A platform that internet users across the globe are adopting at a staggering level.
With over 845 million active users a month from which 50% log on each day and spend at least 20 minutes per visit1, Facebook is the foundation for true digital social engagement.
So how can Facebook be used for business purposes? The 5 steps below that should enable you to unlock the social engagement for your brand on the social media giant.
Step 1: Create a Facebook Page with cohesive branding
If your business does not have a Facebook page, create one. If you’re worried about not having the time or resources to manage one, there are tools at your disposal (mentioned further below) that will provide you with effective results for minimal time investment.
Many businesses do have a Facebook page promoting their products and services. Yet these pages are often not a representation of the brand, both visually and through content.
It’s easy to tackle the first problem. While there are limitations to customising features on Facebook pages, brands can upload their profile information, logos as well as brand imagery using the new ‘Cover Photo’ feature to create a familiar entry point for new visitors. This will allow newcomers to recognise the brand experience that they have come to know and expect, instantaneously.
Content, on the other hand, requires a well-defined and executed strategy. This begins with Step 2.
Step 2: Be authentic
Many businesses feel that it is necessary to communicate on their Facebook page in the same corporate tone of voice that is present on their website and other communication channels.
Facebook is all about providing authentic people-to-people engagement. Posts should be written in first person using a conversational tone of voice. While there is still the need to ensure the conversational tone reflects the brand accurately, the authenticity will allow Facebook fans to connect with the brand on a deeper level.
In some cases, businesses have even allowed employees to publish their names on posts so that Facebook users know who they are speaking to. This may not apply to every business, but there is surely a way for you to provide authenticity to your audience.
Step 3: Stay up to date
Keep interaction on your page high with fresh, timely content. New visitors need to know the business is up-to-date and existing followers need a reason to stay engaged.
This is a failing point for many brands as they resort to push marketing their products and services in every post. The key is to have 50% to 70% of your content as informational, educational or entertaining, while ensuring it is relatable and appropriate to the brand and the consumer. Share specific product or service information only 30% of the time. These figures vary slightly across industries however you will find that most successful brand pages on Facebook use a similar approach.
One of the barriers to sourcing fresh content is lack of time. To overcome this, there are a variety of applications that can be used to source content specific to your industry, your brand and your consumer. Enliten.com, a platform run on Social Semantic Intelligence, allows business owners to automate their search and collate relevant content for their social media purposes. This means saving time trolling through websites for relevant content and letting your virtual assistant do it for you.
For the purpose of scheduling content for posts on Facebook, applications like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite allow business owners to pre-load content for a defined period of time thereby managing content on their Facebook page to provide consistency as opposed to ad hoc updates.
Step 4: Two-way dialogue
Facebook is a social network. Resist the temptation to flood your Facebook page with marketing messages that will cause your fans to tune out or worse disconnect from the page. Foster two-way dialogue by creating your own discussions and interacting in existing ones.
When creating a post update, use words that encourage interaction. Action keywords such as Like, Take, Watch, Comment, Visit, Click and Share provide instructions to users and often increase engagement when used appropriately.
Questions can be used at the end of posts to encourage responses. Prompts such as When, Where and How encourage users to voice their opinion and be more involved in a conversation. Remember – each time a fan Likes, comments or creates a post on your page this interaction is shared across their network of friends increasing exposure to your brand.
Through two-way communication business owners can also gain brand feedback. Users who have been satisfied or dissatisfied with your product or service may choose to share their view with the community through your page.
When users post negative comments about your brand, ensure that you address them to not only inform the users that you have listened to their feedback but also to show new fans that you will not turn a blind eye to problems. If you receive positive comments, thank the user. They will be the one to organically promote your brand, so treat them well. This leads to the final step.
Step 5: Foster Advocacy
Prospects generally trust customers over brands so promoting advocacy is an essential strategy for any business. And because user-to-prospect recommendations often occur organically, it’s a low cost channel as well.
Say you have 100 fans. These are your fans because they have, at some point during their lifetime, shared a positive experience with your brand. They are essentially your brand ambassadors.
Start simply by asking these existing fans to suggest the page to others. Create a competition and tap into polls, submissions and other means of self-expression that encourages your fans to invite and involve others.
While this is a truly effective way to promote your brand, it is also often one of the most difficult as you have no direct control over your fans, no matter how strongly they support the brand. No attempts should be made to foster advocacy through trickery or manipulation. Instead, enable a community by giving them value and reasons to share.
Use these 5 steps as the foundation for your Facebook page and discover just how effective social media marketing can be for your business. It is a great way to create a community that uses, trusts and promotes your brand and will have great long-term benefits for your business.
1Facebook User Statistics 2012, AnsonAlex.com