In an increasingly digital world, where new communication platforms are developed daily, Facebook remains a powerful marketing tool. Why? Well, besides the total measure-ability, low cost and high ROI, Facebook reaches your target audience when they are most susceptible: down time.
Facebook users are browsing things that genuinely interest them and building connections with people they care about. Vancouver-based social media management company Hootsuite calls it a relationship network, identifying this as the ideal foundation on which brands can make meaningful, personal connections with their target markets. After all, that’s what the relaxed, open-minded and engaged viewer on the other end is searching for.
But Facebook has a multifaceted reputation: one of proven success and constant (frustrating) policy changes. Take the 20% text rule that restricts text appearing in image posts, for instance. The common opinion is that this policy is ridiculous, but these resented restrictions aren’t going anywhere any time soon, so you’d be better off learning how to work around them while your competition gets bent out of shape.
For starters, study Facebook’s advertising guidelines regularly. They may not be riveting, but it will be incredibly helpful when it comes to understanding the grounds on which to build your Facebook campaign. And just like our favourite PGA pros grinding it out this week at Augusta, there is a lot more science and preparation than meets the eye when it comes to “Master”-ing the social media game.
Staying a Step Ahead
As the rules and regulations of Facebook change for advertisers, so do the options of how to share content. We have come a long way from the original status updates and it’s as important as ever to stay ahead of the curve.
This one may not come as a surprise. We all know that video content is becoming increasingly valuable to viewers. But did you know that over 1 million videos are viewed on Facebook each day? Or that the average Facebook user watched 75% more videos this year than last year? (Source: Amy Porterfield).
Short video clips fit perfectly into the browsing nature of the Facebook platform, offering a great avenue to viral content. And with the new autoplay function causing videos to begin without pressing play, they are more eye-catching than ever before.
2. Video Playlists
Facebook has also given users the option of building a personalized video playlist – an individualized portfolio of videos that reflect each user’s own tastes and trends.
This means being able to share more engaging videos in a streamlined format, and encouraging fans to spread them in a more user-friendly format.
3. Craft Multi-Product Ads
You’ve likely started to see multi-product ads in your News Feed lately. The new interactive ad boxes scroll left and right, showing various companies or people that offer related products under one over-arching category.
Facebook wants to help its viewers shop through their best options and sees these promotional features as less intrusive and more service-oriented. While multi-product ads place you head-to-head with potential competition, the fact that they are supported by Facebook means greater overall prominence on the right people’s News Feeds.
4. Dynamic Product Ads
Facebook has also begun reminding users of products they have previously viewed.
Dynamic Product Ads record specific items that users have already searched on your website or mobile app. They include comparable options, in order to recreate a complete shopping aid experience to the user.
As a marketer, your biggest concern should be having the largest and most relevant people exposed to your content. Keep in mind that getting personal is a 2-way street. To make a potential customer feel like you really know them, they must feel like they really know you.
Bare your soul a little bit and put your (or your brand) personality into your posts. By pulling back the curtain, sharing the stories that inspire you, and communicating with the audience that is starting to engage, you won’t just build a fan-base – you’ll build a fan-base that trusts you enough to share your posts with others.
Remember, your Facebook page isn’t a billboard for your company promotions; it’s a personal profile for the identity behind your brand.
The Queen of Facebook suggests posing open-ended questions as a means to build that connection with the consumer, “Pick something that aligns with who you are and what you offer, and people will begin to open up like you wouldn’t believe.”
She then emphasizes sticking around a while as the discussion begins, to make those sharing their thoughts and opinions feel like they are truly being heard.
Engagement, which includes reading a status, viewing an image, clicking on a photo, commenting on a post, sharing an update or liking your page, is key to being seeing on Facebook. The more people engage with your content, the higher your ranking within Facebook’s rubric, and the more your content appears on your fans’ News Feeds. This is Facebook’s way of ensuring that content remains individualized, protecting users from unwanted promotions. But the benefit goes both ways by giving your business the most valuable traffic: people who have already engaged with you and your brand.
Audit, Analyze, Adjust
Once you’ve gotten started on your Facebook strategy, it’s hard to know how to judge your success. Facebook did advertisers a big bonus when they introduced the site-specific Insights analytics, but it’s still good to know how to interpret it all.
1. Page Likes
According to social media analysis team Simply Measured, likes aren’t just a number anymore. Different likes can claim different relevance, and therefore value, to your business.
Start tracking your like sources to see what exactly drives traffic to your Facebook page. Depending on your target market, the patterns that start to appear could offer great feedback on how to streamline your campaign.
2. Leverage Opportunities
Like sources will also show you how the third party apps you’re investing in are paying off and will help to point out which on-brand businesses would be worth reaching out to for B2B support. If traffic tendencies reveal that your most engaged followers are also engaging in similar pages, it’s worth pursuing inter-business promotion.
In the world of web, timing really is everything. Different target markets will be active online in totally different ways and during completely different time periods. Learn when your market is active and when your posts are gaining most traffic to tailor your strategy accordingly.
Facebook Insights splits organic (search directed) traffic from paid for (advertisement directed) traffic, allowing you to see exactly what’s working.
“Especially on Facebook, a paid impression is not worth as much as one earned.”
— Dennis Wu, Social Times
That being said, if paid posts are performing better with certain content, capitalize.
Simply Measured considers non-engaged traffic altogether negligible. If people aren’t bringing anything in to your company, why waste your time or advertising dollars trying to connect with them?
This doesn’t mean that paid Facebook ads are pointless, it just means that they need to be carefully constructed in order to gain the exposure you’re investing in. By connecting with as many fans as possible through native posts (non-promotional) that appear more regularly, you can attract customers to your page – and any sales-specific info that Facebook tries to censor.
Pay to Play
Here is some good advice on when paid posts are worth your while:
1. Giving life to old content
The internet has a glorious added feature: automatic archiving. Don’t stress about always developing new content, when you’ve created quality “evergreen” content that deserves a second look.
2. Offering a last chance to low-performing content
Similarly, if your timing wasn’t quite on with round one, don’t give up just yet. Paid posts can refresh old content strategically, helping it to resurface to the most effective eyes. If the stats don’t improve, you know to move on for good.
3. Judging the competition
While Insights won’t directly offer up a performance review for your biggest competitor, the public nature of the site goes almost as far. When you see paid posts working for another brand within your industry, go ahead and invest.
Facebook offers a platform where users have a lot of say in what they see. With so much control, too many ads will feel like a betrayal to their freedom, so keep your promotional content to a minimum and keep it tailored to your personal voice.
Alter your sales content (think: “Limited time offer”) to engaging copy (think: “Our team has been busy working on something new for you and we’re finally ready to share!”) and your Facebook ads won’t sacrifice the foundation of trust you have been busy building.
Ultimately, content designed to engage needs to outnumber content designed to sell 5 to 1 in order to maintain the trust of the consumer and the platform itself.
Patience is a Virtue
It’s true that the degree of feedback you can gain from Facebook Insights is astounding – and truly valuable – but don’t get ahead of yourself. According to Business Insider, Facebook is actually least effective social media platform when it comes to direct sales.
Garnering someone’s interest while their attention is already focused on your industry will do wonders long-term, but it may not equate to an immediate return. Adjust your analysis and use time to your advantage with benchmark goals and more subjective analysis that better observes gradual shifts and overall growth.
When you catch the leaders consulting detailed yardage books with their caddies this week in Georgia, keep in mind just how much preparation goes into their week at the first major of the year before anyone dons a green jacket on Sunday. Your hard work will pay off just as well when it comes to mastering Facebook.