Facebook continues to be the reigning champ of social media sites, as the #1 spot where friends connect and share online. More than just a meeting place for friends, Facebook has grown into a venue for businesses to market themselves through interaction with customers and self-promotion.
To market your business successfully on Facebook, you need to understand Facebook’s unique opportunities, and how it differs from other media. Just as you wouldn’t run a radio ad on television, you shouldn’t market on Facebook the way you’d market in a magazine or on your website.
Don’t use Facebook for the ‘hard sell’
People regard Facebook as a fun social space where they chat to friends, check out photos and videos, and relax. You need to join conversations and become part of a community, rather than being a business ‘outsider’ who tries to sell aggressively.
Hard-sell tactics – such as using advertising slogans, posting repeatedly about a particular product or service, or providing lists of products and prices in isolation from any related conversation – will result in other users ‘unfollowing’ you. They may even post negative comments about your business.
Have a clear goal and strategy
It’s important to have a clear goal for using Facebook, and a strategy to achieve that goal. For example, a coffee shop might decide that its goal is to increase sales generated by Facebook by 10% in the next 6 months. Their strategy could include:
- creating a post every morning featuring a special of the day, using a coupon code so that the sale can be tracked to Facebook
- posting a daily photo featuring a customer who is its ‘Coffee King or Queen’ of the day
- encouraging users to post their own photos of them enjoying a coffee.
Setting a goal and strategy gives you direction for your Facebook marketing and a way to measure your success.
Create a human voice for your business
Facebook users like to talk to other people – not to an impersonal business. Whoever manages your Facebook page must be able to write in a voice that sounds real and likeable, using a style that suits your business. They also need permission to express things in their own words, not in the company’s jargon or ‘official line’.
Unlike traditional media (such as magazines or television), or other online media (such as web pages), social media are built around frequent updates.
Recent Australian research suggests that Facebook users check their page more than 25 times per week, and they need to see that you are regularly posting new material. Some guides recommend posting at least once a day, but the core principles are to post when you have interesting content, and to judge how often your audience wants to hear from you.
Encourage comments and reply quickly
Encourage other Facebook users to respond to your posts or to post their own comments about your business or a topic that’s of interest to them and you. When they do post, respond quickly – within 24 hours is best. Failing to respond will weaken your Facebook friends’ willingness to engage with you, and they will gradually drift away.
Use pictures and videos
Pictures and videos are a major element of Facebook’s appeal. Use them frequently to keep your friends engaged and entertained. For example:
- a clothing retailer could post photos of new stock as it arrives
- an architect or builder could post day-by-day pictures of a house under renovation
- a personal trainer could post an instructional video of how to do a particular exercise.
Get interactive with offers, contests, games, surveys, etc. People like it when Facebook is fun, and when it delivers something that they can’t get any other way.
Research shows that discounts and giveaways are the most popular reason for a customer to follow a business’s Facebook page. Likewise, contests and games can be used to liven up your page.
Facebook can also be used to distribute customer surveys. If you do this, make sure that you keep surveys short, and provide a survey link that users can easily click, ignore or share with their friends.
Nurture your relationships
It takes time to build good relationships with other Facebook users, so be patient. Engage sincerely in conversations, provide useful content, and develop rewards for loyal customers to help foster positive relationships.
Promote your Facebook page
If you have a Facebook page, promote it throughout your business so that your social media works hand-in-hand with more traditional marketing methods. Provide your Facebook address on your letterhead, business card and website, in store, in advertisements, and in your email signature.
Use Facebook Insights to learn more about your customers
Facebook Insights can tell you more about the people who choose to like your page. Once you know your Facebook friends’ characteristics, you can tailor your posts and offers to meet their needs and interests.
For example, if you’re a book store that caters to customers of all ages, but most of your Facebook friends are aged 18-25 years, your Facebook offers might concentrate on books suitable for that age group (while your in-store offers are broader). Or, if you’re an online seller who never meets your customers, you might be able to get a clearer picture of what they think and feel by reviewing their interests, ages and locations on Facebook.