Updated May 26 at 6:26pm

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Learning to like the ’book

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Despite its massive reach and wide adoption, Facebook remains baffling to many small-business owners. Facebook itself has never really understood small business, and hasn’t done a great job explaining how biz owners can use it to grow sales.

To Facebook’s credit, that’s starting to change as they provide more and better tools to help small firms, local businesses, professionals, startups and others leverage a platform that now claims over 1 billion users. If you have a Facebook business page, you’ll be hearing more from Facebook as it rolls out a variety of new ways for small companies to use paid advertising.

So far, however, the vast majority of local businesses are sticking with what they can get from Facebook for free – which is actually quite a lot. Only about 7 percent of small businesses surveyed recently by Merchant Circle are using paid promotional services on Facebook.

The good news is that Facebook has upgraded the free tools and information it offers to help you succeed. The Facebook for Business section (www.Facebook.com/business) has helpful how-to tips and guidance on everything from building your page to best practices for engaging users.

Success always starts with building an engaging Business Page – the free foundation of your effort to grow with Facebook. Here’s a quick cheat sheet on what to do:

• Pick a photo or logo to use as your “profile picture.” This is the smaller image associated with your page. In some cases, this might be your photo, a square version of your logo, or some other graphic representation of your business.

• Create a “tag line” or short sentence that captures briefly what your business is about. Specifically what you do or sell, and the value you offer.

• Short posts work best. No more than 250 characters (about 50 words). They’ll get 60 percent more likes, comments and shares than longer posts.

• The best things to share, however, are photos (including photo albums) and videos. People are twice as likely to engage with these as other types of posts.

• To add details about your business, click on the Edit Page button in the admin panel. Then choose “Update Info” to change or add what you want.

• Invite people to like your page – your community of friends, family, customers, employees and others who care about your business. The “Build Audience” button on your admin panel will show you some things to try. •

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