Reaching Through Facebook

Reaching Through Facebook

by: Dan Jeffers

Why Facebook?

Why should you invest time and money in Facebook?

Always start with the goals and the audience.

The easy answer is that everybody uses Facebook. Maybe not everyone, but most of your target audience. Not only are they using Facebook, they are spending a lot of time there.

71% of all online adults use Facebook. The network has 1.49 billion monthly active users, of which 968 million are active daily. The average person spends about 18 minutes on the site each time they visit. Most people spend at least 20 minutes per day on Facebook.

For some that might be the whole answer. A single platform that reaches that many people seems incredible. But for us there has to be more. Not everyone is just trying to reach the general public, and not all clients will be satisfied if a lot of visitors with little connection to their service “like” their page.

To really answer the question “Why Facebook?” you should always go back to who you are trying to reach, and what your goals are. Often this translates into what we call “decision factors.” If you have a persona, or a general understanding of your potential client, what drives them? What information do they evaluate before making the kind of decision you seek?

Next: how do they interact with Facebook? Does your target audience need to see a lot of activity, innovation, excitement from your firm? Or for other clients of your firm? Do they tend to trust the judgement of their peers? Are they more interested in being different?

The answers to these questions will not only help you decide how much to invest in Facebook, they will also help you decide what types of content to focus on.

What should your page look like?

When you create a Facebook page, there are certain default items that you will be prompted to provide. These include the cover picture, profile picture, and various types of information. There are also tabs for the important content types.

Many businesses don’t really pay attention to these elements, but if you are bothering with Facebook at all, it makes sense to carry through your branding and messaging, as you would your website. Consider answering those questions that most help your followers. Do you have a physical location you want them to find? Do you have services that need to be explained? Do you want to send them to your website or have them sign up for your newsletter? All these are important decisions.

The positioning of each element on the page is critical, and even though all the tabs and slots may be available, only those that are in the quick scan spots will be used as much as they should be.

Along with the static content that can be added as a default, remember that you can sticky a post to the top of the timeline. This is a good place to add video or other content that explains your services.

What kind of content should you post?

A Facebook page without fresh content is worse than nothing. If your most recent post is two years old, many visitors will assume you have gone out of business. Long gaps give the impression that you don’t really care about whatever goals you set up the page to accomplish.

Facebook posts are a mixture of original, curated, and shared content. Curated is basically sharing a link, but adding some kind of interpretation or summary to help your followers understand what it is about.

Original content is important, as it is your best chance to connect your message with your audience. Original content can demonstrate your team’s capabilities, expertise, and thought leadership. It can also be used to communicate your principles, attitude, team chemistry. However, good original content requires more resources. It can reflect poorly on you if not done well. Though your services may not include graphic design, writing, or video production, the quality of the services you do provide will be judged by the quality of your posts.

The amount, quality, and frequency of original content should be decided upon in advance, and appropriate resources set aside to meet those goals.

Shared content is simply reposting what others have posted. While this is quite common on Facebook, it doesn’t add much value to your page, unless you are a news aggregator. It can be useful to develop relationships, or to show clients you value their content. Sometimes a good story is worth sharing to your followers, but even in those cases, some amount of curation is important.

Curated content is content that you have selected for your followers, and added additional information as necessary. The information you add helps make you a part of the story for your followers. Curation implies more care in the selection of content as well. Your followers don’t need to see every article anyone posts in your field. They want to know what’s really worth reading, and they are trusting you to just recommend those articles.

How should you promote your page?

Once upon a time there was a belief that if you created great content and made it catchy, it would go “viral.” But as the sheer volume of catchy content increased, along with a lot of changes to Facebook’s algorithms, any business or organization page has to consider promoting content to reach people. A typical post will only reach 16% of your followers unless you pay Facebook to boost it.

Some older marketers who tried to be effective in the old way resent Facebook. They will give you a lot of reasons why the new system is stifling their expression and Facebook is just about the money. Whether they have a point or are just failing to adapt, the new reality is the one in which we are operating. Is your business and your content worth boosting? If not, why did you put so many other resources into it, only to let it die at the door to popular reception?

Of course one thing you should NOT do is pay third-party venders for “likes.” These groups will hire hundreds or thousands of super-cheap workers over a platform such as Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Those workers will “like” your page to inflate your metrics. But none of those “likes” are people who are actually interested and that you want to reach. In effect, you are paying to have someone lie to you about how great you are.

Boosting or promoting using Facebook’s tools can be very effective and relatively inexpensive, if done strategically. If you target people with the proper interests, use geo-targeting, and coordinate your boosts with the introduction of targeted content, you can build an interested audience. Then you can pick content that you feel is most important and boost those specific posts so that your followers, or others targeted by interest or region, are far more likely to see it.

We have done a bit of experimentation in this area and have a good sense of when and how to boost to get better engagement. You can do the same by carefully selecting and tracking when and how you boost. Doing it the other way, just blanketing everyone with everything, will jack up your costs while gradually thinning out your followers.

Conclusion: Facebook and your overall strategy

Facebook is a strong, almost self-sufficient platform. Some businesses do all their marketing on Facebook, skipping the website entirely. We have seen clients have some success with this approach. You can provide the information that is most important, increase engagement, and regularly post calls to action.

However, we still advise a broad web content strategy that includes multiple channels. Facebook is famous for changing their policies, algorithms, and user interfaces. You cannot control how your content will be shared over Facebook over a long period. Also, there are many advantages to a website. Much more content can be evergreen, and the web content can be easily shared over other, non-Facebook networks. Another important consideration is that, for many people, checking your website is a critical part of their decision process. They may like what they see on Facebook, but if there’s no website, or the website is very low quality, they may decide against whatever you’re trying to accomplish. Decision of greater importance than an impulse purchase often require multiple “touches” before the user gets to that zero moment of truth. Though the decision may be made on a particular platform, information found across all of them will also factor in.


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