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Using Facebook as an Effective Marketing Tool

Provide Value

Why do people 'like' your page? What value do they get from subscribing to your news feed.

The best part about Facebook for a business is it provides you with a willing and interested audience. The people who like your page have explicitly stated that they want to know what your business is up to.

As with a successful website, a Facebook page should be founded in strong calls to action. Sometimes that call to action will be to visit a page on your website. Other times it may be to fill out a survey or sign a digital petition. While sometimes, it's simply to encourage the user to interact with a post by commenting, liking, or sharing.

The key is to create content which inspires your readers to use Facebook to express their opinion, while at the same time giving credibility and/or visibility to your business.

Valuable content can come in several forms:

  • Content that directly impacts the reader
    • News that affect your readers' lives
    • Upcoming events your readers would be interested in
    • Information about a product or service you office which a reader uses.
    • Changes in your company policies
  • Information that is of interest to the reader, has vested interest in, or holds a particular opinion in.
    • Information, links, and images that relate to a readers interests or hobbies
    • News and opinions about current events that impact your business's industry
    • Ask for feedback from readers on how they use your product or service

While having guidelines and general ideas for posts is a great way to create consistently beneficial content, it is an ever-evolving processes. As you make posts, you will be able to evaluate how your users feel about your posts based on your insights (see below). So it's important to remember that the above list will change as you make posts and are able to determine what is valuable and what is not to your readers.

Develop Message/Voice

Consistency is King. Provide planned posts in a single voice.

It is important for a business to maintain a consistent voice and message in their Facebook posts. Should the reader be meant to assume that it's the business itself speaking, or an individual writing on behalf of the business? Is the narrative highly professional, light hearted/casual or a mixture of the two?

Another important aspect to message and voice is frequency and consistency of posts. Ideally, you want to make about 3-4 posts per week. This of course may change as you dive deeper into your insights though (See Below). A key to this is being consistent with the amount you post. If you make a post every other day, try to stick to that schedule.

While the frequency of your posts should be consistent, the topics should rotate, giving a sense that your business is shaping a well-rounded digital community.

Attain a Following

Gaining 'likes' can take a while, but you will find that it has a cascading affect; Likes will grow at an exponential rate as more and more people interact with your page. The great part about social media is that you only have to do some of the legwork. A lot of the attention your page gets will be directed by the users who support you. Use their enthusiasm for your business to help grow your own numbers.

For starters, go for the easy likes; The friends you already have. Reach out to your network of friends (both online and in the real world), family and business relations and encourage them to like your page. Then have everyone who works at your company do the same.

Here are a few methods for attaining likes, and some suggestions on how best to utilize these avenues:

  • Direct invites
    • Spend time sending direct links (to your Facebook page) to people you know and encourage everyone who works with you or at your company to do the same. This can either be done through a message on Facebook or a direct post to someones wall.
  • Passive invites
    • Make posts and encourage followers to “Share this page/post”. This will make a post on your own wall. You will want to use some sort of verbiage like “Please take a moment to tell your friends about [my business]!” with a link to the Facebook page.
  • External links to Facebook
    • Use a digital newsletter to drive traffic to your Facebook page
    • Create a news/blog article on your website talking about your social community with a link to your Facebook page
    • Add links on your website and digital publications to your Facebook page
    • Ask businesses and individuals who you partner with to help promote your page by adding links on their website or digital publications
  • Ads - The Ads feature in Facebook is VERY powerful. It allows you to create a pay-per-click ad which can be targeted to specific demographics. For example, lets say you own a pie shop and know that your target demographic is middle-aged women, you could create an ad which is specifically shown to women who live within 50 miles of your store, between the ages of 35 and 50, and who have listed as interests “pies”, “baking”, and “holiday cooking”. Since facebook has already done the legwork of putting people into marketable categories, creating ads that perfectly fit your target market is easy and effective.

  • Shares/comments/likes
    • Create posts which encourage interaction. - When a user interacts with your page, it will show up on their feed. So THEIR friends will see that they made that post, and hopefully take interest in your page as well.
      • For example, a post could be about your new website – Ask readers what they think of the new design and features.
      • Another example, lets say you're running a campaign where users can sign up for your newsletter for a chance to win a prize. Encourage readers to not only participate, but share your post with their friends.
  • 'Like' Goals - Create goals which users can complete by sharing your page, liking your posts or commenting.
    • For example, for every 500 likes, you will donate X dollars to a charitable foundation. Make this VERY public information and encourage your followers to share your page with their friends to help reach the goal.
      • For example, for every 500 likes, you will donate X dollars to a charitable foundation. Make this VERY public information and encourage your followers to share your page with their friends to help reach the goal.
        • You can make extended goals too – For example, Once you reach 2,000 likes you will throw a big fan appreciation party.
      • You can make extended goals too – For example, Once you reach 2,000 likes you will throw a big fan appreciation party.

Using Insights

Insights is perhaps one of the most useful tools at your disposal for creating, adjusting and promoting meaningful content. It gives you detailed information on your following, and their various interactions with your posts.

The Insights section is broken up into 4 main sections. See below for what information is important from each:

  • Overview - Provides basic information on how your page is being interacted with, a history on how you've used it and what information has been effective.
    • The most important part of the overview section is the Page Posts section. It is a breakdown of all your posts. It gives you a few extremely key values which are invaluable for making future posting decisions.
      • Reach - How many people saw the post. This is a really good stat to pit against the time and day of the post. Overtime, you may find that when you make posts at 9:00am, over a hundred people saw the post but when you post at 7:30pm, only 30 people did. This will help you make decisions on your posting schedule and frequency.
      • Virality - This stat shows you what percent of the people who saw your post interacted with it. A stat for engaged users is also provided, but it doesn't really provide any context, unlike the Virality value. This will be the best way of determining what kind of posts are effective and which ones are not. To best use this statistic, look for the posts with a high Virality Percent and try to figure out why THAT post was affective, while another post with a low % did poorly. This will greatly help you hone your messaging.
    • Likes - Provides Basic demographic information for people who LIKE your page. By understanding WHO is reading your posts, you will be able to adjust your messages and content to encourage the most number of likes and shares.
    • Reach - Provides basic demographic information for people who SEE your posts. Why is this different from likes? Because When someone who likes your page posts about you, or comments on something you did, it will show up in their feed. THEIR friends will then see the post, providing a whole new range of demographic information.
      • This is very useful because it gives you some idea of who you could potentially target, if different from your existing main demographic.
    • Talking about this - Outlines the people who are actively sharing your posts and talking about your business. This section will give you a good idea of the kind of posts people are sharing, and what sort of things people are saying about your company on their own (this is tracked by people making a post and tagging your business's Facebook page.).

Grow & Maintain

Retention is the new acquisition. Spend time and focus giving attention to your existing community, and they will help you grow without you even trying - AKA 'Word of Mouth'.

One of the best pieces of social media is the ability for ever-day consumers to voice their opinions and speak directly with/at an organization. This also provides the business the opportunity to respond in a very personal manor with either existing or prospective clients/customers.

Facebook is a great place to encourage your readers to ask questions, post stories and share ideas with your company. The key to making this work is your response as a business. Anytime someone posts about your business, or posts on your Facebook page, take the time to respond. Give a thoughtful, but short and meaningful response to the question or comment. This gives the user sense that they are not only being heard but responded to. When dealing with large organizations, this is vitally important for many users and often if they have a good experience with a direct conversation with a business, the very next thing they do is tell their social network about that good experience.

Related Story: In response to staggeringly low customer satisfaction ratings, Comcast developed a social plan in which they actively searched for people posting negative statuses or tweets about Comcast. They would then directly contact that person with a big discount on their next bill and an apology. Those customers then went BACK on their social networks and gushed about how great Comcast was for recognizing and responding to their complaint - thus improving the overall image of Comcast.

The moral of this story is that the closer attention you pay to your existing audience, the more they will work for you in generating likes and readership. On the flip-side of the same coin, a user-base can break you as fast as they make you. Always give them a reason to walk away happy, especially in a social setting.

Maintaining your existing audience and encouraging them to help you grow can take a while, but in the long run will provide you with more likes than almost any other method.

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