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Facebook & What It Can Do For Your Business – Part 3
Best practices for care and feeding of your professional Facebook presence
Earlier, we covered the basics of setting up a Facebook page for your business. Now that we’ve got the foundations out of the way, it’s time to start building, engaging and doing that thing around which an entire cottage industry has sprung up. Specifically: creating content.
Setting out to establish and maintain a professional Facebook page can be daunting at first. But the more comfortable you get, the more it’ll become just one more component of your growth strategy. In this installment, we’ll take a look at some of the ways you can start putting together Facebook ads that will capture not just attention, but revenue. So, let’s get started.
1.) The Many Faces of Facebook Ads. — Facebook has done a great job of establishing and maintaining several varieties of advertising within its format, and each has specific advantages.
Marketplace Ads. Sometimes called “sidebar ads,” this is where most small-to-medium businesses get their feet wet. Marketplace ads appear in the right-hand margin of a user’s Facebook page, outside the standard news feed. These ads have the advantage of being very economical, and a great starting point if you’re new to paid social. You can think of Marketplace ads as being comparable to a classified ad.
Page Post Ads. These are the ads you probably think of when you think of Facebook ads. that show up directly in a user’s news feed. They’re also referred to as “native ads,” and they look just like any other organic social post. Users can like and share these, as well as comment on them.
Sponsored Stories. These ads are a bit more nuanced. In sponsored stories, the friends of users who have already interacted with your business (i.e., followed, liked or commented) may be served ads suggesting that they do the same. In this format, users will see wording like “John Smith, Jane Doe and 5 other friends like ABC Pawn,” followed by a cross-posted instance of a page post ad. It’s a bit complicated to explain, but sponsored stories are a great way to increase your radius and reach a wider audience.
Promoted Posts. Thanks to the complicated structure of Facebook’s impenetrable algorithm, not every post your business creates will reach every one of your followers. There are ways to increase the reach of a given ad, though. One of those methods is promoting a post. If you’ve created a post that you’d like to reach a larger audience, you can choose to “boost” it. You’ll be able to manually select the number of users you’d like to see a given post, and Facebook will push it to that many users. The more you elect to spend, the greater the audience.
Each of these types of ads will have a fairly specific layout, as well as best-practices guidelines regarding things like image size, and word count. But, don’t worry. Facebook has put together some pretty user-friendly templates to help even inexperienced users to put together professional-looking ads. When you select what type of ad you’d like to run, Facebook will guide you through the steps of creating it.
Every format also has a different cost structure associated with it. Depending on your goals and budget, Facebook’s guided process can help you prioritize what blend of these ads will be most appropriate to achieve the results you’re looking for.
2.) Creating Content. — Here’s where the rubber really meets the road. Because while you can have your spend, reach, and placement strategy drilled down to the dime in pretty short order…Actually knowing how to grab attention, and get users to like, share, and engage with your content? There’s the sticky part.
We won’t bore you with a symposium on the finer points of advertising psychology. That’s an entirely separate field unto itself, and there are simply no hard and fast rules to it. Marketing people can earn expensive four-year degrees trying to learn strategy, and still get their lunch eaten by a grass-green intern with good #hashtag game. Everybody’s winging it.
That said, there are certain basic ideas you can keep in mind that will help your posts to better resonate with buyers.
To start, you’ll need to ask yourself some basic questions…
First: What are you selling? This may seem rudimentary, but it’s important. What is your business known for? What’s its identity? Focus? What sets it apart from the competition? The better you know what drives your enterprise, the better you’ll be able to put it in front of the right eyeballs.
Next: Who is it for? If you’ve been in business long enough to be considering advertising, chances are you know your customer. And while trucking in generalizations can be risky, chances are you have a better-than-average idea of who is buying what. And knowing your customer is key.
Third: How do you want to present yourself? Your business likely has a pretty well-established image and identity. Use these to your advantage. Knowing your strengths is crucial. Determining how you want to be perceived is the first step toward creating an authentic reputation for your customers to relate to, interact with, and share.
Overall, if you know your business and you know your target demographic, that’ll go a long way to creating a compelling online presence.
3.) Finding your voice. Content creation is tough, and can be a full-time undertaking in and of itself. Believe me, I know. *Ahem.*
And while we could spend years fine-tooth-combing the finer points of how to engage an online audience, we’d rather save everyone a lot of time. So, here it is — the single most important lesson I’ve ever learned in many, many years of communicating to sell:
What you want to tell your customers is almost never as important as what they need to hear.
For instance…You may be overstocked on tools, and looking to lighten your load. Well, buyers aren’t likely to care that you have a thousand circular saws dragging down your balance sheet, and you need to turn more of your inventory into OUT-ventory. Customers always need to see things framed in a context that communicates the benefit to them. That’s why consumer interactions must, 100% of the time, primarily offer value to the buyer. So it’s a good idea to try to put yourself on the other side of the register, right smack-dab in the customer’s shoes. Tell them what you can do for them, and they’ll be far more likely to be interested in what you’re selling.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with it. Entertaining content is good content. The idea is not to be in the WAY of what people want to see…but to BE what they want to see. Leverage your voice. Establish your identity, and make the most of it. How you’re viewed is ultimately up to you.
4.) Points to Ponder. Again, these guidelines are pretty basic. Selling online is complicated, layered, and a matter of much debate. There are people who do this full-time. It certainly can be an all-consuming gig, and you’ve got lots of other aspects of your company to oversee.
Nevertheless — you could go to a thousand “online selling” seminars or read a hundred “make money online” books — and common sense is still most likely your best guide when it comes to how to create Facebook content your followers will engage with.
So we’ll wrap this up with a few generalized, quick-and-dirty, one-off tips to keep in mind when creating your posts:
Stay on top of events… Valentine’s Day? Remind people you have a great selection of fine jewelry. Father’s Day? I’ll bet Dad would love a TV for the den, or that man-cave-ready neon beer sign. Thanksgiving? Hey, cookware and appliances make preparing a meal for the whole family a lot easier.
…And occasions. Beyond holidays, there could be plenty of other things going on in your area. That gun expo across town could use some competition from folks looking to expand their collections. Classic car shows might have gearheads looking for a specific, hard-to-find tool. No matter what’s happening, there are always fun ways to increase traffic. Stay on top of them.
Run platform-exclusive flash sales. What’s a “flash sale?” It’s a discount on a specific type (or category) of item, and the only place you’re only offering the discount…is on Facebook. “10% off all musical instruments today only when you come in and say, ‘hook me up with that Facebook deal’.” People will be sure to like your page so they don’t miss out on these “blink and you’ll miss it” deals.
Encourage sharing. Make sure to encourage followers to share your content. Request that your audience “tell their friends.” Often, all you need to do is ask. And every share is another huge potential circle of eyeballs you could be in front of — for free.
Run contests. When asking your users to share or comment on a post, make it worth their while on occasion. Indicate that everyone who does will be entered into a drawing to win a token item, or discount. Offer 25% off any item over a certain price point. 10% off an entire order. Or, just offer to give away a specific item you can afford to eat the cost of. Whatever you like. Then, pick a name at random from the list of people who either commented or shared, and create a post announcing the winner. Sure, it’ll cost you a little in discounts or giveaways, but the publicity generated from things like this can be substantial. People love winning, and also tend to develop some strong loyalty toward whoever lets them do it.
Don’t always feel like you need to sell. This last one may sound a little counter-intuitive, but the general public can get marketing fatigue. Advertising is crammed into every crevice in the universe these days, and people do get tired of being sold to.
So, sometimes…take a break from the hard-sell, and from paid posts. Relate your customers. Put up a fun meme. Ask them what’s on their holiday wish list. Or just tell them to have a good weekend. Be friendly, responsive, and human when they comment. The more you give them upbeat, positive content to engage with, the more they’ll interact with you, and develop a positive view of your business. As a bonus, the algorithm will then serve them more of your content. The point is to post, and post frequently…even if it’s just a friendly hello. Remember: Every share, like, and comment has the potential to organically put your content in front of people you haven’t specifically paid to reach.
Whew! This is all a lot to absorb. Still…it’s by no means a comprehensive guide. Creating engaging, customer-friendly content for Facebook really is a subject that can, and has filled shelves full of books (as well as countless lecture halls).
Still, we hope this gives you a healthy nudge in the right direction, and helps you start thinking about all the things you can do when you start interacting directly with your customers. The possibilities truly are as endless as their news feeds.