Facebook is huge, and it just keeps growing. There’s a reason it’s considered the “King of Social Media.” In its meteoric rise to the top, the brand wiped MySpace off the map, snatched up Instagram and WhatsApp, and garnered a massive 1.45 billion daily active users.
With all of those users, it’s no surprise that they’re raking in the big bucks when it comes to ad revenue. In October of this year, they raked in a massive $17 million in advertising, up from $13.5 at the same time last year.
Of course, there’s two sides to every story. A Weebly study of small business owners paints a different picture, where many proprietors are becoming disillusioned with Facebook marketing because they are not getting the results they’re hoping for. Sixty-two percent note that their Facebook ads “miss the target,” with several noting that they haven’t made a single sale from a post.
These two statistics seem to be in contention with one another. How could Facebook make that much money if marketing doesn’t work? Why is growing your Facebook audience so difficult?
In most cases, it comes down to what you’re posting. There are thousands of case studies that demonstrate the success that a small- or medium-sized business can have through creative, invested marketing.
If you want to be on the successful side of the Facebook marketing spectrum (and who doesn’t?), you have to know the rules and play the game.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts that can get you started on the path to marketing triumph.
DO Post Engaging Content
If we had to really target one aspect of Facebook marketing that matters the most, it would be engagement. For Facebook, engagement pertains to “any action someone takes on your Facebook Page or one of your posts.” This would include things like shares, comments, tagging your business in posts, or checking in at your business.
Engagement matters because it’s the physical manifestation of your success. When 1,000 people like a post, but only 50 like a different post, you know which one is more engaging (and more successful). Then, you can study what it was about post A that made it better than post B, turn that data into strategy, and create that mystical loyal following you’ve been hoping for.
Engagements also lead to a more widespread reach. When your network is really interacting with your content, they are exposing you to their friends and followers. Essentially, a creative and interesting ad campaign can garner its own ROI that goes far beyond the initial investment because of shares, check-ins, and tags.
Perhaps most obviously, engaged followers are far more likely to travel all the way through the sales funnel than ones that don’t care about your social media presence. If you post things that make them think, laugh, cry, or learn, you’re going to stand out more than other brands when they’re ready to make a purchase.
DON’T Only Post Links to Your Site
“Don’t toot your own horn” applies ten-fold when it comes to building a Facebook ad revenue empire. In general, posts that go back to your own website get less engagement than ones that come from bigger names in the field, especially when it we’re talking about small- and medium-sized businesses. Now, that doesn’t mean that you should show off that competitors sell the same product or that Amazon has 10-packs for the same prices as your 5-pack. That would be totally counterproductive. Instead, look for resources like news articles, case studies, customer reviews, and videos that are more general. For example, let’s imagine that you sell custom-built cabinetry. You wouldn’t want to post about Lowe’s summer sale on cabinetry if they’re not selling your product. Instead, you could look for a YouTube video that teaches the audience how to hang their own cabinets. Even if they video doesn’t feature your brand, it’s going to bring people interested in replacing cabinets to your page. Once they’re there, you can woo them with your products and sales-pitch. Better yet, find someone who has purchased your product and ask if they’re willing to write or share about their experience with it. These real-life testimonials help soothe consumers’ natural tendency to question or distrust brands.
DO Study the Algorithm
There’s a rumor floating around that Facebook’s latest algorithm only shows posts from 25-26 friends, randomly selected by the site’s powers that be. The solution?
“Their system chooses the people to read Your post. However, I would like to choose for myself, Therefore, I ask you a favor: if you read this message leave me a quick comment, a “hello”, a sticker, whatever you want, so you will appear in my news feed.
Don’t just “Like”, Facebook requires a “Comment”. Even one word! Thanks!!!
Otherwise Facebook chooses who to show me and instead I don’t need facebook to choose my friends!”
As convincing as that terribly-worded, grammatically-incorrect post is, it’s not quite true. But, there is an algorithm that decides whether or not your post is engaging enough to show up more than once on your follower’s newsfeed.
When it comes to meaningful engagement that sets the algorithm into motion and aids in growing your Facebook audience, there are some key methods:
- Multiple people replying to each other’s comments on a video they watched or an article they read in News Feed
- A page responding to a person’s comment on their post
- People commenting on or interacting with a page’s live video
- People responding to page posts shared through Messenger
- Any interactions that people have with a page post that has been reshared by a user
The more that you can encourage those kinds of interactions, the more likely that your ad will appear multiple times on your follower’s newsfeeds and on their friends’ newsfeeds.
DON’T Buy Fake Followers
At face value, more engagements are more engagements. If it gets you on your customer’s newsfeed, what’s the harm?
Buying support is enough to raise the heckles of anyone searching for your product. Fraudulent fans make it appear that your businesses is dishonest, or at least selling something that real people aren’t interested in buying.
Remember that little comment we made earlier about consumers becoming more distrusting of brands and advertising? That’s owed, in part, to a new phenomenon in which business owners are able to buy followers. These fake pages promise to do things like leaving comments on posts or reacting to your images, but the results are spotty at best.
Worst case scenario, your legit Facebook followers find out that you’ve been buying friends and you add to their distrust of brands. It’s not hard to figure out when someone’s made a shady transaction– The sudden uptick in likes will show up on your follower’s newsfeed. When they check out who your fans are, many will be from foreign countries or have stock photos, key indicators that there’s something fishy going on.
DO Learn About Facebook Posting Trends
Time really plays a major role in whether or not your posts are getting the engagements you’re looking for. Just because you’re a night owl doesn’t mean that your fans are, and vice versa.
There’s a ton of resources for the best times to post on any social media site. HubSpot says that the sweet spot is from 1pm-3pm on Thursdays and Fridays. SproutSocial claims that Wednesday at 11am and 1pm, or weekdays from 9am-3pm are best.
In reality, the time that you post should be solely based on who your audience is. If you run a coffee shop that’s open from 5am-10am, posting about how tasty your latest roast is at 11pm is pretty pointless. People who are up and at ‘em that early in the morning probably aren’t staying up that late, and thus, aren’t seeing your posts.
On the same note, you can’t post about your local 24 hour gym only in the late afternoon. The appeal of a 24 hour gym is that it caters to people who keep odd hours, so promoting it during those off-times is going to attract the kinds of people who are most likely to search for your solution to their workout woes.
Levering Facebook Marketing Successfully
Now that you know some of the do’s and don’ts of growing your Facebook audience, it’s time to develop your own strategy.
One of the easiest traps that small business owners fall into is doing everything by the book. Growing your Facebook audience doesn’t come with a one-size-fits-all instruction manual. There’s nothing that an article, video, or webinar can teach you about how your specific audience is going to react to your specific posting style.
While there are some general directions you can take, what’s most important is flexibility and creativity. Monitor what works and make it better. Take what doesn’t work and figure out why.
Most importantly, remember that customers want to see that there’s a real person behind your business, and they want to know that you’re authentic about what you have to offer.
Growing your Facebook audience has to be about more than making a sale. Trying to fake out the people who you’re selling to is only going to make them suspicious of you and your product. Put the work into building genuine relationships with your customers. Prove that you are worth their time and money. The returns will be more than worth the time and effort.