With over 800 million users worldwide (50% of which log-in every single day), Facebook has become a powerful marketing environment for many businesses. Facebook is even more than a website, it’s a true social platform that is thriving. Users average 37 minutes per session on the site and there are 350 million users that access Facebook via their mobile devices.
Why You Should Market On Facebook
Alright, so you’ve seen some Facebook usage numbers, but why should you market on the site? The answer is pretty simple, Facebook offers a variety of marketing opportunities and makes it easy to reach your target market. From early on Facebook gave brands and companies a voice on their platforms.
From pages, ads, places and apps, there are a handful of different opportunities to reach targeted fans. A detailed list of each opportunity can get found here. Facebook also created their own business guide showcasing specific products for SMBs. This approach shows that unlike some social networks, Facebook is actively cultivating an environment for businesses. You can feel comfortable allocating resources on the platform and can expect sustainable results.
Before jumping right into Facebook marketing, you should put first things first: What are the goals that you are looking to achieve? No campaign should be without measurable results, and Facebook is no different. Some of the most common goals that Facebook marketers stride towards are:
- Developing audiences
- Increasing sales & conversions
- Generating traffic
- Building brand awareness
- Improving customer service
All of these goals can certainly be accomplished on Facebook, but each may leverage different features. So first layout your goals, then begin putting together a plan for Facebook success.
On Facebook, profiles are accounts for individual users, and pages are locations for businesses, organizations, brands and causes. It is important to make sure that when setting up your business’ presence, a page is used instead of a profile, as profiles are for humans only and can be terminated if used incorrectly.
A page should be the heart of your overall Facebook marketing presence. Pages give you direct access into user’s stream, and allow for direct contact with Facebook users. If a user ‘like’s your Facebook page, then a post from your page can show up in a user’s stream, just like that of another profile.
This of course is a very powerful messaging opportunity for businesses as your Facebook page can almost act as a social RSS feed.
Messaging That Works
When posting to your Facebook page, using the proper messaging and frequency is extremely important.
- Offer value – Instead of simply saying “Good Morning” or other empty posts, make sure that your posts have value. Offer up specials, exclusive news, coupon codes or helpful info in posts and people will in-turn share the posts.
- Share amazing content – Much like offering value, sharing great content will be viewed favorably by your audience. This doesn’t mean that you should only share your own content or that you should share everything in sight. If something is entertaining, helpful or informative and it matches your audience, then share it. If not, then don’t dilute your message.
- Start conversations – By covering topics that users have strong opinions on, Facebook pages can see heightened visibility. By getting users to weigh-in on hot topics, current events or new product lines pages will get a boost.
- Interact with other pages – As mentioned earlier, pages can’t quite act like profiles, but they can tie in other Facebook pages using posts or comments. So if you are creating a post that includes another brand, use the @ symbol and include that brand from the dropdown. The post will then show on their page, and they will be notified. This means that you can potentially open the topic up to a broader audience.
- Ask questions – A simple way to start a conversation is to ask a question related to your page that everyone can answer. For example, if an iPhone blog was trying to get users to comment, a broad question like “Will you be buying the iPhone 4s?” can appeal to all, where the question “What do you think about the new faster dual-core iPhone 4s processor?” may alienate users. The engagement that accompanies questions can help to boost visibility and reach on Facebook.
When posting, you should be cognizant of how your messages are being received. Too many posts? You may be annoying fans. Too few posts? People may forget about you or stop following. Many studies say to post once every other day, but use Facebook’s Analytics tool – Facebook Insights – to find what works for you and your audience!
Through the years, Facebook has continually tried to ensure that the most relevant posts were seen by Facebook profiles. In its quest for continual optimization, Facebook started to stop showing all posts to users. The posts that were displayed to users depended on EdgeRank, an internal ranking factor that Facebook uses to determine the quality of posts for users. Basically EdgeRank uses three factors, Affinity (the most heavily weighted,) Weight of Post (what type of info is shared,) and Time.
The best way to ensure that your page has a strong edge rank is if your engagement is high. Use Facebook Insights to make sure that users are enjoying posts, find what type of information is shared at the highest rate and what users like. If a specific post type isn’t making the grade, abandon it and try different content.
Promotion Of Pages
While creating pertinent posts can help the reach of your message, having a large audience to speak to is equally as important. Your page may have the best posts, but if you don’t have an audience to see the posts, your effort is wasted. Here are a few ways to promote your Facebook page and grow your audience:
- Widgets & Buttons
Inserting clear buttons & widgets on your site can help to connect your audience with your Facebook page. Use Facebook like buttons, like boxes or badges and widgets to show website visitors about your Facebook presence.
- Offline Promotions
One trick that I like to utilize when growing fans is to leverage offline assets as much as possible, especially if post-sale. If you have a physical presence utilize your current retail area to promote your Facebook presence. Place signage and pomote in-store, let customers know about Facebook only discounts, put your Facebook link on receipts..etc. Getting current customers to like you on Facebook is much easier (and more cost effective) than selling yourself to an audience that hasn’t heard of you before, so convert the low hanging fruit!
- Social Cross Promotion
Have a Twitter account? Is your business on LinkedIn? Use any social accounts for cross-promotion of your Facebook page. Users on these networks are already social and already like you, so let them know about your Facebook presence.
- Facebook Ads
An effective (but potentially pricey) way for users to promote their page on Facebook is to use Facebook Ads. Facebook ads combine an image with a title and description and offer a variety of targeting options so you can reach the most relevant of users. Advertising your Facebook page with Facebook ads will make an ad interactive in that a user can like your page directly from the ad itself! Be careful using Facebook ads as it can get pricey quick. If taking this route, study up, and make sure you have a good understanding as to how the ads work, as you can spend money quickly (and ineffectively) on Facebook.
One area that Facebook allows users to customize is the tab section. Pages can contain custom tabs around specific promotions, sales or simply to drive users to like a page. These tabs can feature dynamic content and tie in directly with Facebook’s Open Graph items. Simple guides can be found showing how to make custom tabs. There is also a variety of apps that can be used to create tabs.
If you want to take your custom tab to the next level look to what’s called a ‘fan-gate’ or ‘reveal-page.’ These pages hide valuable information behind the tab and show only to those Facebook profiles that are already fans. This means that you can persuade users to become fans, by making “fan-only” content. K2 skis did a great job of this in the past, when they released their entire ski line for the season to fans-only. This can help you really ramp up the number of Facebookers who like your page!
Setting Yourself Up For Long Term Success
So there you have it, an overview for getting started on Facebook. If you can take away one thing from this article, make sure that you track the progress towards your goals. Facebook is always-changing and something that may work today, may be old news tomorrow. Tracking is crucial. Make sure to continually monitor your progress and you will be destined for Facebook success!