A few years ago Facebook marketing was almost easy. Facebook was a boom town for small businesses. It was a virtual freeway to reach customers. That was music to the ears of cash poor small business owners, entrepreneurs, and bootstrapped startups.
Then everything changed. Facebook reworked their newsfeed and started weighting posts based on the popularity of the source. The source popularity for a page is determined by how active its fans are.
The bottom line now is that if your Facebook page is a ghost town with little to no fan activity then most of your fans (who have already liked your page) won’t see your new posts. On the other hand, if you have a lot of fan engagement, you can reach much, much farther.
Fan base + Engagement = Reach
Don’t take this to mean that if your page isn’t already popular then it’s not worth marketing on Facebook. You should market on Facebook because it works (if you do it right). In fact, there’s serious evidence that the way we use the internet has changed. Social networks in December 2014 drove 31% of all traffic to websites. That means more and more people are getting to a website by clicking on a link they saw on a social network instead of doing a search.
Results of a 2013 survey from Syncapse.com shows why people like brands on Facebook. Pay special attention to the 49% that want to “support the brand I like“, 42% that are looking for a coupon or discount, and the 41% that want regular updates. When you start improving your Facebook presence these will be your key areas that need attention.
There are some great strategies to make the most of your Facebook marketing. Each one of them will have a positive effect on your efforts. But for best results, you’ll want to make this a checklist and work on each one. This article contains affiliate links for some products.
1. Complete your Facebook page.
Nothing destroys confidence in a business like an incomplete Facebook page. You’ve all seen the business page with missing contact information, only 2 or 3 photos, and the low resolution company logo in the profile pic that gets cut off on the sides. How does seeing a page like that make you feel about the company? When I see a half finished or amateurish Facebook page I have the impression they aren’t serious about their business.
Branded background image.
You’ve worked hard to nail your branding so that it represents your company. If you haven’t, then you need to. You need to carry over your brand message to your Facebook page. This means that you need to use high quality images designed by a professional. Take your cues from the companies that spend millions on marketing. They will be your reference points for how to present your company and brand on Facebook.
Coca-cola reinforces their logo, colors, product, and brand message with their page’s profile and header image.
Ben & Jerry’s uses their logo as the profile image and reinforces their branding in the header image with their iconic Jersey cows and puffy clouds.
Complete and keep current your page information.
Think about how you want to portray yourself and your business. How do you want people to contact you? Do you prefer emails, phone calls, either, or both? Make sure to include that information. If you’re new to running a Facebook page, here is Facebook’s page management help.
Update your page permissions
While you’re updating your page information, make sure that you allow your fans to post and comment on your posts. Nothing will sabotage your fan engagement more than not allowing people to comment on and share your posts.
Use a Call to Action
Facebook pages have a number of different calls to action available. Use them. Tell your fans what you want them to do.
2. Use stories to get and keep your customers’ interest.
Make readers feel something with a product story.
Most products are boring out of context and so are most companies. To a customer, there’s not much exciting about a business. Nike is simply a company that makes running shoes until you see their ad campaign. They create a sense of excitement and desire for their products by combining what is really just a shoe with images of athletes who exhibit strength, skill, endurance, and physical grace. Profile your products in context. Talk about what they will do for your customers.
When we see a Nike product in context, we aren’t emotionally moved by the product. We see the qualities of the athlete. And we want them. Irrationally, we can imagine that the product will grant us the powers we want.
Out of context, the gear is just gear. Product photos are definitely important but they are not necessarily an ad in themselves. (There are exceptions.)
In context, the gear is part of an adventure. Adventure is the story and the gear will take you there.
Photo from: http://www.inkfry.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Mountain-Climbing.jpg
Tell stories about your customers, yourself, and your company.
People relate to other people. This should be a mantra along with “Absolutely you have to be a real person when you’re online.” We totally sabotage ourselves when we think of Facebook as a field to plant billboards. Most of the billion + Facebook users use it primarily as a social network where they also keep up on their personal interests and occasionally slip into someone’s sales funnel.
This means that you need to use Facebook as a person would. People typically post a status update, “like” some things, and share some other things. As a business, you should behave in almost the same way.
Tell Your Customer’s Stories.
Talk about the problem your customers had before your product and the success they had after it. If you sell shampoo and your customers had dry, frizzy hair before your shampoo and now have shiny, silky hair, then talk about it. If you’re an accountant and your clients were paying too much on their taxes, then talk about how much money you saved them.
Tell Your Own Story.
Be a real person. As a person, your customers will be able to relate to you. Think about the common ground you have with your customers and talk about that.
Incorporate stories about yourself like these:
- What you’re doing when you’re not working.
- Your wedding anniversary or birthday celebration.
- Talk about your values as a person.
- Tell them about what drives you. What are you passionate about? Some of your customers will want to know.
- Take select photos of your personal life and share them with your stories. I shouldn’t have to tell you to skip on the drunk Karaoke photos or not to include anything to do with a late night in Vegas.
Tell Your Company’s Story.
Again, be a real person. You started a company for a reason. Did you want to provide financial security for your family? Do you have a hope that you can help people and change lives? Was your plan to gain financial freedom from a day job? Tell people about it. They will relate to you as a person.
- The successes you’ve had with your business.
- Your failures.
- What you do when a plan fails. What drives you to try again?
Write your stories with a casual tone. Be a human talking to other humans. You’re not presenting anything. You’re telling stories.
3. Engage your fans with interesting content.
Above all, everything you post on your business page needs to be interesting. Keep to these guidelines and you’ll see great engagement results.
- Reply to all comments and messages. If someone says something nice abut you, your company, or your products then thank them. If you receive some criticism then handle your anger humiliation offline. Then reply casually and calmly to the specific concerns that were raised. That person may never be a customer but there are a lot more potential customers watching to see what you’ll do. Show the rest of them how you do business by being a professional.
- Keep a presence on your page. Check it regularly. You don’t need to get anxious if you haven’t checked in an hour or two. Set up a schedule to check at specific intervals.
4. Build and maintain interest with your Facebook fans using promotions.
Offer coupons for your Facebook fans.
Make your fans feel like insiders. Offer a promotion code and only publish it on your Facebook page. Make it special for the people who visit your page.
You can even sweeten the deal by offering an added discount during checkout if customers share the coupon with their social networks. According to Market Track, 83% of unplanned sales are due to coupons. Social coupons can be a great way to generate even more sales and grow your social networks at the same time.
Build urgency with a flash sale.
Let your Facebook fans know that a promotion will only run for 48 hours or that there are only a limited number of items available. Combine this with the coupon code promotion above so you join that insider feeling with a sense of urgency.
5. Include social media posts in your editorial calendar.
Keep all your social media posts organized with an editorial calendar like this one from Hootsuite.
Create your calendar in Google Spreadsheets and have it with you on all your devices. You can plan out your posts on Facebook and all your other social networks. Using the Clicks column and even expanding it to include Shares and Comments, you can also keep track of the posts that had the best engagement. This could help you tune the types of posts that you make.
6. Create a posting schedule.
Schedule posts for future delivery directly in Facebook or with a third party service like Postcron or Hootsuite. This can be huge time saver. Write your posts in batches ahead of time and schedule them for delivery throughout the week or month. Be sure to check back with your page’s Insights so you can see which posts are performing best.
An important thing to remember if you’re using Facebook’s scheduler is that once you save the scheduled post you can only edit the main text, not the image or link. To change those you’ll need to delete the scheduled post and create a new one.
7. Use video.
51.9% of marketers worldwide believe video delivers the best ROI. On top of that, Invodo found that 92 percent of mobile video viewers share videos with others. But video is too expensive, right? It’s true that well produced video often takes specialized skills and equipment. That doesn’t mean that budget conscious business owners are out of luck.
Create your own promo video.
- Write a script.
Plan on a video that runs for 30-60 seconds. The script will save you a lot of trial and error and makes you focus on your message. The result will be an on target message. So spend the extra time to have a concise message and get the script just right.Put your main message into the first 30 seconds. Your core message should be distilled into a single sentence. Try to answer the question “What’s the point of my company, product, or service?”Make your script a story. The same rules for Facebook posts apply to video too. So re-read those again before you start on your script. Talk about yourself and why you started your business, what keeps you going, and what you care about. Tell a story about a customer that was helped by your product or service. Put your product or service in context. Is it meant to be exciting, comforting, helpful… Tell the story.Until you get comfortable in front of a camera, stick to the script and resist the temptation to ad-lib.
- Record the voiceover.
You’ll want to invest for this one. Laptop and phone microphones won’t cut it. A popular microphone is the Yeti but there are a lot of others (affiliate link). You’ll want to do your research. Any audio work will probably need some processing after the recording is finished. For Mac, GarageBand is a go-to choice. For Windows, the landscape is bit wider.
- Use a decent video camera for live action video.
There are so many options (affiliate link). You’ll want to select one based on price, color quality, and resolution.If you’re recording yourself or other people speaking in your video, be aware that the audio quality of the camera might not be great. This is especially true if there’s background noise from traffic, wind, or anything else. You may want to record the audio separately with a dedicated microphone and combine it later when you edit the video.
- If you want to skip the live action video.
You can create and edit how-to videos and on screen tutorials with tools like Camtasia (PC), Jing (PC) or Screenflow (Mac). There are dozens of options to make great short commercials, promos, and presentations. Presentation software is usually grouped together as alternatives to PowerPoint but they are often much more than that.Create your slides, add transitions, and then play the presentation. Add music, sound effects, and the voiceover and you’re almost done. Most of the presentation software options allow you export the presentation as a high definition video. Next share it Facebook and YouTube. Be sure to add a compelling description to let people know what they’re about to watch. To keep your description focused on the point of the video, refer back to the concise message you came up with when you wrote your script.Video creation can be time intensive but if you complete most of the work yourself it will be easy to keep the cost manageable.
For a rough and ready video use Periscope.
Periscope from Twitter lets you create a live stream video using your Android device or iPhone. Use it for whatever you like for a live product review, reply to customer questions, share customer feedback, or deliver news or updates about you or your business. Live streaming means that you’re on the air live with your audience. You’ll want to promote your live stream ahead to of time to make sure you have an audience. After your live stream ends, you can post your video to your blog and share it to Facebook and your other social networks. Singlegrain has a great rundown of Periscope and it’s value to a small business.
8. Use hashtags to extend your reach.
Facebook was a bit late to the game when they finally enabled hashtag use in 2013. They received an uneasy reception at the time but they’re pretty well accepted now. Hashtags are searchable across all of Facebook so they can extend the reach of posts far outside of your page’s fans. When your yoga studio uses the hashtag #feelgooddogood or #yogaforlife, it potentially reaches everyone who looks at that tag no matter where they’re located geographically. If your yoga studio sells videos or an online class then they just reached a much larger group of potential customers. If they wanted to bump up class attendance at a physical location they could add another hashtag with their city and neighborhood like #SF, #Denver, or #UniversityHeights.
A rule of thumb is to keep the hashtags to a minimum and use only 2 or 3. This keeps your posts focused on content and makes sure that they don’t look spammy. Keep your hashtags memorable and for a bump use the same hashtags on other social networks too.
9. Keep track of your competition.
Spying on your competitors can be a great way to find out if what works and what doesn’t in your market. You can dissect their posts to see which are performing the best and why. Watching others in your same niche also can help you keep on top of what’s happening in your market and industry. You can’t be all places at all times. We can use our competitors as reporters on the ground to keep us up to speed.
If you’re relatively inexperienced or just new to social media, you can take cues from your competition about what works and what doesn’t. See how they handle criticism on their page.
Facebook’s native tool
Facebook has a built in tool in the Insights section of your page admin screen called “Pages To Watch”. You can select 5 to 100 pages to track and compare them with yours. Facebook will show you their fan growth, engagement, and activity right next to the same stats for your page. You can then visit those pages to see what they’ve been up to.
Beware of the very pushy and very obvious “buy an ad to keep up with the competition” message. Pushing up ad sales is probably the agenda for Facebook to include this feature. Ads are great but they’re not the only answer to extending reach and building engagement.
Third party tools to track competition
In addition to Facebook’s offering, there are some really great third party tools like SEMrush and Rival IQ. Both of these will monitor your competitors on Facebook and pretty much everywhere else they are online. In addition to competitor monitoring, you’ll be able to track trending topics by keyword and use those metrics to develop your future content and posts.
10. Advertise on Facebook.
An ad can be a shot of adrenaline to your Facebook presence. There are some general guidelines for a successful Facebook ad.
Facebook offers three ad types:
Desktop News feed, Mobile News feed, and Right Sidebar. If you have an Instagram account, you can also schedule those ads through Facebook’s Ad Manager. When you set up your ad, you can create all of them for one price and see which performs best.
There is some evidence that the news feed ads perform better than those on the right sidebar. Evidence aside, right sidebar ads may work better for you, your product, or your market. If you set a spending cap on your Facebook ads then you can run a lot of budget conscious experiments to see what’s working best for you.
Make your ad image interesting
This is your number one priority. There’s a lot of elements competing for attention on Facebook.
Your target audience’s attention is getting pulled in dozens of different directions. (screenshot identifying notifications, trending, chat sidebar, friends status updates, news stories, sponsored posts, news feed ads, right side ads.)
There’s not a perfect type of image even though there are some who claim that there is. Choose images that will compete well among all these distractions. Use contrast to set your ad apart. Contrast doesn’t necessarily mean brighter, more colorful or flashier. What ads will work best doesn’t have to be guesswork.
This is not an area to cut corners or try to save money. You want your images to grab attention. Without getting the reader’s attention first, no one will click your ad. You’ll want a designer to create these for you. If you’re not a designer and you absolutely can’t afford one, tools like Canva can help (at least for inspiration). My only trouble with these tools is that they can be a bit too “design-y” and won’t remind you that your goal is to get clicks on your ad – not admiration.
Write a compelling title and description
After you have their attention, you have to tell them what they’re looking at. This is where your title comes in. Facebook severely limits the length of an ad’s title and description. You’ll have to be direct and concise. This is good! That mean’s you’ll need to reduce your message to it’s most essential parts.
Don’t go for flash.
Facebook can be a great opportunity to engage your existing fans and reach out to new ones. Follow these best practice examples. Then start your own experiments. Gather real world experience about what works and what doesn’t.
This was a big post with a lot of information. If you have any questions, you can reach me with my contact form.