An increasing number of people are using Facebook and other social networking sites as a search engine in lieu of Google (though traditional search engines, especially Google, are still dominating). Your business needs a Facebook Page now more than ever.
It is now mandatory to have one, and more than that, you can—and should—use it for serious marketing efforts. While a lot of advertising that happens on Facebook involves the paid ad system, you can do a lot of marketing work for free just with content marketing and building your brand on Facebook.
Being able to build your brand on Facebook and gain exposure can take a while, but consistency and hard work pays off. You just have to follow these 8 steps, add in some creativity and dedication, and you’re good to go.
1. Stay Connected and Get Personal
Facebook allows you the opportunity to offer at least the illusion of transparency to your visitors. This makes a huge difference when building trust in your brand.
You have the opportunity to interact with users on a one-on-one basis (even if through a computer screen). You can answer questions, thank them for kind words, or apologize and offer a solution for an experience gone awry.
This allows you to get closer to your customers, interacting with them in a place that is seemingly outside of your official business with the metaphorical walls down—even if you’ve got a marketing specialist running your Facebook site. Always make sure to thank customers for their time, no matter what their feedback may be.
Utilize Facebook’s unique filter of supposed transparency to help you get closer to your customers. Giving users a glimpse behind the scenes lets them feel like they’re part of your business with you and that they know you on a more personal level.
2. Get Users Interacting
Facebook is a social media site. It is designed for people to connect and stay connected on. It’s reassuring to see a long list of likes on your posts, but what you should really be shooting for is a cue of comments and posts from users. When users take the time to actually interact with you, it’s building rapport and cultivating your relationship with them.
Ask questions. They can be on topic— “Which of these products would you like to see us carry?”— or they can be off topic— “What are you and your family doing for the holidays?”
The on-topic questions can help you get a good feel of what your target audience wants (without having to pay big money to do so), while the more off-topic posts can give that personal touch to your site.
As a social media site, it doesn’t necessarily always have to be about business all the time. People love being asked their opinion and talking about themselves, so giving them a chance to do it is a big opportunity for user engagement. When users respond to these posts, they are giving you their time (even if it’s a few seconds), and they are building a closer relationship with your company, and you’re building your brand.
3. Have Great and Frequent Content, Including Videos
I know, I know, we’ve all heard it before. It’s more true than ever, however, so I’m not leaving the “have great content!” reminder out.
There’s a lot of Facebook useres that upload six random posts a day about trying the new flavor of sprite or complaining about bad drivers, but mediocre, typical content won’t cut it for businesses.
The content has to be original, and it has to have value, whether that is to serve a purpose to either entertain or inform.
Hard sells should be kept far away from Facebook, and trying to aggressively sell something to someone will often result in unlikes on your Page.
When it comes to Facebook, and social media sites in general, having relatively short, concise posts tend to fare better than lengthier ones.
Posts aren’t just about sharing a few sentences with the world, either. Sharing links to your blog posts can make a big difference towards establishing yourself as an expert in your field as well as boosting readers. This is something we use frequently in our own content marketing strategy, and it’s gotten us more followers on both our Facebook and our blog.
Visuals are good, too. In a long list of wordy posts, a picture or video can grab your users’ attention quickly. Upload pictures of new products, special events—like charity work—done with your company, or of relevant information if applicable.
Videos are now becoming increasingly popular. Sharing videos related to your field, or creating your own videos and posting them—or links to them—to your Facebook page can get more interest from users. Videos have been resulting in high levels of engagement with users on Facebook.
Share really good user-made content. Not only does it save you some work, it shows your appreciation for your customers as well as letting your customers know you’re actually reading and responding what they send to you.
4. Use Facebook Offers and Share Promotions
Facebook allows businesses to post offers, which are special discounts for customers only on Facebook. When someone claims the offer, they’ll receive an email that they can use with the actual company to get the discount or promotion. You can see more about Facebook Offers here.
Not only is this an effective way to announce discounts and increase customer engagement, it often encourages the user to subscribe to your Page. The more people on your contact list, liking your posts and sharing your content with their list of friends, the better it is for you.
5. Research Facebook Ads
With an average of 802 million daily active users on Facebook (as of March 2014), it would seem like a given to use their ad system in order to maximize your reach towards those 802 million people . As Facebook itself says, “Over 1 billion people. We’ll help you reach the right ones.”
Facebook Ads allow you to target your ideal audience, based on location, age, gender, interests, workplace, language, and much more. A jewelry store might target not-yet-engaged couples in hopes of them coming to their store when it’s time to find an engagement ring. Using these incredibly specific targeting features, you can find your target audience extremely efficiently.
With Ads, you’re gaining exposure and spreading your reach, and these ads help you connect with new users and start building rapport and trust with them.
You can promote posts, special events, sales, apps, and new products in addition to your company’s site. When one user likes, shares, or comments on the ad, their friends may see it, making your ad even more powerful and potentially profitable. Sharing all of this could help build your brand, and expose new users to it successfully.
To find out more about Facebook Ads, you can find some of our resources talking about them here.
6. Post During Peak Times And Off-Peak Times
How frustrating would it be to upload a great post, link, or video, only to have it be drowned out in everyone’s newsfeed because you missed the peak hours? The “what” is easily the most important when it comes to Facebook, but that doesn’t mean that “when” can be ignored.
Posting during peak hours can mean that users are more likely to see your post when it’s brand new. It could gain more likes, comments, and shares, leading to building momentum and helping your post stay visible in the newsfeed. This is especially important since organic reach is rapidly declining, and it’s getting harder to make sure your content is appearing in front of a lot of users.
Posting your most important news during peak hours can help grab attention. Announcing new products or services at this time would be ideal. Posting off-peak times, on the other hand, can be a good thing as it will result in less competition and potentially more visibility for you.
A certain amount of your timing will depend on your audience. Peak audiences vary with certain demographics. You can see when your audience is online using Facebook’s Insights.
7. Don’t Forget the #Hashtags
Hashtags are everywhere, Facebook now included. Hashtags turn phrases or topics into actual clickable links in your post, helping others interested in the topic to find it. You can use hashtags to expand your reach to those interested in your topic, ending up in front of someone who your Facebook ad might have missed.
Not only can this make sharing easier, but it can also go cross platform. Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter often overlap with content as it is; linking your marketing campaign where necessary can reduce time and effort on your part. Hashtags can also be used to encourage user interaction.
You can make up whatever hashtags your heart so desires, as long as it’s all one combined word and not too complex. Technically you can make extremely complex hashtags, but they don’t often get a lot of traction, especially when compared to hashtags that are both short and easy to understand.
Researching your hashtag before you use it is also always a good idea.
When trying to post a sweet anecdote about your sibling and using the hashtag #Bigbrother, you could wind up in a discussion about the reality show Big Brother, hear about the big brother/big sister program, or hear about how the government is watching our every move. Research can prevent embarrassing misunderstandings, especially if you accidentally post an already used hashtag that isn’t consistent with your brand (or worse, openly opposes it).
Hashtags don’t have to follow every single post, and probably shouldn’t. However, using them sparingly where appropriate can help your campaign gain traction, especially cross platform.
8. Utilize Facebook’s Analytics System
When you have a page for your business on Facebook, you can take advantage of their free analytics system. Getting detailed information about who is seeing what? That kind of data can revolutionize your marketing campaign.
As Facebook says, it’s easier than ever to monitor what’s working and what’s not working with your page, helping you to best decide how to better connect with your audience.
Facebook’s analytics system is called Insights, which can be found at the top of your page, above your cover photo. It gives you a broad overview of the data, and offers tabs where you can evaluate your statistics on likes, your reach, visits to your page, engagement and viewership of your posts, and who the people are who are following you.
Using this information, you can eliminate tactics and content that isn’t working and increase content marketing strategies that are.
You can gain better insight on who to target and how to target them—maybe your Facebook ads campaign has shown to be hugely profitable, or maybe not. You can, more importantly as it relates to this post, evaluate what content you’re posting is being received well by your audience.
The content you post is what ultimately will build your brand, and monitoring engagement and posts will help you know whether or not you’re on the right track. This will help clue you in about how to improve your content, helping you shape your brand and best present it accordingly to your audience.
In the long run, Ads may bring people to your site, boost sales, and even engagement. But consistent, frequent, high quality content will help to build your brand on Facebook– and off of it– and turn those users into loyal fans and possibly even customers.