We wrote earlier this week about moving beyond using Facebook for brand awareness and engagement and thinking about how to use Facebook for leads and sales. We manage a lot of brand pages and build communities for clients and so we see a lot of people doing a great job of that—and we see even more people (and brands) doing a less than stellar job.
If all you’re using Facebook for is to blast your audience with brand-centric messages, you’re probably not getting much ROI out of your investment in Facebook as part of your social media marketing strategy. If this describes you, maybe it’s time to rethink your strategy. And if you’re interested in maximizing your brand’s performance on Facebook, here are some tips and things to try:
Keep it Real
Like anything, fans can be bought. But fake fans, or fans who don’t care anything about your brand, product or service, don’t do you a whole heckuva lot of good, now do they? Your goal should be to focus on attracting fans that are real advocates for your brand. This takes time and involves planning and developing an integrated marketing strategy that includes giving people reasons to find you on Facebook. That strategy can be augmented by advertising, but know going in that a great fan base usually doesn’t happen overnight. If it does, it’s often likely either a fluke or fake. And once you start building a fan base, spend time getting to know the people who interact with your content—they are the people who will bend over backwards to sing your praises and share your messaging. It’s not rocket surgery, it’s the people business. And it’s not hard to tell the brands who understand that from the ones who don’t.
Use Contests, But Beware
Be careful of the campaigns you run on your page. Contests and sweepstakes will definitely attract new “likes” to your page, but this doesn’t guarantee participants will be active once the contest or sweepstakes is over. They are one step above fake fans, in terms of adding value to the community you’re creating and the ultimate benefits you can reap as a result of your Facebook fan base. When doing contests or sweepstakes, the best practice is to include product benefits in your contest message, which allows new fans to know more about your brand and make them more open to your message. Make it your goal to recruit new customers and prospective customers as a result of a contest or sweepstakes, and design your promotions with that in mind. Also, make sure to include a button customers can click to buy your product online—the easier and more visible, the better.
Act Like a Human
No duh, right? (It makes me feel so mature when I say that, but I can’t help it). Seriously, it really is that simple. Act like a human. Don’t just use your Facebook page to sell stuff and cram your brand and brand messaging down other people’s throats. Nobody likes that guy. In person or online. I say this when I speak to groups or do corporate training all the time, and people always seem to get it when I say that nobody likes it when you’re “that guy.” So just stop it. Act human. Be interesting. Be funny. Create polls and use games or photo caption contests. Post content that’s interesting and relevant to your audience. Make it content that makes them smile or provides value—and chances are good they’ll not only like what it is you’re doing, they’ll interact with you and the community and they’ll share it with their friends. At appropriate intervals, of course, it’s fine to hawk your products, just do so mindfully and don’t overdo it.
Regularity, Always a Good Thing
Post regularly on your wall. Two to four posts a day is good practice. Keep an eye on your page’s insights to help guide your decisions about when to post and the type of content that your page audience is most likely to respond to. Your page’s fans will show you, quite clearly, what resonates with them. You just have to care enough to pay attention. And if you’re working in the set it and forget mode, it’s obvious. To those of us who do this for a living and to your fans.
Easy is Always a Good Thing
This is a no-brainer, but another thing that people often forget. Make it easy for consumers to buy whatever it is you’re selling. Make sure they know where your product is available–online as well as offline. Add a store locator if your product is available in retail locations. Give them reasons to be excited about your products with special offers and great deals designed only for Facebook. Make them feel special, treat them well, make their lives easier, give them what they want—all so easy, yet so often overlooked.
Today people often go immediately to social media channels when they have a customer service issue. And for you and your brand, that’s a 24/7 chance to be a hero. People expect to receive a response from social media channels quickly, so make sure you’ve got a plan in place to man those channels and help customers and prospective customers when they want and need it. And while it’s fine to wait a few hours to answer a question if you must, taking days to reply to customer inquiries, or worse, never replying (and yes, that happens all the time), not good.
Make it Measurable
I can’t tell you how many times we see links on a branded Facebook page that don’t deliver any value for the company. This is where your corporate blog and smartly developed landing pages can help your social media efforts add real value to your integrated marketing efforts. If you’re going to post a link on your Facebook page about a product or service, don’t just link to the home page of your doggone website, link to that specific product or service, or to a dedicated landing page. Social media marketing is marketing and if you’re not ultimately trying to entice your prospects and customers back to your website or to a landing page where you can get them to do what you want them to do or buy what you want them to buy, what is it, exactly, that you’re hoping to accomplish? At least, what is it that you’re using to measure your success?
At its heart, Facebook is a tool—and it’s one of many that are–or should be–part of your integrated marketing strategy. But social media channels, like direct mail or print advertising or others, won’t sell your products for you. Instead, you should understand that Facebook is people. And you can use the Facebook network to personally connect with your customers—to inform, interact with, educate, entertain and serve them. And in the process of all that, you can strategically drive traffic back to your blog, your website, a specific landing page tied to a campaign or to your brick and mortar retail location. And in the process, do what we’re all in the business of doing—and that’s selling more stuff to more people.
Image via HubSpot