There’s no doubting the facts that Facebook is the largest social network on the planet, however many businesses still don’t understand fully how to get the best out of the platform when using it as a marketing tool for their products and services.
In the first of a series of mastermind interviews taken from our new book Essential Digital Marketing For Small Business we asked Heather Robinson of leading digital marketing consultancy Skittish for her insights on how small businesses should be approaching digital marketing on Facebook.
Why should a small business owner consider using Facebook as a marketing channel, how does it differ from other social media marketing channels and what are the opportunities?
In the same way that television brought advertisers into the front room of their potential customers, Facebook opens the door into their homes and private lives, but at a very low cost. We can learn so much about the person behind the profile with people sharing a great deal of information about themselves, making targeting much more effective. Other social media platforms such as Twitter collect very little personal data about their users, making targeting that bit less accurate.
What do you consider to be the biggest misunderstandings that businesses have when considering using Facebook as a marketing channel for their products and services?
“It’s all about what people had for their tea!” is a phrase I hear often. The human interest side of Facebook is certainly apparent, but there’s so much more to it than that! Yes, it’s a social platform, but that doesn’t mean businesses cannot succeed here, you just need to be social too.
I also hear concerns about privacy with business owners thinking that as soon as they launch a business page, it will open the doors to their private life with customers being able to see all their information. Of course, you could let that happen if you ignore the privacy settings, but you can also hide most of your data from people you don’t know too.
It’s important to set expectations when using any digital marketing channel, so what goals should a small business be setting, what metrics should they be measuring and what tools should they be using when marketing their business on Facebook?
Goals should be centered on engagement and reach, rather than direct leads and sales in the first instance. Businesses need to be looking at their engagement rate – so how many likes, clicks, comments and shares are they achieving – as well as how many people are seeing their posts.
They’ll also need to measure and assess which types of updates receive the most engagement, whether it’s plain old text updates, images or links. Facebook Insights – particularly the ‘Posts’ report – will give them the information they need to assess what’s working for them.
Are there particular markets or demographics that you think fit particularly well with Facebook marketing campaigns and any that don’t?
I may be stereotyping here, but in my experience (and backed up by a great little infographic from Hubspot – http://bit.ly/1nfvtXH), women and men use Facebook in very different ways. Women tend to be the bigger sharers, commenters and likers and complete more of their profile than men. This means they’re going to be easier to target. Men seem to be more passive, so if your product or service appeals to women more than men, you have a slight head start in targeting your audience more effectively.
What are the advantages of setting up a Facebook page for your business and how would a business best utilize it?
If you’re in the B2C markets, setting up a Facebook Page gives you a presence on one of the biggest social networking platforms, giving you a huge amount of exposure and potential access to a global audience. Businesses should use Facebook as a means to socialize with their followers, engage with them on a human level and build rapport. Trying to use Facebook to send out marketing messages will not get you very far in the beginning, you need to build up the trust with your follower base first.
Do you think other Facebook tools such as Groups and Events fit into a business’ marketing mix?
Excellent question! I think it completely depends on the nature of your business. Having said that, I believe businesses can do pretty much everything they would need to do with a Facebook Page without the need for a group as well. I see groups as being more like forums and they can get a bit out of hand with the need for moderation to ensure the content remains ‘on track’ and not hijacked by the users.
Events are great when you’re organizing a social event with friends and can also work well if your events are local and targeted at consumers – for example, a restaurant re-opening night or charity event. I think, however, for business events, sites like Eventbrite provide a more professional looking service to advertise and sell tickets. You also have the ability to capture and reuse the email addresses of attendees, making your next event easier to promote.
What types of content do you consider gets the most engagement on Facebook?
In my experience, content that gets people talking, whether it’s because it’s humorous or controversial, generates so much more engagement. You’ll want to use some imagery in there too and if you can involve the audience in the humour, even better!
A great example of this is BuzzFeed (www.buzzfeed.com) that regularly publishes quizzes where you can discover “Which Roald Dahl Character Are You?” or “Which Data Scientist Are You?” These engage with the audience and get them sharing their results on Facebook and in turn their friends are also intrigued what their results would be so they do the same. The engagement rate is huge!
With Facebook offering advertising opportunities for businesses to promote their products and services do you have any advice for small businesses that are taking their first steps into advertising on Facebook?
Think about what you want to achieve. You need to start with who you’re targeting and make sure you’re clear on the demographics and interests that these people have (and that they’re even active on Facebook!).
You then need to think about your message. A sales message will not go down well, keep focusing on that word ‘social’ and offer advice or a resource, share something useful or run a competition to give something away (be sure to check Facebook’s guidelines on competitions before committing).
Consider the placement of your adverts – you want to focus on the newsfeed rather than the right hand column, you’ll get a much better response here.
And lastly, if you’ve used Google AdWords with some success, don’t think your campaigns will transfer across to Facebook and have the same success – it’s a whole new approach to social advertising.
In your experience as a digital marketing consultant, how successful do you think Facebook has been so far at delivering conversions against other forms of digital marketing?
It’s a difficult platform to master coming from a paid-search background and it can be a slow burner. Of course, it varies for each industry, but in my experience, conversion rates in terms of leads and sales are much lower than other forms of digital marketing such as Google AdWords, search engine optimization and email marketing, but I’ve also found the cost to be a great deal lower too.
What are your top 3 tips for converting Facebook connections into customers?
- Treat your followers like royalty, engage with them and offer them exclusive deals
- Think beyond Facebook and use your Page to build your email lists, giving you another avenue to explore in terms of generating conversions
- Your website is one of your best sales tools, so use your Page to drive traffic back to your website.
For more tips and advice from Heather or to find out how her marketing agency might be able to help you improve your social media marketing, you can visit her beautifully designed website at http://skitti.sh
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