Written by Flora Caputo
Facebook is a marketing Goliath. With nearly a billion active users, it controls almost 30 percent of the display advertising business, more than three times the share of Yahoo.
Before boarding the “Facebook train,” clarify your objectives as they relate to business. Facebook is good for audience engagement, but is that engagement truly benefitting your brand? With so many social media channels available, the most important thing to remember about social media is the “social” part.
Ask yourself, “Is my target using Facebook to search and engage with my product, service or industry?” If the answer is no, evaluate other social channels with which your target audience is engaged. If yes, then consider the following:
Make sure you have the dedicated resources to manage your page. Neglecting a Facebook page essentially translates to ignoring a friend. Relationships are two-sided. When you ask fans to like you, you are promising to provide them a reason to stay. And listening is just as important as talking.
Social media is an investment of time. According to AGBeat, when it comes to posting “… the ideal number is between 5–10 posts per week as a brand, and as a media company, this is typically 4–10x higher, as news is information people engage with all day long.”
Depending on your brand’s target and industry, some days and times are more crucial than others. In fact, some of the best times for activity are before or after business hours. Use an editorial calendar and management tool (HootSuite, Objective Marketer, etc.) to schedule content for peak days and times. As you flight out your content, remember it is not just about when to post, but what to post.
Share who you are. People seek a personal connection, even if they are interacting with a company. Find ways to put a face to your brand. Make updates warm and personal.
Deliver valuable content. There are two ways to approach content. One way is to take a fan engagement focus; the other is to use Facebook’s EdgeRank system.
For fan engagement, photos rank the highest, followed by status updates. Then in descending order are videos, music and links. Frequently ask for comments. Asking for responses helps you appear engaged and interested. You’re not just tossing content out—you want to know how it’s received.
Facebook’s EdgeRank system weighs content differently. This system selects photos/video as the most valuable, followed by links and status updates. Weight, affinity, and timing of content work together to enhance visibility.
One of the most valuable aspects of Facebook is the ability to mine your fan base for feedback. Use polls, promotions and questions to gain brand perception. Fans can give feedback on new products, ad campaigns or the competition.
Feedback can be both positive and negative—it’s part of the natural conversation. Our rule of thumb with negative posts is to always respond and to do so with “aplomb and grace.” If policing your page becomes too cumbersome, consider affordable, automated social management tools to help you control comments and manage the conversation.
Even More Engagement -
Social media is a two-way street. A successful strategy involves both inbound and outbound engagement. Research the pages your target is following. Find pages that align with your strategy. Are there other voices in the conversation? Consider online publications, groups, organizations or blogs that have pages your users find valuable. As you engage more with your target audience in places they frequent, you will gain visibility and attention.
Using promotions is a great way to grow your followers. But be careful to not give away freebies to people who are likely to buy from you. Your current fans are loyalists. Use giveaways or contests to reward new likes. Also, consider implementing a “fan gate” on a custom page to encourage likes. The more you engage the more influence you have. Ultimately, the heart of social media is not the number of fans, but the level on which you engage with them.
Return on Engagement -
Finally, you want to be able to analyze the results of your efforts... Facebook has great insight tools, and there are many third-party applications that can help analyze engagement, and recognize some immediate benefits. Listen to and communicate with your fans. Did you discover anything that you wouldn’t have known without the help of social media? Therein lays your return.
About the Author: Flora Caputo is VP, Executive Creative Director of Jacobs Agency. Her expertise: refining brands and developing creative strategies which break through and make connections in today’s complex communications landscape. The Chicago-based agency serves as a strategic marketing partner for companies in a variety of industries who need sharp insight, relevant creativity and the ability to reach targets on multiple levels. For additional information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.jacobsagency.com