I was recently marveling at the decades of steady advances in database marketing - morphing from ‘80’s mail-order catalogs targeting lifestyle and demographic selections like “Dog lovers with Income $50k+” to current, state of the art e-tailers laser focusing big data fueled emails and click-triggered retargeting. As data grew commoditized in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, the focus shifted to mobile and social media. The digital divide between large businesses with sophisticated marketing programs widened, leaving small and local businesses to rely on old school marketing like newspaper ads and radio.
The arrival of easy and reasonably priced social media marketing platforms created a more socialist marketing economy, helping level the playing field. In late 2007 Facebook launched “Facebook Ads”, creating Pages for companies as the first step toward small businesses more effectively competing with large corporations. The sophistication of Facebook advertising is tremendous and (used well) effectively levels the playing field for small businesses and local marketers when competing with big brands.
For those who took advantage of Facebook’s free organic reach between 2007 and 2012, social media delivered huge advantages on the cheap. As Facebook’s popularity increased, though, so did the number of posts, ads and videos of cats in shark costumes on Roombas. 2016 brought filtered, ranked, and edited posts out of our followers’ newsfeeds so a paltry 6% of our followers even see our business posts, and that’s declining further.
From Facebook’s standpoint, this has been a fantastically successful business strategy, making them the 6th most valuable company in the US, worth $350 billion. Spend a fortune building audiences, get people and businesses hooked on the platform, and then shift the model so that the reach requires advertising fees = brilliant. With over 2.5 million active advertisers, Facebook has become one of the largest online marketplaces in the world.
How can businesses make the most of Facebook advertising in this new paradigm? Here are four key strategies to make Facebook “sing” for your business now and into 2017:
1) Trick out your Page – OPTIMIZE FACEBOOK FREEBIES
Facebook business Pages are constantly changing - stay on top of new features and take advantage of them. Here are some of the most commonly over-looked free opportunities to best leverage your page:
- Profile and Cover Photos: Fit the space (square 180 x 180-pixel profile picture/logo and a 315 x 851-pixel cover), brand yourself well, and make your company’s personality shine through.
- About: Write a killer business description – highlight benefits and what makes you special
- Include your website address link (URL) prominently
- Page Info: Make sure you take advantage of as many fields here as you can
- Manage Tabs: Link to your other social media (Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
- Capture Info: Add a link to an Email signup – most email programs provide an easy plug-in for Facebook so visitors can sign up to receive your newsletters or other communication
- Use the new @xx feature – ideally make this the same as your Twitter handle
- Contact Us: Be sure you have up to date contact information and monitor communications daily
- Events: If you host events, this is a great free way to reach attendees
- Products/Services: This is like free advertising and is an extension of your website – create a new listing for each of your primary services or product lines
2) Get all the organic juice you can – ENCOURAGE POST ENGAGEMENT
Enjoy the small amount of free marketing through organic reach as a bonus to your paid posts and ads. Optimize what you can get by:
- Encouraging followers to engage with you (Like, Share, Comment), which prioritizes your future posts in their newsfeed.
- Using specific Call to Action language in Posts, Ask Questions, Start a Conversation
- Driving Facebook page visits through links on your website, other social media, print material, and in your shop or restaurant
- Asking fans to turn notifications on for your page (while on your page and “Liked” is checked, the drop down menu lets them select “Notifications = All On”). The minority of your followers will go to this length – employees, partners, family, investors, and hopefully key customers. It’s worth asking!
Check out part two of Sheri's blog for steps 3 and 4