Though the value of social media to businesses of all sizes has become fairly self-evident, it’s not enough to simply have an unattended Twitter of Facebook account—particularly when the latter has become such a go-to destination for consumers in search of products and services.
Thorough online marketing campaigns must increasingly take a Facebook presence seriously, and that means ensuring your page is easily found.
Those searching for products and services are increasingly turning to mobile devices, and Facebook remains the most frequently used smartphone application. For businesses that lack the resources to maintain a traditional website, Facebook pages often represent their best means of connecting with consumers online. And even for businesses that do have websites, Facebook pages are another important means of increasing visibility and engagement with current or potential customers.
“It’s vital to have your Facebook Business Page correctly optimized with some SEO best practices in order to maximize conversions,” Positionly’s Kasia Perzynska argued last year. “First of all, there is a correlation between a well-developed social presence and your search rankings and in the end, a Facebook Business Page becomes a ‘second home page’ for your online business.”
Indeed, Facebook’s versatility as a platform that combines business information and social connectivity makes it an ideal way to reach those interested in your products or services. And you can rest assured your competition is making the most of their Facebook pages, meaning you may well be left behind without similar efforts.
Facebook certainly isn’t the only social media game in town, but it’s absolutely one of the very best places to start. Making the most of your presence will require a little effort, though.
“Creating a Facebook Page for your business is quick and easy, but turning it into a tool that generates sales is a bit more challenging,” SproutSocial’s Jennifer Beese recently noted. “With so many features and tools at your disposal, coming up with your Facebook marketing strategy might seem overwhelming—but it doesn’t have to be.”
So how can you increase the chances consumers find your Facebook page, and how should you maximize the value associated with them doing so? We’re here to help.
Planning Your Facebook Legacy
You may be tempted into quickly creating a page and calling it a day. For smaller businesses that lack the time and resources needed for robust social media campaigns, just setting something up may feel like enough of an accomplishment.
But you should take any social media presence just as seriously as you would treat more traditional marketing strategies. This is a prime opportunity to create branding and messaging that could reach masses of people.
In other words, put some thought into this. Begin by determining the primary objectives associated with your Facebook page. Are you interested in simply expanding brand awareness, increasing sales or leads, directing traffic to your website or developing stronger relationships with your consumer base? Perhaps your business is attempting to facilitate some combination of the those goals. You may even view Facebook as an ideal means for learning more about your customers’ needs, interests and shopping habits.
Given that you’ll (hopefully) be sharing plenty of content on your Facebook page, you’ll also want to give some thought to the kind of voice you’ll use and which kinds of posts will most effectively engage your target audience. Your page should become a living, breathing part of the Facebook ecosystem, and a little big-picture thinking can help when it comes to executing more granular tasks.
Finally, if your business has a staff large enough to diversify responsibilities, some personnel planning may also be in order. Facebook allows you to assign users to one of five different roles: admin, editor, moderator, advertiser or analyst. Each role entails a different level of capability and access, so you’ll have some options in terms of how you assign job functions to those within your operation.
In many respects, planning your Facebook identity and campaign may be an outgrowth of your organization’s other established marketing strategies. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t hurt to do some forward-looking thinking or discussion before diving into the project.
It’s All in a Name (and URL)
Consistent branding is important in virtually all things, and social media is no exception. That first means selecting a name for your Facebook Business Page that’s either identical or very close to your actual business name. You don’t want to risk confusing consumers, particularly in a world where different businesses may have similar names.
Nor do you want to lose out on search traffic. So in addition to adopting your brand name for the page, you should also adjust your page’s URL so that it matches your brand and page name. This will be different from the dynamic URL that Facebook automatically provides you upon signing up.
Facebook will prompt you to categorize yourself, and you should also make use of the available subcategories. The more users know, the better.
If you’re a brick and mortar operation that does its business locally, make sure to select the “Local Business or Place” category. This will automatically give you control of the Facebook Place associated with your business (which may or may not already exist depending on whether a customer has previously generated one through checking in). Like Foursquare, Facebook Places allows users to check in while at a particular location or business, thereby generating an update to their news feeds.
That’s the kind of free advertising that reminds any local business about the value of social media.
A Complete Profile and ‘About Us’ Section
Featuring accurate and up-to-date information about your company certainly projects professionalism, but it can also inform consumers and increase the chances they do business with you. To that end, you should upload an avatar and cover photo that are ideally consistent with the imagery used on your other social media platforms and website. Busy users could go elsewhere if an inconsistent logo leads them to believe they have the wrong page.
Once you get the visuals right, it’s time to flesh out your profile information with anything a potential or current customer might want to know.
“This should be obvious, but it is a step too many business owners forget,” writes Forbes’ John Rampton. “Visitors want to know details about where business, such as where you’re located, what time you are open, what food you serve, or what products you offer. In other words, it helps to highlight the best qualities of your brand and makes it easier for potential customers to locate you outside of Facebook.”
The “About” section is a particularly valuable opportunity to deploy some SEO-friendly keywords and include basic but useful information. In the “Overview”—depending on what’s applicable—you can add an address, a phone number, hours of operation, price range and links to a website and/or social media accounts. Eateries can also add a link to their menus.
You can also add more detailed information under Page Info, including the basics found in your Overview, short and long descriptions of your business, the products or services offered and—for local establishments—information about parking, payment methods or preferred attire. And while there’s a designated place to add website information, some recommend adding links to websites or social media in your short description, as well.
Local businesses should be especially sure to add or update their addresses. Facebook will use that information to display a mapped location in the About section’s Overview.
Though the value of complete and detailed profile information may seem self-evident, many businesses take shortcuts. In addition to the disservice done to page visitors, major search engines like Google are also inclined to give your page a higher ranking when it features specific contact information and relevant keywords. Though you shouldn’t go overboard with awkward attempts to stuff your page with keywords, it’s certainly worth sprinkling a few throughout your profile.
Content Is Still King
Now that you’ve set up the basic infrastructure of your page, it’s time to maintain it. This is no time for complacency, and nor should it become a platform for unimaginative or repetitive sales pitches. That’s not the path to Facebook users’ hearts.
Instead, your business should posts regularly and endeavor to inform, entertain or build connections with your audience. Sharing content with photographs or videos can be especially advantageous.
Though you should feel free to include short, attention-grabbing posts or share content from others, a blog outside of Facebook can also supply you with plenty of relevant material.
“By setting up a blog on your website and then sharing the posts through your Facebook Business Page, it gives Google another place to find your business and hopefully increase your rankings,” writes Business 2 Community’s Bernadette Coleman. “You’ll need to post regularly on your blog using target keywords in the headline and H2s [subheadings].”
Whatever you post, the key is developing a smart, targeted content strategy and sticking with it. Accruing Likes and shares can yield immediate dividends in terms of exposure, and—better yet—they can improve your page’s ranking in search results.
To that end, it’s also wise to write descriptions when sharing content or uploading images and videos. The first 18 characters of every post act as the meta description displayed in search results, so your introductory text should be catchy and ideally include a keyword or two.
As is the case with most marketing efforts, you want to be noticed. But there’s also something to be said taking the long view. Rather than beating Facebook users over the head with overt advertising, hook people with content that’s useful or interesting.
As Rampton puts it, “By frequently posting and sharing quality content on Facebook, you’re engaging with your fans, which makes your page more visible. Whether it’s a funny image or informative video, content that relates to your brand and provides value to your target audience will help get your page noticed.”
Thinking outside of the box is a virtue. From poll questions to captioning contests, there’s no shortage of ways to attract attention and encourage interaction.
In terms of content quantity, balance is a good thing. Try to post at least one update per day, but don’t go overboard by flooding users’ news feeds with a constant stream of updates.
Yes, taking full advantage of Facebook marketing requires some time, resources and savvy. Just remember that the return on your investment can be superior to any number of traditional methods.
Like other social media, Facebook is a two-way street—and that’s a good thing. While it affords customers a space to publicly express criticism, it also gives you a chance to respond to those criticisms. And if you’re doing business the right way, you’ll almost certainly find plenty of praise and reaffirmation that the rest of the world can see.
The important thing is that you’re responsive and accommodating, and that should be nothing new to any business that’s genuinely committed to quality customer service.
It’s particularly crucial that you respond to public comments in timely and constructive fashion. Page visitors may very well notice if you do otherwise. You can also enable a private messaging option on your page, allowing visitors to contact you directly instead of leaving a public comment. Whether they comment or message directly, you can also opt to simply send them a private message in response—a potentially preferable option in more delicate circumstances.
Whereas traditional customer service interactions tend to be completely hidden from public view, Facebook (and other social media) can highlight your company’s penchant for treating people the right way.
Resources permitting, you should also attempt to engage users in more casual conversation—expressing thanks for a kind review or applauding a worthy comment. It’s generally easier to retain existing customers than it is to attract new ones, so developing deeper connections should be at the heart of your engagement strategy.
However you opt to connect with users, the important point is that you avoid using your Facebook presence as one-dimensional soapbox.
As Rampton puts it, “Remember, you want to converse with audience on Facebook, and not just shout sales pitches at them. A great do that is by engaging and interacting with them. The more this occurs, the better opportunity you have to improve your search ranking.”
In other words, yes, engagement is certainly an intrinsic good yielding dividends among clientele—but it doesn’t hurt your SEO bottom line, either.
Other Facebook Goodies
Beyond all of Facebook’s basic functionality, there are some pretty nifty features you also may want to think about.
The first things to mention are the call-to-action buttons introduced in late-2014. Depending on your business type, there are a number of options allowing users to easily and directly do something on your page. The buttons include Sign Up (e.g. for a newsletter), Book Now (e.g. for reservations), Contact Us, Use App, Play Game, Shop Now and Watch Video.
The Contact Us button would be wise for virtually any business, particularly if the private messaging option isn’t enabled. It’s all about encouraging that engagement.
Along those lines, 2015 marked the appearance of Messenger for Business. This makes it especially easy to connect with mobile users attempting to directly contact your business. In a cyber world where email just doesn’t seem quick enough, the messaging system creates the appearance of timely and responsive service.
Finally, the Messenger application also includes a payment feature that just so happens to be free. So aside from all the opportunities for engagement, there’s room for a little commerce, too.
One separate note: There are external tools that can help you manage and review your page’s performance. Two that come to mind are Sprout Social and the multi-use Google Analytics. If you really want to fully exploit your page and measure its success (beyond the use of Facebook’s own performance metrics), it’s worth pursuing the extra help.