Let’s look at some facts: There are over 1.65 billion monthly active Facebook users worldwide and of those, 1.09 billion log onto facebook daily, and on average users spend about 40 minutes a day on the website, it drives almost 25% of all social referral traffic. That’s an incredible number of people all flocking to the same place on a regular basis, and to you, that could mean a massive potential audience waiting to be targeted.
To absorb all of the potential Facebook has to offer there are 3 key notions you need handle:
- Humanizing your business, increases engagement.
Wanting to increase your sales, is a nice objective, but why don’t you try something a little more ambitious? What if you aim to have loyal customers that fully trust your brand, actively engage with it, and on top of that help your marketing efforts by recommending your products to others? Creating a real relationship with your customer gives you something better and more valuable than a billboard or a tv spot: a customer willing to spread your message and advocate for your brand.
- Familiarize yourself with the 70/20/10 model to optimize your visibility.
Crystal Vilkaitis came up with this rule that tells us 70% of Facebook posts should add value and build the brand, 20% should be of ideas and shared content from other sources, and only 10% should go towards shameless self promotion.
Branding: This is the 70% and it’s all dedicated to letting your audience know who you are. You’ll be posting original content in your own voice, developing your brand’s original personality, and working towards delivering information that your audience will find valuable.
Sharing: This 20% should be spent sharing -valuable, it will always need to be valuable- content created by other people in your field. Don’t fall victim to trends and viral videos, if they’re not related to your field and the content you usually create, don’t share them, They would look tacky and out of place and that’s not a good look for any business. Remember you’re building a brand with a distinct personality.
Sales pitch: The remaining 10% you’ll have left for self promotion. Avoid making this alarmingly different for the rest of your posts. You’re aiming for seamless instead of disruptive. Don’t forget Facebook users are not fond of invasive marketing.
- Forget about “whenever”. Think about timing.
You’re taking the time to create valuable content, you’ve gathered interesting links to share, and you carefully schedule your posts for certain days, the last thing you want is for it to go unnoticed by getting lost in thousands of updates, puppy videos, and bird’s eye view pictures of everyone’s fancy lunches. That’s why good timing is absolutely crucial.
The first thing you need to know is that Facebook’s algorithm works in mysterious ways, and is constantly evolving, so there’s no use in creating a schedule based on data from 5 years ago. That’s about the equivalent of three lifetimes in Internet time. The good news is that, just like you, everyone from big companies to tiny startups want to figure out when’s the best time to post, so there’s plenty of studies trying to solve this problem. The bad news is, findings are not consistent across the board, you’ll need specific data from your field and target audience. Rather than following what the studies have to say, adapt the general findings to your needs and area and test them.
According to Forbes, brands should be staying clear of early mornings, before 8 a.m, and late at night, after 8pm. They recommend staying between 1-3 p.m. and found that the best days are Thursday and Friday. The latter, generates 17% of all likes, 15% of comments, and 15% of shares.
KISSmetrics, found that the best day to post is Saturday, with shares peaking around 7 p.m and the optimal time for posting being noon.
Buffer states engagement rates are 18% higher on Thursdays and Fridays, and they believe the reason for this lies in users being ready for the weekend and over the workweek by then. Regarding time, they’re a bit more lax and vague, pointing at early afternoon and anytime before dinner.
Look at your own data
Google Analytics is a free tool you can use to see where your own audience is and schedule according to their time zones. Built right into Facebook, there’s Insights that let’s you see when your audience is online.
Consistency is key: Whether you’re posting on Saturday morning or waiting till Wednesday evening, it is crucial that you keep it steady. Your users should be able to accurately expect a certain number of posts a week.
- The different Facebook posts you need to know to get you started.
If you’re unsure how to begin, get inspired with the most common and effective Facebook posts:
Posts with a link
A study coming from inside Facebook headquarters, tells us posts that contain a link gather the most attention among users. They are more attracted to the post format that contains a bit of information about the article along with the link, instead of just the link and a picture. This is as simple as pasting a link in the status update box and letting facebook do the rest; the metadata (the title, picture and overall content) will be automatically previewed and you’re welcomed to just erase the link itself in favor of adding your own words.
Host a contest
Hosting a contest, temporarily frees you of having to look at different time zones and days before you post. Generally, once the rules have been given to the public, you don’t have to do much besides monitor the reactions until it’s over.
The first thing you have to know, is that Facebook is pretty strict with its guidelines, it will not let you administer a promotion if you’re being disruptive, invasive or deceptive. This means, you can’t ask people to tag themselves in pictures they’re not in, encourage to post information in other people’s timelines to win a contest, or even share in their own timelines. You need to stay up to date with their regulations to avoid being shut down.
The second thing you need to know is that you have to keep the prize related to your brand. People that follow you are interested in your product, so why would you offer them something else entirely? Trust that they want what you have to offer. If you get away a gift card instead of an iPad, you’ll attract people interested in your product rather than people looking for free iPads.
Now, the kind of contest you host, will depend on what you want to achieve:
- Getting leads: A common practice is asking users to provide their email addresses and like your page for a chance to win. You get a new database and more likes, and they get the possibility of winning a prize.
- Increasing brand awareness while engaging your client: Aim to gain exposure by involving your users. You can ask them to take a picture with your product and share it to enter or ask them to name a new product or share tips about your field. Whatever you decide to do, keep in mind that user generated content would be extremely valuable for future uses in your marketing efforts.
Though there’s a Facebook feature that let’s you create polls within groups and events, this is yet to be incorporated into business pages. Asking questions in your status update has also proven to be ineffective. Instead try encouraging people to comment their thoughts on a post or use Facebook Questions to ask a relevant question about your brand. Being able to reach a large heterogenous audience in a massive platform that encourages them to speak their minds, gives you a unique opportunity for organic feedback. You can use this to post questions that will let you know your customers better, showcase product features that they might not have known previously, or gain insights as to how they view your brand.
To make sure you get the best results possible, you should keep the questions related to your product, in congruence with your overall brand, and as sporadic as possible to avoid annoying your audience.
Current events related posts
Start a conversation by staying up to date with major events and holidays. The public will be more inclined to see you as a human if you share the same traditions or habits, and a good way to do this is by showing you live by the same calendar they do.
Please go above and beyond a simple “Happy Thanksgiving everyone!”. If you’re unsure as to how to do this, think of how you can be helpful during an important event or holiday while staying true to your brand. You can go beyond traditional holidays too. A catering business might like to give out a mother’s day inspired recipe; a personal trainer could offer Wimbledon themed tips just before the tournament starts; a theatre can host an Oscar related contest. Think of your audience and what motivates them, or just ask them if you don’t know. Remember you have a platform that encourages them to share their habits.
Tip: Though hashtags are more commonly used in Twitter and Instagram, they are available on Facebook as well, and using them is a great way to make your post visible for people looking for information on certain events.
Answer questions, work on your customer service
Being available on social media opens the door for your customers to directly contact you with inquiries or complaints. As much as 67% of users have reported using social media pages to get customer service. When this happens, be ready to respond and be accountable for your mistakes. Although in regular customer service environments you could take up to 24-48 hours to give an answer or solve a problem, this would be completely unacceptable in social media. You need to have quick response rates, always remember social media users expect immediacy and Facebook has rewarded brand’s abilities to deliver with profile badges that identify them. You can take the opportunity to deliver updates about your product that would reach a wide audience, or troubleshoot common problems.
The “Meet the fans” Post.
You’re building a community, go ahead and showcase its members. People like to be recognized, and they love it when someone they like is the one doing the recognition. The easiest way to do this is by asking them to submit pictures with your product and then showcasing them on your page. You can also take a positive comment left on one of your entries and turn it into a testimonial. The focus should be in finding a way to exhibit your customers as part of your brand.
The “Meet us” Post.
By now, it should be drilled into your brain that your audience wants you to be human. There’s yet another way to do this: showing yourself. If you’ve spent time developing your brand, creating a unique voice for it, and giving a soul to your product. Benefit from your efforts by also providing a real person your audience can relate to your brand.
Give a glimpse of what’s behind the corporate facade. Let them know the team, give them a face and a name to remember. Exploit people’s natural interest in the lives of others, show them what you did for your christmas party, let them take a look at your desks, maybe offer a sneak peek of a typical work day for your team.
Keep it short and sweet. The ideal Facebook post should be 40 characters or less. These short posts receive up to 86% more engagement -This means higher likes and shares- than longer ones.
When sharing a link, use these 40 characters for providing context, users tend to pay more attention to the metadata when deciding whether or not they’ll click on the link.
Capitalize on people’s habits
People are already sharing their opinions, that’s the appeal of Facebook. It’s a place to exhibit their personalities, share the thoughts and interact with others. Take advantage of people’s willingness to expose themselves by asking them to share their thoughts and opinions about your brands.
Keep in mind: Another habit people have develop on Facebook is their readiness to click on links that take them to a different website, so work on your landing pages. These would be the pages of your website made to receive traffic directly from Facebook. Usually, this traffic is composed of new users interested in gathering more information about your business. Your landing pages should be in line with the user’s experience; if they clicked looking to know more about your product, don’t send them to your “About me” section. If they were attracted to the look and feel of a specific advertisement, the landing page you direct them to, should offer the same aesthetics.
- Keep 3rd party apps to a minimum, embrace Facebook tools
Facebook is fully aware of its potential and hasn’t been afraid to get the most out of every opportunity. By extensively studying the way it’s being used and how its customers interact within the platform, they have been able to elaborate built-in tools to help you promote your business while prioritizing the user experience.
Call to action buttons
In February 2014, Facebook rolled around a new feature for their ads that lets businesses include a call to action button with a predetermined text, the options are pretty simple and straightforward: Book now; contact us; use app; play game; shop now; sign up; watch video. This is a great opportunity for brands to direct their fans to their social pages or website (remember landing pages?), without posting a link.
Maybe there’s a question your customers ask over and over, or you have some information you’d like them to always see when they come to your page. The easy solution is to pin it to make sure they’re always at the top of your page above any new content.
Facebook allows you to choose who sees your ads based on geographic and demographic specifications. You’ll be able to target people based on their age, gender, interests, hobbies, and even relationship status. By doing this you ensure that your existing customers aren’t necessarily bothered when you’re trying to capture new leads with a free trial advert. This tool is so specific, you could even target existing customers of a certain age, living in a certain place and working on a certain field.
Speaking of existing customers, when you have a working database of users who are loyal to your product, Facebook allows you to look for people with similar characteristics that are more likely to be interested in your business. Just as with your target segmentation, you can specify age, gender, work field, and zip code.
All you have to do is write your post as you would normally, and click on the clock symbol below the composition box. The tool allows you to schedule posts even six months into the future. They will not be noticeable as scheduled posts and will not look any different from your regular posts in real time. This can be a time saver and you can use it alongside live posting to see what works for you.
- Don’t forget to make your own experiments
Whether you follow every suggestion you find online or play it by ear, don’t be afraid to test different options. Know that people value honesty, helpfulness and creativity. If you present yourself as a brand with something to say, people will take an interest in what you have to offer. Have fun with your audience and experiment with your persona.