As I write this article, we’re just a week past Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that Facebook will soon overhaul its News Feed to prioritize “meaningful social interactions” over content from news sources and brands. Presumably, the goal in this shift is “making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent.” It’s simple to see that this is fallout—the corporate response—resulting from the infiltration of rogue advertisers that may have impacted the 2016 presidential election, as well as statements from former Facebook staffers acknowledging the platform is built to foster addiction to its use.
What does this mean for those of who run businesses? We are not rogue news sources. We are not gigantic brands with massive budgets. We’re not party to any attempts to make anything addicting, for goodness sakes. We’re just hardworking folks who sell great products and offer top-notch service to our customers/neighbors. We provide thriving places for people to work and build careers, and we contribute to our local communities. Are we still going to be able to use Facebook—with its now 1.54 billion users—to help grow businesses?
Truth be told, any of us who nurture business pages on Facebook have long been affected by the evolution of the platform—certainly well before Zuckerberg’s recent “meaningful interactions” declaration. I’ve previously written and spoken about the reality that Facebook is a pay-to-be-seen environment for businesses of all shapes and sizes. For the better part of two years now, reports have been saying that as little as 2% of your business page followers will ever see your posts in their News Feeds. That’s right! People who’ve chosen to follow your business, presumably because they want to stay apprised of what you’re doing, are not being shown your content ‘organically’. It’s an established reality that you need to spend ad dollars in order to really make Facebook effective for reaching customers.
Regardless of the recent declaration from Zuckerberg, my recommendations for making the most of Facebook for businesses like yours is holding steady. Put these tactics into practice as you face the Facebook facts for your biz.
Focus on your ‘home front’ first—your website: Before you fret about Facebook and the business page you’ve established there, take stock of your own website. Your website is the closest thing to property you own on the internet. It’s the one place you can control and direct your customers’ experiences. It’s yours to manage and is not subject to whims and arbitrary changes in the way your pages on others’ social platforms are.
When’s the Last Time You Freshened Content and Design of the Site?
- Do you have simple, prominent lead capture mechanisms so that site visitors can quickly opt in for ongoing interactions with your biz?
- How is your SEO, including all those little things you can do from page to page to help more people find your business online?
- Is your social media properly integrated into the site through links to social platforms, inclusion of quick share buttons, and the Facebook pixel for tracking?
- Have you considered adding a ‘live chat’ function to your site to deepen your customer service offerings?
Prioritize advertising over posting
As a business person, stop thinking of Facebook as social media in that ‘cat video, happy birthday, here’s what I ate for lunch’ kind of way. For your biz purposes, Facebook is an advertising platform. In redefining Facebook, you’ll make a mental shift that will be fundamental in helping you approach things more effectively. By realizing and accepting that you need to spend some money to make it work for you, you won’t get bogged down with minor issues such as how many people follow your page, how many likes your posts are getting, and so on. Frankly, considering how Facebook has and is continuing to evolve, most of those metrics we were taught to watch early on don’t amount to a hill of beans when it comes to helping you achieve your business goals. Even if your page has few followers, you can reach the masses through well-crafted ad campaigns.
What are your goals for using Facebook? Getting people in the showroom, getting more qualified leads, increasing sales during certain time periods—whatever you’re aiming for, define the goals very clearly and specifically so you can build the best ad strategy.
Who are you targeting? To make Facebook ads work really well, you’ve got to target them to the right audiences. Thankfully, Facebook offers ways to drill down to reach very specific people through geography, demographics, interests, even exact workplaces or educational affiliations.
What can you spend? There’s not a right or wrong answer here. Set a budget that is reasonable and go for it. If you’re new to the Facebook ad world, go in with small spends to test the waters. The beauty of advertising on social platforms is that you can quickly see results, assess, and pivot as needed. Facebook owns Instagram, so build campaigns that blend ads across both platforms to best seek-and-find your audiences.
Are you prepared for retargeting? One way to take Facebook ads to the next level is to utilize the platform’s retargeting capabilities. This ties into the Facebook pixel I mentioned earlier. By having the pixel—essentially a tracking code—on your website, you can follow site visitors as they click between your website and Facebook. For example, if someone sees your Facebook ad and clicks it to arrive on your website yet doesn’t complete the action you intend, you can pinpoint them again with ads created specifically to invite them to finalize the action. Yes—this is how the site selling shoes knows how to track you down until you make the purchase! As a consumer, you may see it as intrusive; as a marketer, you may see it as a very effective tool.
What will success look like for you? The more you spend, the more people you will reach—that’s a given with Facebook ads. However, I always say I’d rather reach 50 people who might actually buy what I’m selling instead of 5,000 who do not care at all. You will only know if your ad strategy is working when you align it with desired outcomes, aka “conversions”. See aforementioned “goals” to make sure your ads are poised for success.
How are you getting creative? There is an art to crafting effective ads. From the engaging copy to compelling visuals, you need your ads to convey the right messages in ways that elevate your brand. If you do not have someone on your team who can do this with full professionalism, enlist outside expertise. Remember, Facebook is an ad platform first and foremost; invest in hiring someone with the right skills to help you do it right.
Give credence to other social platforms:
Facebook may be the biggest, but it’s not the only social platform out there. Nurture your presence on other social sites, as they can be just as effective for your business—and perhaps even more so in some instances. All social platforms are moving targets, as those who run them try new things to make them more profitable and engaging. However, you will benefit from consistent, strategic use.
Pinterest: Many people use Pinterest as a search engine. Because of this, businesses in our industry may find Pinterest to be incredibly effective in driving traffic to websites.
Instagram: This visual platform is great for our fashion-oriented industry. Your most common target audiences are likely filled with people who love Instagram and use it incessantly. That makes this platform great for top-of-mind awareness.
Houzz: Like Facebook, this behemoth of the interior design biz has evolved to be more of a pay-to-place environment. However, considering the site users are primarily homeowners ready to make purchasing decisions, Houzz should be part of your digital marketing mix.
Overwhelmed yet? You don’t have to be. I’m here and happy to help you find ways to keep calm amidst all the changes in digital and social marketing. Reach out to me anytime via msg2mkt.com!