Despite frequent sensationalist headlines about the demise of Facebook, it has an ever-growing user population. For a business, Facebook is one of the easiest ways to communicate directly and efficiently with its current and potential customers. Communication between businesses and consumers has never been this easy, but it’s now expected that businesses respond quickly and efficiently via direct message from Facebook. Some businesses may feel that they don’t have the time to keep track of it all or that it just isn’t worth what they put into it. But Facebook has over 1.4 billion monthly users. Can you afford to miss all the opportunities that arise from communicating your message to this audience?
Although it may seem like a daunting task, you can break it down, schedule in advance, and outsource if needed. All it takes is a little know-how and some effort to get started, and you can see some real improvements. Here are four steps to using Facebook effectively for your business.
Know Your Demographic
Before you expand your Facebook presence, you need to take a look at who your target audience is and make sure that there is an ample amount of users within your target demographic. Right now, Facebook is trending higher with the age grouping of 25-44. Although the younger age groups may have accounts, they tend to view Twitter and Instagram more frequently. According to a Pew Study, 71 percent of American adults who use the internet are on Facebook. This is a huge opportunity to grab ahold of consumer attention without completely breaking your bank. Thinking through who your potential customers are, and what they are most likely to respond to online, will help you keep engaging content on your page.
Be Ready to Respond
Depending on your settings, Facebook allows users to contact your company page directly and to post questions and comments publically. That means you need to be ready to respond quickly to questions, service needs and complaints. To earn Facebook's Very Responsive badge, you must respond to 90 percent of messages within 15 minutes. Note that this is measured over just the last seven days, so responding quickly now is important, even if you haven't done it in the past. Earning this badge certainly isn't essential, but it demonstrates what other companies are doing and that raises the bar for all of us, as it changes your customer's expectations. If you are a managing the page alone, ensure your mobile alerts are set up so you can respond on the go. Consider an auto response if you know you'll be away during certain hours of the day. This could include a link to an FAQ page or other helpful resources like hours or your store's phone number.
Post the Right Content
The biggest mistake that businesses make on their social media is just trying to sell, sell, sell. If all you do is make post after post about why someone should buy what you’re selling, you’re likely to push potential customers away. So what should you post instead? Quality content. Instead of just giving your quick pitch day after day, share content that increases engagement from your audience.
Simple ways to do this are contests or giveaways, interesting media such as pictures or videos, or even questions asking your audience what they like about your business. As an example, let’s just say that my business sells coffee. If all I do is make a post every day that says. “Hot coffee, $1.99,” it won’t do very well in keeping people interested. Instead, I should be posting unique content about where we get our beans from, who drinks our coffee, and why it is different. This is an oversimplified example, but you get the point. All of this quality engagement will slowly build brand loyalty from your followers. In an age with so many different options on whom to do business with, wouldn’t you like to stand out in the crowd? This isn’t to say you should never post about your business. Facebook is also a great way to keep consumers updated on any major announcements, opening and closing hours, and even new business developments such as a new product. The key is to not overload them with a sales pitch. Communicate with your audience the way you would want to be communicated to.
Learn to Make Facebook Ads
Now you’re posting the right content, but what if you don’t have as many followers as you want? Facebook is essentially a pay-for-play platform now. Posting content that isn’t promoted or in the form of an ad will only be seen by a very small percentage of your followers. The good news is that Facebook has a user-friendly system that will help you create a personalized ad. With their targeted ads, you can advertise specifically to the group of people you want. Whether you want to target a specific gender, age group, or people with a certain interest, it’s all very possible. This allows you to save money rather than advertising to everyone like you do with traditional media. In fact, the average Facebook ad in 2014 only cost $7.29 per one thousand impressions, according to DMR Statistics. With that sort of targeted reach, the possibilities are endless.
A perfect example of how specific you can get is our client, Prologue, a company that sells fire logs made from 100 percent hickory wood shavings. You might be surprised to find out that you can narrow down your advertisements to people who are interested in fire pits. That’s right, fire pits have their own segment. With traditional advertisements, sometimes it’s hard to know how many relevant people have seen your ad, but with Facebook, you can make sure that the people who see it have a direct interest in your information. It’s also easy to run A/B style ads and measure your clicks, interactions, and sales. Did the ad to women perform better than the one targeting men? Did the close-up photo of the fire pit perform better than the family sitting around a fire pit? You’ll have all the data needed to direct your advertising.
Facebook also makes it easy to see how well your ads are doing by providing analytics and feedback. They’re always finding new ways to provide their customers with more information, so account holders can best use Facebook’s advertising systems. In particular, Facebook just rolled out plans to work with 3rd party companies to improve its measurement tools. The point of this will be to help you measure the effectiveness of your ads by monitoring both online and in-store purchases.
Facebook Ads vs. Boosted Posts
Facebook also allows you to “boost” one of your posts. Doing so will increase the number of people who see this post, whether it’s your followers and their friends or a group of people you’ve targeted by their demographics. As you might expect, this comes at a price. The rates for boosted posts are fixed, and you can spend as little as five dollars. However, you get what you pay for with Facebook.
So when should you use a boosted post versus an ad? Boosted posts are best used in situations where you have put out some sort of significant content, such as a video, picture, or a link. This gives you a better avenue to reach people and increase engagement than an ad on the side of their page. Just think of it from a user perspective. If you’re scrolling down your page and there’s a video, you’re much more likely to pay attention to it than to an ad on the side. They both have unique functions based on their capabilities and usage, so it really depends on your situation and what your goals are. To make this easier, check out this chart from Frank Media about the pros and cons of each.
A key aspect of marketing is finding your audience and telling them your story. With all of its features and functions, Facebook allows you to do that in a way that has never been done before. Whether it’s through the content on your page or through an ad you’ve created, you can now choose to what degree you want to promote yourself.
Consider what benefits and drawbacks this ever-changing platform can offer you and your marketing dollars as we approach 2017. With a targeted approach, your social media can continue to benefit your growth next year!
Smith, Craig. Facebook Advertising Statistics and Facts. DMR 2016. http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/facebook-advertising-statistics/
Karlson, Karola. TOP Facebook Updates That You Can’t Afford to Miss. Adespresso 2016. https://adespresso.com/academy/blog/top-updates-facebook-monthly-need-know-now/
Duggan, Maeve. Demographics of Key Social Networking Platforms. Pew Research Center 2015. http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/09/demographics-of-key-social-networking-platforms-2/