Facebook is arguably one of the most popular and visited social networking platforms in the world, originally formed in 2004 by 2014 it had over ‘1 Billion active users’.
No matter what industry or sector you’re trading in, you’re target audience is likely to be present on Facebook, generally the average Facebook user logs into their account daily so this network should definitely be regarded as one of your top priorities.
Firstly sign up for a personal Facebook account if you haven’t already got one, a personal account is for you, it’s for individuals and not for businesses, it’s for non-commercial use so people can connect and interact with their friends and family. A personal account is what your customers and clients will have.
For businesses, celebrities, and organisations Facebook has a separate element for all of these entities, if you want to start a page for your business or brand you need to create a Facebook Page.
A Facebook page is similar to a personal page however it includes unique tools for brands and companies such as custom tabs for extra content, analytics to measure metrics such as page performance and advertising tools. Luckily for you, a Facebook page is free and doesn’t require a separate account from your Facebook personal page, you simply use the same log in details.
Creating a Facebook business page is easy, you can either click ‘Create a page’ at the bottom of any page, search for ‘Create a page’ in the search bar at the top of the website. Once you have created a Facebook page you’re then able to assign a custom URL, after you have received 25 likes. Facebook likes to call the custom URL feature a ‘Vanity URL’ – this is so you can direct your customers to a user-friendly link.
For example: www.facebook.com/YourName
You should then begin filling in all of your business information in the ‘about’ section. It’s important that you fill this information in correctly because it includes your name, address, category and contact details, including website detail and phone numbers. If you’re really savvy you can fill the about section with content rich keywords which can be great for search engine optimisation (SEO), all of the text in the about section is indexed by Google so make good use of the space provided.
It’s all well and good to use Facebook for business purposes, however to truly understand the latest trends, fads or fashions you need to be right in the mix yourself outside of your business page and on your own personal page.
This method allows you to see how your fans and potential customers are seeing your own business as well as what any rivals or competitors are doing. There’s no point spending hours and hours on a business page which has suddenly been left behind because the competitor has done something more impressive, engage like a customer to understand your customers.
Use a Simple Timeline Cover Image
You have heard the famous phrase ‘keep it simple’, well that’s certainly applicable for companies and sales professionals who want to add a jazzy timeline image.
The first thing people will see on your Facebook page is your timeline cover image, so using the correct image is extremely important. Generally the top social media gurus advise to keep it as simple as possible, keep it clean and use very little text. The idea is you don’t want to the person to click away before they have even seen any more of your content.
Some businesses include their logo and one or two smaller images, others opt for a logo and a background colour, whatever is best for you depends on your target market. If you’re aiming for a trendy industry have an image which appeals to them, likewise if you’re aiming for a conservative sector don’t rock the boat!
The ideal image size is 851 x 351 pixels, to keep your user base engaged change the your Facebook cover every so often, particularly when around certain holiday events, such as Christmas, Valentines Day, Halloween and so on. Some businesses like to include latest offers and events in their timeline cover, you can experiment with this and see what works best for you’re industry, just remember that Facebook doesn’t allow timeline covers which can be ‘misleading’ or infringement, don’t infringe on other peoples copyrights such as photographs, always use your own material, or material you have an official license to use.
When To Post New Content
A lot of businesses and sales professional post on Facebook during ‘traditional business hours’ why? Because it’s convenient FOR THEM, not for their customers.
As Facebook is a platform which is active 24 hours a day, your message could be missing on out a lot of potential customers, I highly recommend that you experiment by posting content onto your Facebook page during different times throughout the day and if necessary, even at night too.
If you’re attempting to attract the attention of a GLOBAL audience they could be fast asleep when you’re posting images of your new product! By the time they’re awake your content has slipped down their timeline and they never knew anything about it!
If you don’t want to stay up and post the content yourself, Facebook now offers a paid-for scheduling tool, which allows you to deliver content and updates at any time you request. It’s important to note, that when somebody sees your post they assume there’s somebody there at the other end, so if they leave a comment and you don’t reply (because you’re a sleep) this could be detrimental to your overall image and reputation.
Create Exclusive Content
Just like traditional selling, it can be a fantastic technique to make people want what they can’t have (or at least make it difficult). The idea behind this theory is to create content that’s exclusive to ‘fans’ only, i.e.. You can only access the content if you like the page, or you have already liked the page. Creating exclusive content in this way can also be known as ‘Like to Unlock’ and generally it certainly encourages more people to like your page so they receive the ‘unlocked’ the content.
The content that gets unlocked can range from discount codes for your web store, special videos, interviews and so on, to make this work you will need to add a custom tab to your business page and you can either create an external page and host it on your own server (if you know how) or use a pre-built existing apps, such as a static FBML app.
Increasingly over the past few years posts on social media have actually become less about the product and services a company or brand offers. Instead businesses are focusing on selling ‘lifestyles’ to their customers and creating value and content to re-enforce this notion.
For example, a well-known fashion store posts new music every Friday, it calls this feature ‘#MusicFriday’ – this clever marketing enables the company to reel in their target audience every Friday with new exciting content, thus making their own brand appear to be more exciting and ‘trendy’ than it actually is. The customer visits the page they may comment, like or interact while also browsing the other posts (which feature the brands products) at the same time.
Which Types of Posts are the Best?
Typically this answer can vary depending on the audience you’re targeting, marketing professionals disagree on whether text, imagery or videos actually engage and re-enforce messages to a brands user base. Certainly, graphic lead content can provide huge boosts and a surge of interest around specific events or products, on average a video or graphic will give a much more favourable result with engagements against a text comment.
However, it’s worth remembering that statistics aren’t always the best indication of whether your marketing is correct or not, generally we get hooked on stats and evaluate our position from there, it’s important to note that social media can differ from traditional primary marketing, you’re ultimate goal is to create loyalty and passion from your target audience. Create an environment which pulls them in and makes them connect to your company, product or brand much more naturally, this tactic will reap greater rewards in the future.
For some it can be a great strategy to post images or videos of their customers actually enjoying their products – this is known as ‘social proof’ – remember you’re attempting to create a loyal following so seeing other people with your product will automatically give you authority and trust.
It’s extremely easy to implement this plan, a lot of customers have smart phones or tablets with built in cameras, simply ask your user base for images (you could even give them a discount for any images used). Not only does it make your page look exciting and interesting, it will always increase your exposure as the customers in the photographs will experience five minutes of fame and share the content with their friends and family, everybody’s a winner.
YouTube Videos vs Facebook Videos
If you’re planning on using video content on your page, it can be a great idea to mix the platform in which you provide that content on.
For example, many videos are uploaded to YouTube which is a great video sharing platform, generally videos on YouTube give you greater presence in Google search results as the two companies are interlinked. Uploading a video to Facebook may give a better reach on the networking than simply linking from an external platform (such as YouTube).
Remember though uploading content alternatively between YouTube and Facebook can give different exposure levels and different results, and depending on your industry it may be a great idea to experiment with each platform, measure the impact of your campaign and plan accordingly.
I have even experimented with splitting a campaign across both platforms, for example a video is split between the YouTube platform and Facebook’s platform, the idea was to measure the how many people watched the first video (YouTube) and then visited the Facebook page to complete the campaign.
In some cases this can work really well – particularly if the second video is hidden behind a ‘like to unlock’ facility.
How to Use Images Effectively
Images are one of the most popular types of content which is shared by users on Facebook, along with videos they can be ultised in an array of various different situations. Generally it’s a good strategy to use powerful imagery which catches the attention of your target audience, images with captions can also lead to higher engagement rates than those without.
They say a picture says a thousand words so whats the point in explaining what you mean when you can show it? High quality images can be great for events, product launches, discounts and promotions, sometimes it can be a great tactic to ultise an image in a more creative and imaginative way.
For example, you have uploaded a photo of your latest event, you ask your fan base to find the gold watch in the photograph, the first person to do so will win a 20% off discount code for your online shop. As you can see this encourages further fan interaction and engagement with your brand, products and your page. The content will most likely get shared more easily between friends and families, generally higher value ‘prizes’ will return greater results.
Another great use of imagery is to create a customer testimonial, simply upload a photograph of a happy customer with a caption placed over the top ‘I’m really happy with the service I received! – Sally, London”. This can be a great tactic to use, however it’s always worth remembering that your fan base doesn’t want to be bombarded with testimonials or reviews, post a new testimonial once a month at the most!
If you would like to be more personal with your target audience then it can be a good idea to use the @mention function when replying to individual messages. Simply type @ and then begin typing the name of the person you’re replying to; their name should appear and you simply select it with your mouse or the tap of a finger.
An @mention can really make a customer feel special and wanted, it’s sometimes the personal touch which can really make a brand or sales professional stand out, great customer service is always something a customer will remember, no matter how good or bad a product is.
“Hello @Clare Smith – we’re really glad you loved you’re product! “
“Hello @Gordon James – you’re query has been past to our customer service representative, you should receive a reply within the hour”.
As you can see, an @mention can be extremely effective in managing both your page and your customers expectations, it’s certainly something I’d recommended ultising at the first possible opportunity.
Have a ‘Fan of the Month’
All brands and companies have ‘superfans’ – why not showcase these ambassadors in a monthly feature on your Facebook page. This incentive not only says thank you to the most loyal fan it encourages more people to engage and interact in the chance of becoming the ‘fan of the month’. You could offer a discount or a prize to the ‘winner’ – always remember to post a picture of the winner with their prize!
Do you have something to highlight to your fans? Have you won an award or have a promotion going on your online shop? Whatever the reason, it can be a great idea to utlize Facebook’s ‘pin’ feature.
Located at the top right hand side of each post you’re able to ‘pin’ the post to the top of your timeline. Please be aware that the pin expires every seven days, this enables you to ‘pin’ one new post every week.
When a fan engages with your page either by liking a picture, post, commenting and so on, each interaction can be seen by that fan’s friends on their own news feed. This can obviously be a great way to build exposure and awareness of both your page and your brand. You should attempt to ultize this powerful tool to your advantage, there are many ways in which you can get your fans to interact and engage with you, here are some fantastic examples:
1) Post interesting articles
2) Ask Questions
3) Post funny and interesting photos
4) Post ‘fill in the blank’ photos – “What is Henry doing here?
5) Upload behind the scenes video content
6) Upload videos from your latest event
7) Ask fans for their feedback
8) Interact with organisations in the local community
9) Ask your fans to take a picture of themselves with your product
10) Quiz your fans about THEIR interests
Generally the best Facebook pages post content that is LIKELY to encourage a conversation rather than attempt to SELL a product or service.
Remember to treat your fans like the people they are, remember they aren’t just a number or a ‘like’ – they have feelings and emotions, post something relevant that they care about and watch how your engagements sky rocket!
Reviews and Check Ins
One of the best features on any business page is the clever and innovative ‘Reviews’ and ‘Check-Ins’ – if you want to succeed on Facebook paying close attention to these features could be a real difference between success and failure.
You should attempt to get as many reviews and check-ins as possible, for some it can be a great idea to provide incentives whether that’s online or offline, you need to drive people to review your business as this can boost your exposure dramatically. Also, the more reviews you have, the more positively any potential customers will be about purchasing from you, like offline selling humans like to feel ‘safe’ when they’re purchasing a product or service.
If a new customer can see you have received a vast amount of reviews (and they are 4 or 5 stars) then they are far more likely to do business with you because they perceive you as a ‘safe option’. Ultimately, it’s up to you to use this psychological edge to your advantage and the only way you can do that is to make sure you’re giving your current customers a 5 out 5 service.
Facebook also allows you to offer ‘check in deals’ to customers who have checked in at a physical location, these deals can be great for generating brand awareness and encouraging shop footfall. There are four types of deals which you can create:
Individual deals (usually one-off offers)
Friend Deals (offers for groups of up to eight people)
Charity Deals (donation given to a charity of your choice – this happens everytime somebody claims your deal)
Loyalty Deals (this is typically awarded after a number of specified check-ins)
Currently Facebook only offers deal to a limited number of business types, to find out more about Facebook deals simply head to your page to see if you qualify.
Optimise Your Page For Graph Searches
First introduced to Facebook in March 2013, the graph search feature can increase your chances of being discovered by your target market. For example, when somebody wants to find something, whether that’s locally or nationally they simply type in what kind of business they want and in what location. Facebook then responds instantaneously will a list of results.
You can implement this feature by following the steps below:
1) Go to the about section on your business page and click on ‘edit’ – Choose local business for your category and then choose the type of business you operate from the list provided.
After this go to subcategories and choose up to three things which directly relate to your business, make sure the three things you enter cover as many possible bases as you can.
2) The vast majority of Facebook searches are for local businesses or local services, location is ultimately the key of being discovered.
If you want YOUR BUSINESS to show up when a potential customer types in “ (type of business) in (town / city) “ then make sure your business address is 100% correct.
Breaking News and Social Media
Have you ever wanted to get a quick message ‘out there’ to your target audience? Have a limited number of stock, or a quick flash sale? A big mistake many companies and sales professionals make on social media is consistently posting about themselves, be inventive and look for breaking news stories which RELATE to your company or and products you’re selling.
Interweave any major stories into your content so your target audience can relate much more easier to the items you’re selling (without them even knowing about it!).
For example, the government has just released official data that first-time buyers have increased in the past six months, as a housing sales professional you quickly link this news story to your portfolio of properties you’re attempting to sell.
Ask Other Page Owners For a Featured ‘Like’
Are you closely affiliated to another business or sales professional on Facebook? If so you can ultise this connection quite easily, on every business page there’s a section on the left-hand side towards the bottom of the page, this section is where the page owner can display other pages they already like.
You’re allowed to display as many pages as you want, however five or more pages will be displayed randomly each time the page refreshes. It can be a great idea to liaise with other page owners to have your page display in their featured section (sometimes this is also known as ‘pages liked by this page’).
Add a Facebook ‘Like Box’ to Your Website
If you want to encourage as many visits as possible to your Facebook page, then ultise Facebooks Like buttons and Like boxes from their developers section (visit https:// developers.facebook.com/ docs/ reference/ plugins/ like-box/ to find the Facebook Developers’ page).
Simply add the relevant information and remember to check both the ‘show faces’ and ‘show posts’ options – this adds both authority and worthiness to your page, meaning more potential customers may ‘like’ your page because other people are interacting with it. Embed the like button or like box into your websites sidebar or footer, generally it’s better placed in a sidebar as this will give it maximum exposure.
Don’t worry it’s not just Facebook who rules the social media waves, this website will also focus on other networks such as Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and more. Typically, it’s a good idea to focus on a handful of platforms rather than being on them all, do your research and prioritise your efforts towards the network your target market frequents often.