Some background on Facebook

Facebook profile page

Facebook profile page

Facebook is the single most popular search engine in the Western world. It boasts 800 million users worldwide (figure October 2011) and, most importantly for us, 74,000 Territorians (figure October 2011).

Facebook users create their personal profile and after that can start linking their accounts to ‘friends’ so that they can see each other’s published thoughts, photos, videos and links.

For marketing, Facebook offers a few different tools within the tool:

  • Business pages (these are just like personal profiles but are based around a business)
  • Groups (these are like online forums within Facebook and can be public or private)
  • Events (online invitations to events, when people respond by clicking ‘yes, no or maybe’ they will attend, all their friends get to see the invitation, thus spreading the invitation ‘virally’ beyond your initial reach)
  • Advertising (this service allows you to create ads and have them appear within Facebook for users you have targetted on demographic factors like age, gender, relationship status, interests, education facility/course, and most importantly location)

Facebook is constantly changing with new tweaks released weekly and features changed, improved, removed, or downgraded regularly.

Some reasons to use Facebook in your Social Media Marketing

Because almost half of all Territorians are members of Facebook, it makes sense to ‘fish where the fish are’ and share content through this channel. However, given the ever-changing nature of Facebook AND the fact that you are creating content on a platform owned by someone else, it is risky to make this your sole online channel.

I believe best practice involves setting up your own website (preferably with a blogging component) and using this as your central hub for online marketing. Produce and publish your original content on your site but use Facebook to help share and disseminate links to your material. This way, if Facebook changes its rules tonight, or even closes, you would still be left with a solid foundation of online marketing material.

Facebook business pages have been well referenced by Google in the past. All these things are open to change, however the fact that content you share on your business page will be visible even to people NOT using Facebook means this can be an efficient and effective way to start building awareness and making yourself available to potential customers.

Even though I would argue your own website is a more substantial way to lay the foundations for your online marketing efforts, if you find it easy to use Facebook and you are familiar with it, then it makes sense to go with your strengths, provided it is a natural place for your target audience to use. And be careful with your assumptions. One in three Northern Territory Facebook uses is aged 40 and over.

How to use Facebook for Social Media marketing

This is a very difficult passage to write when there are so many variables. So here are the questions to consider:

  • Does your target market use Facebook?
  • What sort of material would you share on Facebook? Simple questions work well in generating engagement (would your target market talk back to you in Facebook?) and research tells us people enjoy getting access to special privileges when connecting to a business through Facebook.
  • How ‘shareable’ is your planned Facebook content? Success and visibility in Facebook is largely determined by how actively people respond to you or share your content with others.
  • How complex is the purchase decision-making process for your products/services? If you sell products/services that involve low to medium amounts of thinking and comparison, I believe the jovial, public nature of the Facebook environment will suit you well. If your customers need to do some serious research and complex comparisons, more detailed blog articles and/or white papers might be a better use of time and energy.
  • How much kudos to people get from associating with your brand? The public way that people who ‘like’ business pages get associated with a brand is perfect if it is ‘cool’ or ‘important’ for your clients to display such associations.

Once you have decided that Facebook suits your business and marketing needs, the next step is to determine which Facebook tools apply because each have strengths and weaknesses.

Facebook business pages will allow you to share links to blog posts and host polls and competitions (using approved competition apps or by embedding links to competition mechanisms on your own website). However, note that only one per cent of people who ‘like’ a business page ever return to it. This means that you must rely on your content alone engaging interest and being interesting so that when a ‘fan’ of your page sees it come through their news feed they will be inclined to click like or comment or share. This is why you must spend time thinking about what your audience cares about and be as strict as a magazine editor – magazines don’t just publish gunk for the sake of gunk, they publish stories that will make readers STOP and pick up the magazine or keep turning pages.

NOTE: When setting up your Facebook business page, I urge you to consider a custom welcome page to give people context to your business, let them know what content you plan to share or how you plan to use Facebook, and to encourage them to click ‘like’ to stay part of your community. I suggest you read the RITE Series article called Three FREE apps for adding custom tabs to your Facebook business page for more information.

Facebook events can spread your event invitation far and wide. To be successful though it is best to be concise with your invitation and to actually create an event of VALUE. What is in it for me? Too many businesses use event invitations badly, staging ho-hum ‘sales’ events instead of ‘stop everything I must go to this’ events.  Try to hold the ‘events’ card for events really worth attending. One of the bonuses for using Facebook event invitations is that you get to send a private message directly to people who RSVP as a ‘yes’ or a ‘maybe’ to remind them about the event and, where appropriate, of the need to buy tickets if it is a ticketed event.

Facebook groups can be fervent pools of activity but ONLY if your audience is given to passion about your field of expertise or requires a high level of technical expertise and sharing.

Facebook advertising can be powerful BUT you need to be diligent with a few things:

  • Write a very specific ad for the very specific target market you are writing for – remember if it is just single, women 35-45 write something specifically for them (they are the only Facebook users who will see your ad)
  • If you set a click on your ad to take people to your website, please send them to a specific page or article on your site that relates directly to the topic of the ad and NOT your homepage (better still, make a new page specifically for each Google or Facebook ad you run – it reinforces trust in people that they have indeed landed at the right place)
  • I suggest paying per click instead of per impression – it strikes me as more accountable
  • Be stingy with your budget at first. While you are experimenting, set a small campaign budget of $50-$100 and set your cost per click to 15 cents or thereabouts. Facebook will groan and warn you to bid more but ignore them. Let some ads run and get a feel for whether you are on target or not before changing your ad or your amount per click

At all times with Facebook, it is important your material generates an action with your audience. This way, Facebook’s ‘edgerank’ score for your material will be high enough to increase your site visibility.

Good examples of Facebook use for Social Media marketing

Humidity Gifts and Homewares in Darwin makes great use of Facebook. Mel shares a barrage of new and enticing gifts and gives lots of loot away to keep interest and make ‘liking’ the page a valuable thing to do. You can read the RITE Series profile called, Humidity, a strategy that pours likes and comments.

A simpler use of a Facebook page can be seen with the Humpty Doo Clip Clop Club. This small community group now has 80 likers who arrange horse riding outings through the Facebook page. Take a look at the RITE Series profile called, Humpty Doo Clip Clop Club.

Things to avoid when using Facebook

Do not use Facebook simply as a place to pump advertising. As a business, I believe your place in the ‘social’ network is as a privileged guest so we need to make sure what we share is valuable and relevant to our target market.

If you are unclear about how or why to use Facebook for your marketing, stop. It is best to enter with a clear purpose. If you do not use Facebook much yourself, maybe devoting a few minutes a day to the network will help you become more familiar. Grab a laptop or tablet and have a play while watching tv in the evening – a growing number of Australians do this already!

If you have examples of Top End businesses using Facebook effectively, please share details in the comments field below.