There are more than 1.11 billion active users a month on Facebook and 50 million-plus business pages, according to a 2013 study by StatisticBrain.com. That is just too large a number to ignore as a business. However, it can seem overwhelming when trying to start out on Facebook. There are many options and capabilities, but when you are just starting out, there are a few things you should know. One thing to remember is that Facebook is different for each user. What works for my company’s page may be different from what works for your business page, as there is no cookie cutter formula to success. Both pages have different users with different demographics and interests, and you must approach it with this mindset. With that said, to help organize some of the chaos surrounding Facebook and to get started talking with the millions of potential customers, here are a few suggestions to follow that should help get to the ball rolling.
Facebook is a way for your company to casually interact with consumers; however, you should have a business strategy and plan on how you are going to leverage the platform. Like anything in business, you need to have a plan. What is your purpose for being on Facebook, do you want to increase sales? Drive traffic to your Web site? Increase brand awareness? Define your purpose, and start to set up goals you want to reach. These goals should be specific and measurable such as increase fans to 500 by Aug. 1. This enables you to track your progress and make improvements if need be. A great tool that helps you with this tracking and analysis is the Insights section. In this section, you are able to see graphs about the demographics of your page, as well as data from past posts. You can then use this information to better position your future post.
Create a cover photo for your page. It’s the first thing people will see when visiting your page, so it should be inviting and well done. First, it should be the right size so that the photo doesn’t look blurry or skewed. The correct dimensions of a cover photo should be 851 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall, while the minimum photo dimension used should be 720 pixels wide. The next step should be choosing an image that sparks interest and draws the attention of users. There is a restriction on how much text can be used in the photo, so make the image speak for itself. One way to do this is to use bright colors or a photo that highlights one of the products or services you offer. Remember, the image should still align with your brand image and message. Lastly, don’t be afraid to switch it up after a few months. You want the cover photo to continuously work for you so change it to show new products, a holiday theme, etc. … Just don’t be boring!
Content is everything on Facebook. What you post matters, so finding the right content is a key factor in succeeding on Facebook. Obviously, what to post changes depending on what industry or business you are in, but there a few best practices to follow as you first start out. Keep the message short, as Facebook users tend to have small attention spans and are usually not willing to read a big block of text. Make it easy and tempting to engage with your posts by asking questions, fill in the blanks and “Like This” type of posts. Also, strategically use photos, videos, and articles. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that seems to be true on Facebook as well. Please use original posts, do NOT use an auto post app. People can tell and it lowers the amount of engagement the posts sees. Most importantly stay consistent. A lot of businesses get a Facebook page and post for a few months, and then forget about it for weeks at a time. There is no magic or secret formula to success with Facebook, you just need to check in consistently and continually post relevant content. Treat your Facebook page as a living, breathing creature … if you don’t feed it, it will die.
Facebook displays four tabs on your page. You can have as many tabs as you like, but only four will automatically be shown. One of those tabs must be your “Photos,” but you get to choose what the other three will be. This is an important part of your page because it is where you are able to extend your content beyond the posting of status updates. The most commonly used tab is the “Welcome Tab.” It should be used to explain what you do and what value you offer. Here is where you can highlight the value you add to users such as discounts or exclusive offers. Other popular tabs used are to show other social media sites your business is on like Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
Contests are another Tab you can utilize and they are a great way to gain fans quickly. It’s important to read the rules and guidelines for running contests on Facebook before starting. Contest ideas that are widely used are sweepstakes, giveaways or photo contests. Prizes can be gift cards or as simple as making the winner the featured fan of the week. Contests are also a great way to gain leads by requiring entrants to fill out a contact form. Most contests will require the use of third party apps.
You can advertise on Facebook to grow your followers. You can also better target your advertisements on Facebook. You can target as broad or narrow as you would like. Some of the options you have to target the right audience are by state, city, gender, age, keywords, workplaces, relationship and sexual persuasion. It also allows you to set a daily budget, or you are able to set a lifetime campaign budget. Either way, advertising on Facebook is substantially cheaper than traditional advertising. There a few ways that you can be charged for placing your ad, with the most popular being the CPC (Cost per Click) model. With this model, you are only paying your bid amount when someone clicks on your ad. This seems to be the most effective in terms of return-on-investment (ROI). The photo and content are the most important part of a Facebook ad. Some ways to increase your ads click through rate (CTR) are to ask a question in the ad, personalize the image, capitalize a few words, try to invoke emotion, or send users to your Facebook Page. Once you get a user to click on your ad, you must be able to keep them on your page long enough to like it.
Lastly, always remember Facebook is a social media platform with an emphasis on social. You must engage with your followers. This means responding to comments and messages. Use your business page as a place to talk and have conversations with users. In its own way, Facebook is a never ending focus group that allows you insights into what your customers are saying, so use it to improve and increase your business.
Steven Xavier Muldrow has more than two years of experience working with social media and is currently employed at First California Mortgage Company as the firm’s social media coordinator. He holds an undergraduate degree in Marketing and Accounting and an MBA in Global Management. He may be reached by e-mail at [email protected]