It seems like everyone and their grandmother has a Facebook account these days. This is good news for businesses that want to reach a wide audience, and leveraging Facebook has never been a better strategy for achieving online marketing success.
When you consider that Facebook has over 1 billion users and more than 600 billion unique visits per month, it is, without a doubt, the dominant player in social media. For a business, this means an incredible opportunity to build an audience and promote products and services.
13 Ways to Leverage Facebook
1. Create a Facebook Profile
Businesses, like individuals, can create Facebook profiles. This is where to start when you have committed to leveraging Facebook for online marketing. A profile is your identity on Facebook so it makes sense to be strategic when developing it. Your cover image and profile photo are key components of your profile and set the stage for your brand on Facebook. You will also want to edit your settings, add additional photos and videos, and provide your location (if you have a physical place of business) phone number, and website URL. Facebook has a substantial amount of helpful information to guide you as you set up your business profile.
Let’s face it. We’ve all seen uninspired business Facebook pages. Boring and bland isn’t going to bring you in more customers. If your website was written to be professional, you should consider Facebook the place to showcase your business’s personality and spirit.
One of the best ways to infuse some excitement into your page is to use a customized landing page that encourages likes before readers hit your Facebook main page (also called a wall). These pages can be an extremely beneficial tool for increasing likes and strengthening your online identity, and they’re relatively easy to create. There are many online tools to help you design a page, or a Facebook developer can help, typically at a relatively inexpensive price.
3. It’s All about the “Likes”
Generating “likes” is a primary goal when leveraging Facebook for marketing purposes. And, there are three ways to get them.
4. Online Content
Content is anything that you share online for the purpose of educating or marketing to your customers and potential customers. This includes written content, videos, photos, contests and promotions. Great content can be a tremendous asset when it comes to building your number of Facebook fans. There’ll be more about content development and sharing later in this article.
5. In-Person Promotion
Whether you have a brick and mortar retail shop or connect with customers at trade shows, the best time to get a customer or prospect to “like” your Facebook page is when you’re in front of them. Why? They’ve already shown that they’re interested in your business, and you can ask them outright to “like” you.
6. Print Collateral
If you are one of those businesses that still generates sales via print advertising, direct marketing, brochures, sales sheets, or other type of printed item, you can easily encourage readers to like your business by mentioning that you’re on Facebook. To get them to “like” you is as simple as adding a QR code to your design. This scannable information code can be used by anyone with a smartphone to instantly get to your Facebook page.
7. Start Building Your Fan Base
With a business Facebook page set up and ready to use, the next step is to invite your friends to “like” it. With 25 fans, you can create a vanity URL, e.g. facebook.com/yourbusiness. Remember, the goal is to build “likes” so don’t be bashful when it comes to encouraging your friends and family to show their appreciation for your business.
8. Get Ready to Post
Now, it’s time to begin sharing your content with your online Facebook community. Leveraging Facebook is truly about publishing regular posts and engaging with others.
One of the best ways to keep your Facebook marketing efforts organized is to create a content calendar. This can be just for Facebook, or it can be for your entire social media presence. The purpose of a content calendar is to help you keep your posts organized and flowing on a regular basis. It’s also a good way to determine what works and what doesn’t when you’re looking at the types of content you publish.
A thorough Facebook content calendar will include posts, links to content you’ll share, the date you posted the content, and where you shared this content (Twitter, Pinterest, your blog, etc.). By keeping this running log of what you’re doing on Facebook, you can stay organized and adapt your strategy as needed to maximize your ability to leverage Facebook.
With a content calendar in hand, you’re ready to start posting. Since Facebook success is truly about consistent in posting, it’s a good idea to set aside time each day for it. This can be used to publish posts, follow up on comments from others about posts, look at what others are doing within your community and check your analytics to determine if your Facebook efforts are effective in helping you achieve your online marketing goals.
9. Get Your Customers to Like You
Once you get into a regular routine with your business Facebook page, you’ll want to start focusing on getting your customers to “like” it. This can be done in a variety of ways.
First, consider your mailing list. This is probably your biggest resource for communicating with your customers. If you send out email blasts or online newsletters, you will want to encourage your readers to “like” your page. Include a link, and perhaps, even a promotion to encourage them to like the page.
Facebook links can also be added to email signatures, store windows, business cards, print collateral, and of course, your website and blog. Nearly every customer touchpoint is an opportunity to share the link to your Facebook page. The more you let your customers know that you’re on Facebook, the quicker your “likes” will increase.
10. Keep Building
Complacency is a surefire way to fail at Facebook. Instead, you’ll want to provide on a regular basis a stream of compelling content that educates, entertains, and engages your Facebook fans.
What is compelling content? This can be anything from a product demonstration video to testimonials and blog posts. Posts with videos and photos almost always do better in terms of engagement than those that are just words. And, engagement is definitely the name of the game when you consider that popular posts will show up on others’ newsfeeds. This can significantly broaden the reach of your brand.
Not sure what’s working and what isn’t? Facebook offers some very helpful analytics on your Insights page. You’ll definitely want to closely monitor this to help guide you in the types of posts to publish.
11. Contests and Promotions
Businesses that leverage Facebook to promote contests can dramatically increase their number of likes. Facebook recently changed their terms of service when it comes to contests making it substantially easier to create one. Previously, Facebook barred running promotions directly on a page and insisted on the use of third party apps for contests. This is no longer the case. Now, anyone can run a contest directly on their wall.
The only rule now is that the rules must be published. However, it’s important to note that Facebook contests that are too complicated can be laborious and very time-consuming. Writing rules, offering prizes, managing entries, and deterring scammers can make it a challenging endeavor. But, if you can tackle these challenges, you can often end up with hundreds, if not, thousands of new fans.
Businesses can also promote coupons, sales, discounts, and deals via a variety of Facebook applications. These can likewise be very successful and a smart strategy in an aggressive online marketing campaign.
12. Advertising on Facebook
Once you’ve been able to convert your customers into “likes” on Facebook, the next step is to reach potential new customers through targeted Facebook ads. These ads can target Facebook users by gender, location, age, employer, alma mater, keywords, connections, and more. There are also opportunities to reach the friends of your current fans by using Sponsored Stories.
One of the most common mistakes that businesses make is using Facebook ads to get direct sales. These rarely work because very few Facebook users are ready to make a purchase while they’re perusing the site. A much better approach is to build an ongoing relationship with prospects. Relationship marketing is focused on developing the long-term value of a customer, as opposed to instant sale. This can be accomplished by creating ads that are about informing, as opposed to selling. Ads can encourage users to become fans, obtain an ebook, or register for a free event. This is the way to get in the door with a potential new customer to eventually sell to them once the relationship has been established.
Unlike other online marketing programs such as Google AdWords, Facebook’s unique targeting capabilities enable marketers the ability to produce highly relevant ads that are targeted to a very select group – such as women, born on December 22nd, who went to Yale and are married. This targeting increases the conversion rate dramatically and keeps costs down.
Facebook ad targeting, it’s essential to have a good grasp of your market. This involves an exercise in defining the need that your business meets and developing a thorough understanding of your customer. Once you have the bigger and smaller pictures clearly spelled out, targeted ads can be much more effective.
Yes, Facebook ads cost money, and it’s easy to spend a lot by experimenting if you not quite sure what you’re doing. Instead, set reasonable budgets that enable you to advertise over the course of weeks and months. And, measure results by conversions as fans, comments, and likes, as opposed to direct sales.
Facebook offers their advertisers a variety of monitoring tools to gain insights into the ads that they are running. These include advertising performance, responder demographics, and responder profiles. You’ll be able to monitor clicks, click through rates, cost per click, actions, and action rates.
Perhaps, the most important aspect of Facebook ads is the ad copy. Before you write your first ad, evaluate your competition’s ads and others that catch your eye. Click on the ads and see what types of products and services are being marketed. This will help you better understand what types of headlines work, how you should be positioning your ads, and what call to actions will compel users to learn more about your business.
13. What about Mobile?
A large percentage of Facebook users are wielding smartphones, and because of this, it’s important to consider mobile marketing when you develop your Facebook marketing plan of action. In fact, Facebook is one of the top three ways people currently use their smartphones with the average user checking in 14 times a day. This is a big opportunity for a small business owner!
Facebook offers a variety of mobile marketing tools to help businesses expand their Facebook reach. These include a feature called Nearby that offers recommendations based on a user’s Facebook likes, check-ins, and tags and Facebook offers that work as virtual coupons for in-store and on-line offers. Facebook Promoted Posts can further boost mobile user engagement by turning posts into ads that show up on mobile news feeds for users.
Because so many of your fans will be using Facebook on their smartphones, taking a mobile-first approach to marketing is a smart idea. This means ensuring that photos and other forms of content are readable and relevant for users on-the-go.
For a small business owner, leveraging Facebook to get more customers and ultimately increase sales is a process that requires both strategy and ongoing management. While this can be time-consuming and even costly if you’re running ads, there can be big rewards for those businesses that do it right.