In my first article on Facebook, I discussed the broad opportunities it provides. In this follow-up feature, I will cover the specific ways companies can reach out to new and existing customers via Facebook, by reaching the right users, at the right times, with the right messages.
Trends in Facebook use
Looking back on the birth of Facebook in 2004, Mark Zuckerberg noted in a letter to shareholders: “It was built to accomplish a social mission – to make the world more open and connected,” – a purpose it continues to strive for. Facebook’s key to success is the power it gives to people using the platform as part of their everyday lives, by arranging events, chatting with friends or sharing photos and viral videos.
The biggest shift in how people use Facebook today is the ‘Like‘ button, which has given users a distinctive voice and ability to positively align themselves to a post, photo or brand. Therefore, it is crucial that companies understand how people are using the site when creating campaigns. To connect with your audience, you need to appeal on a personal, targeted and real level that implicitly encourages them to associate themselves with your business and engage with your Facebook presence. To achieve this requires two key stages – recruiting and engagement.
Recruiting Facebook fans for your company
Stage one is all about recruiting new Facebook fans for your business, or attracting ‘Likes’ to your Facebook Page. You want to build a core of users who will ‘Like’, post comments or share your page posts among a large network of their friends. You can target your prospective fans geographically by country and city, and demographically – by gender and by age, for example. Keywords are an important tool for businesses, as they enable you to show your adverts to those who already ‘Like’ activities, companies or products closely aligned to your business.
Once you have identified the key audience groups and prospective Facebook fans for your business, it is then important to think about when your target customers will be online before deploying your advert to ensure maximum interest and relevance. At TBG, we analysed more than two billion impressions to illustrate the benefit of understanding core audience groups’ Facebook usage habits through our ONE Media Manager™ platform. We found that, by creating a deployment strategy based on the time of day their target audience is logged on, a company can improve its return on investment by up to 116%.
Fundamentally, Facebook is a social network and its advertising reflects this fact. In my previous article on Facebook, I talked about Sponsored Stories – which, like Featured Stories, are by far the most successful type of Facebook advert. Here, a user’s activity on your Page is amplified outwards to their friends and family, who have sight of their activities on the social network. You can also buy these adverts on a cost-per-click basis, and our data has shown that Sponsored Stories reduce the cost-per-fan (the cost of acquiring each Facebook fan) by 18%.
Building engagement with your audience on Facebook
This takes us to stage two, engagement. Once you have your fan base, you then need to ensure you are speaking to them, via posts to your company Facebook Page, in a way that resonates with their interests and encourage them to share and comment. The interaction is important in building your brand’s online presence, because Facebook has an algorithm that monitors how much your fanbase likes, comments or shares your posts. This is known as the EdgeRank, and it means that, if you have a very high engagement rate, more of your fans will see your posts, giving them an opportunity to engage and thereby continue the cycle.
Overall, it is clear that there is a big gap in the market for small businesses to inject their own personality into their Facebook campaign. For decades, word of mouth has been the best method for small businesses to grow, build a customer base and encourage brand loyalty. Now the world has a new digital word of mouth medium, which allows experiences to be shared among our customers’ network of friends to achieve interaction on an instantaneous and far greater scale than ever before. The challenge for every company is how to exploit it.