For the last few years, ever since GrowTraffic moved across the beautiful county of Lancashire to settle in Bacup, in the Rossendale Valley, we’ve been members of the Valley at Work networking group. (If you’re a regular to my blog, you’ll know that I’ve mentioned Valley at Work before, most recently as part of the Rossendale Business Awards.)
On Wednesday, it was my turn once again to enter the bear pit and host the meeting’s discussion, and the subject suggested to me by Valley at Work Chairman, Rob, as one that would be useful for the other members, was social media. After a bit of discussion, we decided to make that a little bit more niche still and focus on Facebook, and specifically on how small businesses can make their Facebook efforts more effective.
I’m relieved to say that I think the presentation went down reasonably well – well, no one booed me anyway! – and a few people even said that they found it useful. So, in order that you, lucky reader, can share in the glory bestowed upon those lucky hearers of my words of wisdom, I will reproduce the talk here for your delectation. Don’t say I never give you anything!
Welcome from GrowTraffic
As you’d expect from any knocked together presentation, the first two slides were mainly concerned with welcomes and introductions, so they don’t require to be shared. Let’s move along and get into the actual presentation…
Facebook For Business
Facebook is the world’s best known and most used social media networking site. Since its inception at the tail end of the noughties, billions of us have signed up for a Facebook account and it has now become part of our daily lexicon.
But it’s not just for personal reasons that we use Facebook; very quickly, savvy businesses cottoned on to the potential of using Facebook to advertise their business, and since then the number of people using Facebook to promote their business and grow their customer base has soared.
And if you’ve ever queried just how big or important Facebook really is in the lives of ordinary people, just take a look at these statistics here;
As you can see, lots of people are using Facebook and using it for business too, so if you’re not, that’s an awfully big market you’re missing out on!
Is Facebook Working?
However, despite the fact that so many people are clearly using Facebook as part of their business’ marketing strategy, there was a little report published by Social Media Examiner back in 2015, which stated that “most small business marketers don’t know if [their] Facebook efforts are working”.
The report breaks this down further, stating that;
“Despite the fact that 92% of small businesses agree that social media is important for their business and that the majority use Facebook for their social media marketing, most also report that they don’t know whether their Facebook outreach is ‘working’.”
The Social Media Examiner report further goes on to explain that statement by defining ‘working’, stating that;
“Working may mean building brand awareness and relationships with customers. It could also mean bringing in more leads and sales. The bottom line is that the majority of small businesses either don’t know if Facebook achieves the goals they’ve set or it does NOT achieve those goals. It could also mean they have no goals or they haven’t bothered to measure their progress toward goals. Shockingly, despite the high numbers using Facebook, just one in three self-employed respondents characterise Facebook efforts as ‘effective’.”
Clearly a worrying statistic; as with any business strategy, what’s the point of doing something if you have no way of knowing whether or not it’s working?!
At this point I asked the other business owners present how many of them used Facebook as part of their marketing strategy for their small business; most of the people there put their hand up to say that they did. I then asked them how many of them monitored the success of their campaign, or felt that it was worth their while; possibly 3 people nodded in the affirmative, and they were the ones with tech savvy businesses anyway. Hence, it would seem that the report was vindicated.
So if you’re a small business who uses Facebook as part of your marketing campaign, here is a very quick guide on how to tell whether or not it’s working.
Review Your Facebook Page Insights
Once you’ve got more than 30 followers on your business page, Facebook will give you access to their Insights pages. This is an easy-to-use and easy-to-understand analytics system that will tell you at a glance how effective your business page is; it’s free and incredibly useful, so make sure you use it regularly to get the most out of your page.
And to help you utilise your Insights page, I’ve got a couple of little tips for you;
- Rather than measuring your Page Likes, monitor instead your Reach and your Post Engagement figures; these are more important than your likes, because not everyone actually clicks ‘like’ on a post, even if they have read or engaged with it, so it’s better to know how many people have seen your post rather than how many people liked it.
- Don’t forget either that your Insights page is not private, which means that you can take a sneaky peak at anyone’s Insights page; a great opportunity to check out your competition and see what’s working for them.
Understand What Works
Facebook understands that, as a small business owner, you need to understand that your Facebook marketing is working in order to justify continuing to use it – and Facebook wants you to continue using it – so the information they give you in your Insights page is remarkably detailed. The important thing that you need to do once you’ve got it, is use it.
As seen here in the column on the left, you can view a list of your posts with the dates and time they were published, so you can see at a glance what type of posts were successful, on which days and at what times. With the column on the right, you can view your post engagement statistics, with the blue bar showing you the post clicks and the pink bar showing you the reactions, comments and shares.
The important thing to remember though, is not just to look at your statistics regularly but to use them too. With this information, you can determine the most effective post subjects and medium for you, as well as the best times to post to ensure you reach your specific audience. For example, for one business, posting videos at the weekend might get the biggest response, whilst for another, scholarly articles posted in the morning might be what the audience engages with. The key thing though is not to guess; use your data to make educated decisions, because the truth about your statistics might just surprise you.
Understand Social Referrals
In addition to the analytics provided by Facebook themselves, you can also get an awful lot of information from your Google Analytics that will help you analyse the success of your Facebook marketing. From your Google Analytics dashboard, you can click on the Facebook link on the left-hand side and easily see which pieces of your website’s content are receiving traffic via Facebook.
As with your social media posts, this will show you which pages or blog posts from your website are garnering traffic from Facebook when shared and which are being ignored, so you can then convert that into useful information about what you should be posting from your website to Facebook, and what type of content you should be focussing your creative efforts on.
Understand What Converts
Moreover, the other thing to remember with Google Analytics is that you will be able to see how much of your traffic actually converts from Facebook. In the example here, you can see that, from the 15,000 Facebook referrals recorded, 55 of them actually converted into newsletter signups.
Use Google Analytics’ URL Builder
Another little tip, which will help you monitor how successful your Facebook posts are, is to use Google Analytics’ URL Builder. This is a great little tool, from which you can set up a Custom Dashboard in GA and track the performance of your activity. By populating the Campaign Content box, you can assign a unique URL to every post and thus see at a glance what is working and what isn’t.
Improve Your Facebook Marketing
- Use Your Information
Once you’ve got the hang of regularly monitoring your Facebook statistics, you can then begin to use that information to understand how well – or otherwise – your Facebook marketing is working and begin to make improvements. With the information you gather, you will be able to work out what types of posts you should be publishing, as well as the best time to publish to reach your target audience.
- Understand Your Audience
Moreover, the information you collate will also give you a better indication of exactly who your target audience may be, by showing you who is looking at your posts and what else they look at and engage with. Assessing your audience periodically is crucial to the success of your marketing strategy, as it may be that the people responding to your Facebook content are different than you expected, and you may be able to tailor your posts more effectively with just a few simple tweaks.
- Learn How To Use Facebook
It’s important to remember too that a key tool in your arsenal when improving your Facebook marketing is actually Facebook itself. Facebook wants businesses to use it so it provides many tools, free of charge, that will aid you. There are also a huge choice of online tutorials, webinars and articles on the internet that can teach you how to use Facebook effectively, so instead of thinking that you can’t use Facebook, get in the mindset of teaching yourself and ask the internet ‘How To’. With the guidelines provided by Facebook and other sources, you will able to work out which is the best approach for your individual circumstances – such as whether you need a Local Business Page or a Group – and thus reap greater rewards from your efforts.
- Have A Plan
One of the biggest reasons that business owners don’t know whether or not their Facebook marketing is working is because they don’t have a plan; if you don’t have any targets to reach, you’ll never know whether or not you’ve reached them! Set yourself some simple goals and write them down in a Marketing Plan – even if that is only a rudimentary list of bullet points – and then refer back to them regularly to see whether or not your efforts are achieving anything.
Here’s some more Facebook statistics for you!
As I’ve already mentioned, one of the most important things about marketing anywhere is that you need to have a basic understanding of the medium you’re utilising; after all, you wouldn’t place an ad in a magazine if you had absolutely no idea where that magazine might be going or who might be reading it. Facebook is no different, so if you’re going to use it effectively, you need to understand a little bit about who is using it and how.
Again, it’s advisable to go into this in a little bit of detail, especially in relation to your specific industry – and Facebook and other sources will provide you with this information freely online – but here are some basics to get you started;
- 18 billion people use Facebook every day; that’s a huge worldwide audience that your competitors are targeting and which you can’t afford to ignore.
- 03 billion people access Facebook daily via their mobile phone; that’s a lot of people out and about, on the go, who just might be in your area and looking for your business.
- Age 25 to 34, at 29.7% of users, is the most common age demographic; if this is your businesses’ target audience, then the chances are they’re on Facebook and, if you’re not, they’ll be visiting your competitors instead. Even if this is not your target demographic, then there’s a still a good chance your audience is on Facebook to a greater or lesser degree now and, whilst the percentage of Facebook users decreases as the age bracket increases, it’s wise to consider who your target audience will be in 5 or even 10 years’ time. They’re definitely on Facebook now.
- 50% of 18 – 24 year olds check their Facebook profile when they first wake up; that’s a lot of young people checking their Facebook a lot of the time and prioritising it above other tasks. Again, if this is your target audience, then you need to be on there, grabbing their attention first thing.
- There are slightly more women than men on Facebook; the way this statistic is worked out is slightly strange, but it equates to about 55% of Facebook’s users are female to 45% male. There is also anecdotal evidence that women are more interactive than men, so if your business particularly targets women, this is a forum that you certainly shouldn’t be avoiding.
- Facebook’s highest traffic occurs mid-week between 13:00 and 15:00; this is the time when the most people are actively on Facebook, although it is not the time of peak engagement, which means that more people may potentially see your post if published at this time, but they may not be any more likely to interact with it.
- The time of peak engagement is on Thursdays and Fridays in the evening; this is the time when most people are likely to engage with a post, so if you want more people to like or share your post, then this is the time to be posting.
Tips To Make Your Facebooking Better
It’s not about stats and figures though; once you’ve understood your audience and learned about the platform you’re using, the only thing left to worry about is the content you’re actually putting out there. All of these things need to line up, because even if you know exactly who your audience are and when they’re on Facebook, if the posts you’re publishing are horrendous, then they won’t get the slightest bit of attention from your fickle audience.
Fortunately, there are a couple of tips that you can use to make your content interesting and to increase the chances that someone will like it;
- Engage your audience; there’s nothing worse than boring, passive posts! Think about your own Facebook interactions and what you would respond to, then do the same for your audience; publish memes that may make them laugh, or articles that may urge them to comment, or ask questions they can’t help but answer.
- Give your audience a reason to follow you on Facebook; we all want something in return for our loyalty these days, so make your Facebook audience feel special by offering special deals, discounts or giveaways that aren’t available anywhere else.
- Have a personality; people don’t engage with boring and faceless corporations, they engage with other people, so create a brand personality and express it through your posts. You could do this by posting photos of your employees at work, or photos of staff outside work, express opinions about things – within reason – or pass comment on industry developments, or even celebrity news.
- Make yourself appealing to people; humans are naturally drawn to things that make them happy and will remember something that made them laugh, so try to be happy and upbeat in your posts (that is, unless your brand identity is grumpy, in which case you can be jokingly miserable in an appealing sort of way!). Remember that people don’t go on Facebook to be miserable, so show them something that will make them smile and cheer them up.
- It’s OK to be silly; remember that Facebook is not a B2B marketing platform, it is a social networking site, so it is not the place to be corporate and business-like. Instead, you can be informal and have fun, interact with your audience, go slightly off-topic and show the quirkier side of your business. You’ll be amazed by how well people will respond to a little bit of silliness.
- Respond to your audience; this is possibly the most important point of all, and it may seem like a chore, but it’s vitally important that you try to respond to people as quickly as you can, or at least within a day. After all, if you’ve taken the time to engage with a company, the least you expect is for them to respond to you; if you don’t, they won’t bother commenting again.
- Create FB events; these are a great way of increasing your audience engagement and work on multiple layers, especially if you can do an actual offline event with the online one. Admittedly, you may need to think a little creatively depending on what your business is or does, but there are usually ways of creating small events whatever your business sector. The rewards will be worth the effort.
- Post regularly; once a week is not enough! If you’re going to do it, you might as well do it properly, so you need to be posting several times a day if you possibly can. Thanks to the 2:1 rule, you can re-post 2 pieces of other people’s content for every 1 piece of your own content, so that will reduce the burden, but again get creative about what to post and you’ll be able to easily accommodate the frequency. Also, if you’re savvy about your social media and make use of a scheduling platform, such as Hootsuite, you’ll be able to reduce the time burden even further and make your Facebook posting much more economical.
- Use a variety of media; it’s a myth that posts without photos don’t get seen, but they do tend to be noticed less by busy people scrolling quickly through a packed news feed. If you can, use photos to illustrate your posts so that they stand out more, and if you can get your head around videos, even better; even a short video of 10 seconds has a highly increased chance of getting seen by more people, so get your phone out and start filming everyone!
- Go local; both due to the way Facebook works – your virtual friends are probably also your real-life friends – and the fact the internet generally is becoming increasingly local, the majority of people viewing your Business Page will be local, so promote local content whenever you can. The benefit of this is twofold; not only do you help boost your page’s profile but you also help to promote other local businesses, making friends and building your offline network along with your online one. Bonus!
Get In Touch
So there we have it folks, some simple tips on how you can get more out of your Facebook marketing without it taking up much more of your time, because everybody else is doing it, so why aren’t you?
And don’t forget, if you feel like you’re going to need a little bit of extra support – maybe to help you locate your analytics, identify your target audience or make your posts more exciting – whether you’re based in Rossendale, a member of Valley At Work or one of the hundreds of thousands of businesses in the UK, please just get in touch with us using any of the methods below and we’ll be happy to help.
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