No business marketing strategy is complete without Facebook. The world’s largest social network gives your campaigns worldwide reach to potentially millions of people. According to a survey from Constant Contact, 96% of small businesses are on Facebook. If you’re in that 96%, fantastic — but are you getting the most out of it?
Social Media Examiner recently announced their list of the top 10 small business Facebook pages — the results of a contest that included 1,800 nominations representing more than 500 small businesses.
Let’s take a look at some of the key reasons why the winners were chosen, according to Social Media Examiner:
- Good visual branding with apps and cover photo.
- Excellent combination of posts on facts, images, and resources.
- Great fan engagement.
- Great use of discount promotion.
- Good variety of posts with fun and personality.
- Good use of call to action in posts to spark engagement.
- Good use of photos.
- Lots of shares.
- Nice-looking storefront and email opt-in.
- Outstanding engagement on page.
If you boil all these traits down, you get what I call the three C’s of Facebook. That is, a successful Facebook page for business requires three things: Connections, Content, and Conversions.
Build Loyal, Active CONNECTIONS
Connections are all about earning “likes” and attracting active, engaged fans who will comment and share information, and hopefully even become brand advocates for you. How do you do this? Provide something of value.
Got a great deal you want to share with your loyal fans? Promote an offer they can’t refuse. How about a special event? You can notify fans of events you plan, as well as other important industry events they may be interested in.
There should be a mix of “self-serving” updates and community-centric updates. Self-serving updates are things such as surveys on a new idea or product, or summarizing a press release in a status update. If fans feel they are only receiving these types of sales messages they will quickly tune out.
Community-centric updates, on the other hand, tell your customer why being part of your business matters. These status updates build on the idea that the customer is part of something larger than themselves, a cornerstone of all successful branding.
One excellent example is the Facebook page of George Bowers Grocery, a neighborhood grocery/café/beer garden in Staunton, Virginia. George Bowers Grocery updates fans with a combination of craft beer and community — people, events, even other businesses’ updates. They vary content ranging from photos, links, video, and audio. Your page should also narrowly focus on your community, whatever your niche and whatever your size.
As co-owner Katie McCaskey summarized in a post at the Content Marketing Institute, effective marketing using Facebook requires:
- Commitment to and clarity of your brand’s human voice.
- A creative approach to messaging that is predominately fan-centric.
- Direct interaction with and regular recognition of your fans and community (literally and/or figuratively).
- Curation of relevant, rotating, and shareable content.
- Demonstration of basic social skills (“please,” “thank you”) for fans’ valuable time, attention, and recommendation to others.
The more you connect with your fans and provide them something of value, the more likely they will be to become your customer and also your word-of-mouth advocate.
Create Useful, Interesting CONTENT
As Paul Dunay writes in a post at Business 2 Community, “Most fans won’t ever come back to a brand’s page unless they feel they have good reason to.”
Your Facebook page requires effort and commitment for best results. First, think about how you use Facebook as an individual. You read your friends’ recent posts, look for new pictures, “like” what you like, and make comments when you want to share your opinion. Keep in mind that your customers will do the same with your business’ content.
Also consider the types of content you’ll feature and the tone you want to set. The former should vary but the latter should be consistent. Whether your brand’s voice is cranky or sarcastic, funny or upbeat, you need to create — or curate — content that supports that voice and keeps fans interested and participating.
Here’s one thing that most Facebook business pages overlook: every “like”, “share,” or comment on your business page “votes” it higher up in your customer’s timeline. The technical term for this is Facebook’s “EdgeRank.” Notice how you rarely see the updates of pages you liked months ago, but frequently see the updates of people and pages with whom you regularly interact? Strive to produce and share content that will lend itself to interactivity. It is crucial for your page’s growth and success. It is also crucial if you’re expecting your content to convert into customers and sales.
Generate A Flow of CONVERSIONS
DJ Heckes writes for Score.org:
“Think of an unqualified lead as an unripe apple — it needs time and attention to grow but once this type of lead has been cultivated under your care, the fruit is yours to pick. Don’t let your ‘unripe’ leads dry and wither — place them on a special campaign wherein you nurture them until they ripen into customers.”
The main goal of all your effort on Facebook — like any marketing activity — is to generate conversions. Whether you want to turn Facebook fans into blog readers, newsletter subscribers, new customers or repeat customers, you need to make it easy and simple for people to complete the necessary actions to convert. Facebook itself has tons of helpful tools for this.
The most obvious is the comments. Not only will people tell you what they like, you will also hear a lot about what they do not like. That’s a terrific opportunity to engage them. (Remember that each interaction “votes” your page higher in that fan’s news feed!) You will get incredibly valuable insight into customer expectations and experiences, too.
Keep a sharp eye on your Facebook page every day. Be sure to sign up for an email alert whenever someone posts to your page so you can respond quickly. Set a notification by navigating to the upper right drop down arrow and select “account settings”. On the left-hand side navigation you’ll see “Notifications”. Select notification preferences by checking the appropriate boxes, shown below. You can also change the settings for individual pages if you manage more than one.
There are plenty of apps made for Facebook that make it easy to create “buy now” buttons, custom coupons, sweepstakes, contests, and much more. Many of them will make it easy for your fans to jump through cyberspace to your business’ website and become customers. It happens offline, too. You can use a Facebook page to drive attendance to a brick-and-mortar location, too.
Using Facebook to promote a business takes time and commitment. The social network is free to use but does require time. Yet, rewards accrue from investing just a small amount of time every day. If you use Facebook consistently and with your audience’s best interests in mind, you will be rewarded.
Unlike traditional marketing, your Facebook marketing results can be tracked — by the growth of fans and interactions, and the offline-conversations Facebook inspires. If your emphasis encourages interaction your Facebook marketing efforts can leverage the most powerful sales tool of all: word-of-mouth. Understand the value and you’ll be happy to put in the time required to obtain new customers and nurture your existing fans, too. Facebook marketing is a serious tool.