So you think your business is ready for Facebook?
Of course it is. There’s not even any thinking involved here. ‘Cause, like it or not, if you ain’t on Facebook, you’re missing the opportunity to connect with a lot of people. (By the way, I hope you’re not with the grammar police.)
That little blue “F” is everywhere and it’s the place where big brands, local businesses, schools, celebrities and everyone else hangs out. So you know you need to be there, but the question is; where should you begin?
While it’s true that Facebook can help you extend the reach of your marketing by connecting you with thousands of potential clients, it’s also true that many business’ Facebook pages are ineffective and actually hurt the image of the business by being boring and underdeveloped.
Businesses tend to jump on Facebook without a strategy, start a page, update it for a little while, link to it from their company website, and then give up on their Facebook pages because they don’t see immediate success with them. However, even after they’ve given up on their Facebook pages, the links from their company website to the page often remain, linking to a desolate Facebook page with a tiny following that has not been updated in ages. These forgotten Facebook pages do a real disservice to a business.
You Need a Strategy
Before jumping onto Facebook just because everyone else is doing it, you need to understand what social networking is, what it is not, and how to approach it. In other words, you need a strategy. And keep in mind that the strategies that will be discussed in this series of articles will focus primarily on Facebook, but could also be applied to other social networks like Twitter or Google+.
The strategy should include the following steps:
In this post, we will cover planning. Sticking to the strategy will ultimately determine if you win or lose on Facebook.
Step 1 – Planning
Below are some vital things to consider as you are preparing to dive into marketing your business on Facebook.
The Big Idea
To have an impact on any social network you need to understand one essential point; the main goal of people on social networks is to engage in conversation. That means a conversation with each other, with the brands they love, with the celebrities they follow and with the sports teams they’re fanatical about. They want to connect.
And while that is the main goal of individual people on social networks, the main goal of a business or a brand on those social networks is to establish authority. And you accomplish that by sharing your expertise through valuable content. If people find your content valuable, they will be happy to connect with your brand and spread the word, becoming brand ambassadors.
People are drawn to personalities and Facebook gives you a great opportunity to show the personal side of your company. Build a personality for your company, and your customers and prospects on Facebook will naturally be drawn to you. And as your authority grows, you can have more influence on your followers.
Listen First – Begin by Gathering Information
To start on Facebook, you’ve gotta do your homework. Develop a list of companies that are similar to yours who are successful on Facebook and observe their interaction with their customers and prospects. You’re not trying to copy, though, you’re just learning through observation. Take note of what works and what doesn’t work.
Take note of:
- What type of content they are posting: images, videos, links?
- What content is getting the best engagement? The worst?
- What are clients/prospects saying? What is the tone?
- How are these companies dealing with negative feedback?
- How often are they posting content?
- How are they integrating their company website content with Facebook?
I recommend a week or two of just observing to get used to the idea and the pace of Facebook. The bonus is that you get to feel like a spy while you do this!
While you are observing, you will begin getting ideas about the type of content you should be posting, keeping in mind your goal is to establish your brand’s authority by providing valuable content.
Remember that your Facebook page is an extension of your brand’s personality and you will want to choose what kind of persona and voice your brand is to have. Is it fun? Is it serious? Would your brand be hanging out with teens after school playing video games or would it be at the gym working up a sweat after a hard day at the office? Whatever type of persona and voice you decide you want your brand to have, communicate it on Facebook. Be human. Be transparent. Show emotions. And as much as possible, act like you would act in a face-to-face conversation.
And be consistent. Don’t start off with your brand being super serious one week and then turning around and being completely zany the next. And also be consistent with the number of posts you put up per day or week. Pace yourself. You don’t want to start off strong for a couple of weeks and then have a huge drop-off. People will start to expect a certain number of posts from your brand per week and if it drops off, they may lose interest and your followers will drop off.
Think about your audience and get a feel for them. Brainstorm some ideas that will appeal to their possible interests and start creating content lists. (More on creating ideas for posts in the next segment in this series).
When you are getting started, this is a good time to determine who will be responsible for executing your Facebook strategy, meaning figuring out who will be posting content and monitoring and responding to conversations. This point is often overlooked. Consistency is required on Facebook to achieve any considerable result so that means it’s best to have a dedicated team – even if it’s just you – to post on Facebook to make sure the brand’s voice is consistent. If you don’t have a designated person or team responsible for executing your strategy you run the risk of joining the thousands of other ineffective pages on the social networking scrap heap.
And remember to be patient. Growing your influence on Facebook takes time.
Just like with everything else you set out to do, set realistic and measurable goals. There’s no use in setting sky-high goals and getting discouraged. Start with simple goals like determining how many followers or “Likes” you want to get by a specific date and always know what you are hoping to accomplish through your efforts.
Set a number on how many posts you want to put up in a day. How many interactions, comments and shares you’d like to see in a day and work toward getting those. As you get more experienced and as you grow your Facebook influence and garner a following, your goals will evolve to increasing sales, increasing website traffic and increasing brand exposure/awareness.
But to start off, keep in mind that it takes time to achieve results on Facebook. Patience and consistency are the keys.
Facebook is ideal to spread the word about your brand. Connect with others by sharing valuable content and they will be happy to connect and spread the word. To achieve this, you need to implement and execute a strategy.