Chances are, if you’re a small business or non-profit, you’re doing some Facebook marketing. As the world’s most popular social media platform, it’s likely your audience spends some time there every day.
But like many other marketers, you may be struggling with how to build a fan base, engage your audience, turn fans into customers, all while running your small business.
If that’s the case, read on! This article will help you optimize your Facebook marketing so that you can build your business.
1. Create balance in your Facebook marketing.
There are four quadrants to successful Facebook marketing:
- Networking: This is you networking. Having a personal profile and sharing updates with your network. For many people, especially those who didn’t grow up with social media, this is a unnerving thought. While you can definitely succeed on Facebook without being active as a person–as opposed to your business–there are many things people can do on Facebook that companies can’t. Crank up your privacy settings and prepare to engage. 😉
- Marketing: This is what you do from your business page. Building a fan base, creating compelling content, and engaging your fans.
- Advertising: Sadly, yes. If you want to make a splash and increase your visibility, you’ll need to spend some advertising dollars here. You never complained about spending advertising dollars for TV, radio or print, so why Facebook? (OK, maybe you did complain, but you still did it.)
- Insights: Facebook provides some pretty cool feedback on the content you’re sharing…how often are you checking it out?
2. Create a compelling profile.
Your profile on Facebook is a great place for people to get to know you. Here’s where you should focus your attention:
- Profile picture (a.k.a. your avatar or “av”): If you’re going to use Facebook for professional networking, lose the picture of your dog, your favorite sports team, or that party photo where your friend’s arm is draped over your shoulder but he or she is cropped out. And smile! We want people to think you’re friendly. 🙂
- Cover photo: Choose something that represents you or your personal brand. Sometimes I use a photo that shows me presenting, other times shots from my favorite ski mountain, Sugarloaf. (Maine is part of who I am.) Remember that every time you change your cover photo the update appears in your network’s newsfeed, increasing your visibility.
- About page: The more you share, the more likely you are to make connections with old friends and new acquaintances. Complete this section as completely as possible.
3. Find friends.
Head on over to the Find Friend Browser and search for connections based on your hometown, current city, high school, mutual friends and more.
Pro Tip: when reaching out to new contacts, always send a message along. Whether it’s an old college buddy or a friend of a friend who you want to connect with, a personal touch goes a long way towards getting a positive response.
4. Be engaging.
I mentioned before that there are a number of advantages that personal profiles have over business pages. Here are a few:
- Like, comment on, & share friends’ activity: Spend a few minutes between phone calls or meetings in your Facebook newsfeed catching up on your friends’ activity. A like goes a long way, and a comment goes even farther.
- Chat friends up: A quick chat with a far away friend (or even a neighbor) can shore up weak ties of engagement. Your business page can’t do that.
- Tag friends in photos: When I posted pictures from our Agents of Change Digital Marketing Conference as the event, I then went in as Rich Brooks and tagged my friends who appeared in the photo. That way they would be alerted, and both they and their friends could comment on the photos. Which of course increased the visibility of my conference. #bwahaha
Now, let’s move from networking to marketing…
5. Build a “home base” for your business.
Like your personal profile, you need to have an engaging place for people to learn more about your business. As you’re building up this presence, here’s what you should focus on:
- Choose the right cover photo: At 851 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall, your cover photo sets the stage for your brand. Just remember that you can’t have any calls to action, like “like us” or “visit our website” as part of that cover photo.
- Maximize your avatar: Facebook recommends you choose an image that’s 200 x 200, even though it’s resized down to 160 square on your business page. Keep in mind, though, that it shrinks down to 50 pixels square in the newsfeed, and only 32 square on updates and comments. In other words, use a simple image that is recognizable even at 32 pixels.
- Vanity URL: Make sure you have an address like http://www.facebook.com/flytenewmedia rather than a long string of numbers. It’s easier to share and it’s “purtier.” You can get your Facebook Vanity URL here.
- Custom tabs: I used to say that you really needed to focus on creating beautiful custom tabs to engage your page visitors, but Facebook is currently revamping custom tabs and may reduce them to text links, so hold off on any changes right now.
Social Media Examiner does a great job of branding their Facebook page.
6. Get into the newsfeed with EdgeRank.
Stats show that only 4% of your fans will ever return to your business page.
Pathetic, huh? So how do you stay in front of them?
You need to be where they are, and on Facebook it’s all about the newsfeed. However, not all of your updates appear in the newsfeed or get seen by your fans. Why is that?
Facebook uses an algorithm called “EdgeRank” that determines what people see in their newsfeed. There are three known variables that affect your EdgeRank:
- Affinity: How much a person likes your brand, based on recent interactions. The more they interact, the more likely Facebook is to show them more content from you. By the way, likes show some affinity, comments show more, and shares show the most.
- Weight: How much other people have liked a particular update from you. If a lot of people have engaged with a post, Facebook is more likely to show it to your fans.
- Decay: The most depressing way ever of saying that after a while it’s no longer news.
So, how do you use this information? Create engaging content and post it regularly to your page.
7. Create content that encourages engagement.
Currently photos have some of the best engagement of any type of content for most businesses. That’s probably because we’re all so visual and images “pop” in our newsfeed, begging for attention.
Asking questions that require a short answer can also increase your engagement. “How do you take your coffee?” or “Describe your perfect vacation in ten words or less,” are good examples.
The Saco Drive-In offers frighteningly good engagement.
8. Create and market events on Facebook.
Events are a great way to reach a wider audience on Facebook. Your events can be physical (like a wine tasting), virtual (like a webinar), or completely imaginary (like a worldwide nap.)
From your business page create the event, and then share it with your personal network through invitations.
Increase the reach through advertising or asking friends to share the event on their own wall.
9. Use mobile to take your Facebook marketing to a new level.
Download the Facebook Pages app for your smart phone. Setup notifications so that your phone gives you an alert whenever anyone interacts with your page. That way you can answer questions or address problems with incredible speed, building loyalty with your fans.
But what happens when marketing just isn’t enough to move the needle?
10. Advertise on Facebook.
Brands just don’t get the engagement they used to on Facebook. To reach a wider audience you’re probably going to need to spend some dollars on ads.
The good news is that Facebook offers some amazing targeting options so your ads only appear in front of your ideal customers, and you only pay when they click on them.
For more information on advertising on Facebook for pennies, check out this great article called Grow Your Facebook Fans Fast, Cheap & Ethically.
And for an overview of all the Facebook ad types, read Every Type of Facebook Advertising and How to Use Them.
11. Check your Insights.
You can’t improve your Facebook marketing without feedback and metrics. Luckily, Facebook Insights provides this information.
You can access your page’s Insights by clicking on the Insights graph on your business page (among other places.) Once in there you can see each story (update) and the level of engagement it received. Some of the stats include:
- Reach: How many people saw it.
- Engaged Users: How many people clicked on your story.
- Talking About This: How many people liked, commented or shared your story.
- Virality: A word my spellcheck hates. Also, the percentage of people who saw your story and took action.
12. Remember that Facebook is not an island.
You should integrate Facebook with the rest of your digital marketing. Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about:
- Add a Facebook Like button to your blog posts and articles. Make it easy for visitors to share your content with their Facebook network by including a social share button.
- Use a Like Box on your website or blog. Show how popular your page is and which of your visitors’ Facebook friends are already fans by installing a like box. Visitors can like your page without leaving your site.
- Use Facebook comments on your blog. This allows people to comment with their Facebook login on your blog. Although this may dissuade non-FaceBookers from commenting, it does improve the quality of conversation, since you get fewer trolls when everyone can see who they really are. 🙂
13. Prepare for the end of Facebook.
You need an escape plan. Here’s what I recommend: use personal networking, marketing and advertising to drive fans and prospects to an email capture page.
You’ll need to create some sort of email bait to encourage signups, but building your list is the most important activity you can undertake at Facebook.
When you market on Facebook you’re working someone else’s land; when you build your list you’re building your business. [Click to tweet!]
Hopefully you found this helpful. If any of these tips were helpful please consider sharing this post with a friend on your favorite social network. We’ve even included sharing buttons to make it as easy as possible for you!
Or, if you have a Facebook tip you want to share, let me know by leaving a comment below.