owners who can share pictures and video of new products and items in use as well.

Just the beginning

These steps and are just the beginning of developing a strong presence on Facebook, but still require some significant time and effort on the part of an ecommerce store owner. A successful Facebook business page can create great - and free - promotional opportunities, but a lack of followers or an unattractive page will do little to help a business. Additionally, a lack of basic information, product images and easy access to the products themselves can all harm the effectiveness of the page. As is the case with other social media efforts, getting the first steps right is vitally important for an effective page that creates engagement and drives sales.


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