Having recently celebrated its 15th birthday, Facebook is ancient in social media terms. But it’s just as relevant as ever.
Despite all the recent furor around “fake news” and misuse of audience data, Facebook is still growing. In the US, 69% of adults say they use the platform, up fractionally from 2018. As far as its rivals are concerned, only YouTube comes close in terms of audience reach.
That makes Facebook marketing an invaluable part of any brand strategy – provided you’re doing it right. Here are five key ingredients to include in your marketing plan right away.
1. Study and define your audience
Without a proper understanding of who you’re trying to reach, your Facebook strategy is destined to fail.
How old are your customers? Do they live in a certain city, state, region or country? What do they do for a living? What challenges do they face in their work and personal lives? And – perhaps most importantly of all – how do they use Facebook?
If you’re an established brand, consider polling your existing audience using a tool like Google Forms or SurveyMonkey to find out who they are and what makes them tick. For startups, hold focus groups and workshops to define exactly who you’re trying to reach.
Once you’ve got a good idea of who your audience is, use Facebook’s Audience Insights tool to learn more about their behaviors.
2. Align your objectives to your business needs
It’s all too easy to view Facebook as wholly separate to the rest of your marketing efforts.
Really, it should complement what you’re doing through other channels, which means the objectives from your Facebook marketing need to align with your wider business goals.
That means steering clear of vanity metrics – such as likes and follower counts – and considering what success on Facebook actually looks like for your brand. Once you’ve done this, set clear KPIs to measure your performance and adapt your approach.
Not sure what you want to get out of the social network? According to Sprout Social, the top goals for marketers on Facebook are as follows:
- 34% want to increase brand awareness
- 21% want to increase community engagement
- 11% want to increase sales and lead generation
3. Create (or refine) your Facebook Business page
Now that you know your audience and have clear goals in place, it’s time to build – or update – your Facebook Business page.
While there’s no set route to creating a “good” page – it simply needs to reflect your brand, values and personality while helping you to achieve your goals – the following steps should be considered:
- Make sure your page name is search-friendly. In almost all cases, this will simply be the name of your brand.
- Create a custom URL that aligns with your handle on other social platforms.
- Use the About page to provide key information about your business – what you do, where you’re based – and let people know how to contact you.
- Choose cover and profile photos that are visually striking while accurately reflecting who you are as a brand.
- Incorporate a CTA button that gives users a simple way to make an enquiry or buy your products. Facebook’s instructions explain how to do this.
4. Don’t sit back and wait for your audience to engage
Given all the changes to the Facebook algorithm over the past couple of years, it’s no longer feasible to simply post content and hope your audience will come running.
Rather than waiting for your audience to make the first move, actively encourage them to engage. Ask questions; run competitions; find out what they want you to post.
Never forget that social networks are ultimately designed to build communities of people with shared interests. When people do engage with your content, encourage the conversation to develop. Respond to comments, taking the opportunity to open up new avenues of discussion.
5. Develop your content strategy and start posting
Your content strategy is the key to achieving your Facebook marketing goals.
There are various schools of thought when it comes to planning a content mix. For instance, the 80-20 rule dictates that out of every five posts, four are used to inform, educate and entertain your audience, with the fifth focused on promoting your brand. Another, the social media rule of thirds, suggests that out of every three posts:
- One should involve sharing stories and ideas
- One should be about interacting with your followers
- One should promote your business
Either way, it’s important to remember that you need to add genuine value if people are going to follow and engage with you. If your posts are exclusively about how fantastic your business is, it’s unlikely you’ll achieve your goals through Facebook.