When it comes to inexpensive, or even free, highly targeted marketing to over a billion people, you can’t beat Facebook says Gemma Went
Ever since announcing my engagement on Facebook, my newsfeed has been filled with wedding-related ads. Venues, photographers, event planners, florists, bridal apps (yes, those really are a thing) and more. I won’t lie, I’ve clicked through to more than a few, and let myself dream about my big day.
That just proves the power of Facebook. You can find your audience and engage with them without reaching out personally, or spending a ton of money on marketing campaigns. And to be frank, if you’re not already on Facebook as a business, you’re missing a trick. A big, lucrative trick. But let’s go back to basics for a moment. What is Facebook?
Facebook is the ultimate online social network. It’s an online platform primed for sharing every kind of content, from articles and ads to live video, memes and more. Even your nan has an account. With over a billion active users worldwide, the potential for your business is immense.
As with every other social media channel, it’s a good idea to put together a content plan for Facebook. This enables you to factor in the big picture goals of your business, as well as planning for peak times in the industry, and any time sensitive offers you’d like to promote.
Planning ahead also allows you to batch and schedule your posts in one sitting, so that you never neglect your page, regardless of how busy you are. Tools like Buffer, Hootsuite and Smarterqueue are really handy for helping with this.
I always recommend an 80/20 split of Facebook content – that means 80 per cent of your posts should be shared from other sources, or helpful tips and ideas, and 20 per cent should be promoting your own business. The idea here is that you will promote engagement with your followers, rather than marketing “at” them.
Personal vs. professional
Many still think of Facebook as a personal social network, rather than a business opportunity. Both schools of thought are correct.
There should be a clear boundary between your personal profile and your business page. And yes, you do need a separate business page – without one, you can’t play around with Facebook advertising. It can also feel a little invasive if your customers, or potential customers, try to add you as a friend.
For this reason, I use my personal cover photo to highlight that they have arrived on my personal profile, and to point them towards my Business Page. To do this yourself, simply upload a high-quality image to a free editing tool such as Canva, and add a text overlay.
Facebook is a fantastic resource when it comes to finding and learning about your market – all through a tool called Facebook Graph Search, accessible through the main search bar at the top of your screen.
Facebook Graph Search is a semantic search engine – that means it looks at the full context of your search phrase, rather than the individual words, and it can give you some real insight into your competitors, and your prospects.
Start by investigating your competition. By reviewing and analysing how your peers are marketing and engaging with customers you can decipher what works and what doesn’t. Feed that information back into your own marketing strategy.
If you don’t know much about your competition, use search terms such as:
- Pages liked by people who like [insert your page name]
- Pages liked by fans of [insert page name in your niche]
- Pages liked by [your broad target group] who live in [your local area]
I’d also recommend you research your target audience too – find out what interests them, other than planning a wedding, booking a glamping holiday or attending an open-air event. This data, once compiled, can help you put together really targeted marketing messages that will appeal to the right people. Try searching for:
- Posts by people who like [insert your page name]
- Posts by people who like pages similar to [insert your page name]
- Posts by people who live in [your local area] who like [your page/a competitor’s page]
Pages vs. groups
There are two ways to communicate with your audience on Facebook, one is through your business page, the other is through groups – either your own, or ones you’ve been invited to join. I often get asked which is better, and to that I say… neither. And both.
Pages and groups have different purposes, different benefits, and different possibilities – they’re simply not interchangeable.
A Facebook page is like a personal profile for your business, and allows your fans to follow a brand. It’s very easy to update, you can post whatever you like (following the Facebook guidelines of course), and you can personalise it in line with your brand. You also have access to Facebook Insights, so you can monitor the performance of each of your posts, and it’s essential if you want to run ads.
However, there are a few downsides. For starters, everything is out in the open. You can’t stop people from seeing what you post (or what others post), and communication (especially between fans) can be difficult to manage. You will also have to fight the newsfeed algorithm, which tends be tougher on page updates than group updates. It can be difficult to grow a page organically, so you will need to work hard at it.
A Facebook group is a place to bring people together who are interested in a particular topic. It’s an incredibly powerful tool to build connections, but it is definitely more about a personal presence than a brand.
You may be reaching a narrower audience, but it will also be a more focused one. Again, it takes some work to build a large, engaged audience, but it’s worth it.
The pages/groups toss-up will always depend on your intentions. Do you want to promote your business? Do you want to establish yourself as an expert? Do you want to cultivate a community? Do you need to run ads? Think about all of these things and then work out which is right for you.
One of my very favourite things about Facebook is the Facebook Live function. Streaming live video is huge in the marketing world, and is only growing momentum. It’s a brilliant way to engage with your followers in a more intimate way – they start seeing you as a person, as well as a business, and they have the chance to ask questions, live.
With anything event-related, live streaming can be incredibly impactful. It provides you with a unique opportunity to show your facilities in use, so that your customers get a real feel for what their experience could be like.
Facebook ads are a great equaliser. Smaller scale businesses can now explore paid advertising opportunities without the need for a big-brand marketing budget. For a relatively low spend, you can get in front of a wider audience of your choice, promote your unique offering, and encourage them onto your mailing list.
Advertising can be a scary prospect if you’ve never done it before – Facebook is a fab way to dip your toe into that pool. Facebook also has some really handy guidelines to help you get started.
Whether you’ve been using Facebook as a business for a while, or your experience is limited to the Candy Crush variety, these simple tricks can help raise your profile and reach more customers (without having to invest all your time or all your money).
I have a free series that shares my top hacks for each of the social media platforms, including Facebook. If that sounds good, use this link to sign up gwent.co/hacksseries and they’ll be in your inbox quicker than a quick thing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gemma Went is a digital strategist, business mentor and Bride to Be. She’s been working in the social media world since before Twitter even existed and has been teaching businesses how to harness the power of this online tool ever since. She was the social media director at two London agencies, the first to create a social media strategy for the BFI London Film Festival and the first to put fashion bloggers on the red carpet next to the press at the Global Fashion Awards. Go here for more on Gemma: gemmawent.co.uk and, of course, Tweet her here @gemmawent
- Buffer – www.buffer.com
- Hootsuite – www.hootsuite.com
- Smarterqueue – www.smarterqueue.com
- Canva – www.canva.com
- Facebook advertising guidelines – www.facebook.com/business
- Social Media Hacks Series – www.gwent.co/hacksseries