If you were to walk into a crowded room of business people and ask that question, you’d probably get a lot of different answers. You’d have people tell you that it didn’t work for them, that Facebook’s processes and algorithms hurt small business owners. You’d probably also get people who tell you that it is the best tool in their arsenal for communicating with their customers and reaching out to new ones. And, if you’ve tried to use the platform in the past for business, you may have your own opinion on the matter too.
So what’s the truth?
The reality is that in today’s economy, there are a lot of different options for businesses to stay in touch with their customers and to reach new prospects. Social media offers ways for businesses to get in front of a lot of people at relatively low cost. And Facebook seems to be the first place a lot of companies start to build a social media presence. But, just because everyone else is doing it, does that mean that you should too?
Who exactly is on Facebook?
Obviously if you are going to take the time to build a presence on any social media platform, you need to know who you are speaking to.
Facebook is the single largest social media platform in the United States and in the world. According to a Hootsuite report published at the end of 2019, Facebook has almost 2.5 billion active users each month. It is the third most visited website (following Google, which is number 1 and YouTube). 71% of American adults are on the platform.
Facebook is largely touted as a consumer social media platform. So if you operate a consumer-centric business, it may be painfully obvious that you need to develop a presence on Facebook. But what if you offer strictly business to business products and services? Is it important to have a Facebook presence then?
Facebook demographics tend to skew a little older than other social media. That can be a great thing for business, as these individuals have stakes in the companies that they work for.
Interestingly, almost 75 percent of high-income earners use Facebook. These high income earners tend to be decision makers for their employers, which would indicate that marketing on Facebook might be a good way to reach those individuals as well.
Facebook is also the most popular social network for college graduates, with 74% of all of those individuals active on the platform. LinkedIn (perceived by many as being more desirable for business-to business marketers) reaches 49% of high earners and 51% of college graduates.
Regardless of whether your offerings are consumer related or for business, you can find success by sharing your information on Facebook.
So what is Facebook Marketing?
Many people make the mistake of assuming that you are only marketing on Facebook if you are paying for your space on the media. Really anything you (or your employees) do on Facebook that is relevant to your brand is marketing.
According to Merriam-Webster, marketing is “the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service”. If you use Facebook to promote, sell or distribute your products and services, it is considered Facebook marketing. You might find that you are doing that on your personal profile, by sharing information about when your company will be open or closed, what products are popular, etc. You should definitely consider establishing and maintaining a business Page as your primary method for distributing information. A Facebook business page has a great deal of information that is not available on a regular profile. You can see data about your posts and the people on your page, providing valuable information that helps you tweak and modify your strategy. You can see when most of your Page followers are online. You can also schedule posts and create drafts for future use.
Additionally, a business page offers you the opportunity to share some of your company information. Thes information may already be available on your website, but paying attention to keyword placement and maintaining these facts on your page can help build and support your SEO efforts.
Ultimately, a company presence on Facebook can offer a powerful place for you to share deals and sales with your customers, and it can also be a powerful tool for you to share your business story:
- Why do you do what you do?
- What are you passionate about?
- What makes you feel that all of the hard work and energy that goes into your business are worth it?
- Why should people do business with you?
- What makes you special?
In addition to being powerful relationship builders, sharing answers to these questions can help people refer you to new customers. And keep in mind that these messages are difficult to convey en masse in virtually any offline medium.
What do Facebook users expect when they log on? What do they want to see?
Time on Facebook is actually dropping. In 2019, eMarketer reported that users spent only about 38 minutes each day on the platform, and that is expected to drop slightly in 2020. If people are only spending 38 minutes, you need to be sure that the content that you post is relevant, eye-catching and worthy of attention!
They look for news
During times of crisis or national turmoil, Facebook is often perceived as either a blessing or curse. Keep in mind that 52% of American adults get news from Facebook. If the news is all negative, they tend to eventually stay off the platform. But if the news is informative, they will keep coming back for more!
If a user who is scrolling through Facebook, sees an article, reads the intro and clicks over to a new media site is no longer considered active on Facebook. Once they are done with that story and hop back to the platform to find more, they are active again.
15% of Americans use Facebook to shop. We will discuss more what that means for businesses in terms of using the platform for actual selling.
They look at stories and Groups
Facebook users want to stay connected with their friends and businesses they are passionate about on Facebook. They want to see positive, funny things that their friends and neighbors are doing, and want to see positive, community minded posts from businesses they follow.
How can you best leverage Facebook for your business?
Because of the power of Facebook, it’s no surprise that businesses of all shapes and sizes are using the platform to share their information. Currently there are over 90 million small businesses with active pages on Facebook. Some of them also host groups and are active on Messenger. (Facebook actually keeps track of how long it takes you to respond to customers through Messenger, so if you open it up as a tool for communication make sure you check it often!)
Over the past few years, there has been a lot of criticism about “organic reach”. Facebook has been vocal about the fact that not all posts are presented in the news feed. The reason for this is really quite simple. On average, in any given individual news feed, there are over 1500 posts that would be eligible to appear per day. If the average individual only spends 38 minutes per day on the platform, it would be impossible for them to see even 10% of those. Facebook attempts to show the ones that are most likely to resonate with the individual reading, based on past preferences, engagement, and popularity of the available post.
Obviously, for businesses putting out content, that might not sit well. As of December, 2019, the average reach of a business Facebook was 5.5%. If you have 1,000 followers on Facebook, only 55 would likely see the average post.
So what can you do to increase the chance that your post will be seen by your fans? There are actually several tactics that you can use to build reach and engagement without paying.
Ask people questions about what they’d like to see from you, what they think of things that impact your business. Encouraging comments increases the popularity ranking of the post which improves the chance that your post will show in others’ feeds.
Post when your audience is online.
Your followers’ Facebook activity appears in insights, and if you choose to schedule a post, Facebook actually recommends the next ideal to post based on last week’s activity. (Be cautious of this tool when there is a major event. If everyone was online last week watching for election results, or offline last week because they were watching the Super Bowl, make adjustments as you need to.)
Posts with photos generate a much higher engagement than those without, Take advantage of that!
Post high quality, original videos.
We know that the general attention span is waning, but videos that are longer than 3 minutes are actually great! Facebook “likes” when they see that your audience stays on past the one minute mark.
Create a Group.
Consider starting a new Group based on your brand Page. A Group can be where you foster discussion, education, problem-solving and, yes, solid entertainment about the topics that matter to your audience.
Post often and consistently.
Minimally, businesses should be posting 3 times a week, and pages with fewer than 10,000 fans should post no more than once per day. A posting plan and calendar really helps to ensure that this is done regularly. Remember that you have the tools available to schedule posts ahead of time, so don’t wait until the last minute to try to come up with something to post today. Be sure that your posts are professional and error-free.
Remember that all of the content that you post to Facebook should be eye-catching, relevant and engaging. Avoid posting about highly charged controversial topics, unless they directly affect your business. Try to include posts that are humorous and light. Try to limit the number of sales-oriented posts to 1 per week.
Facebook can be a lucrative tool for marketing for business to business and business to consumer customers alike. The power of Facebook marketing will come from your ability to manage the platform in a professional and consistent way, and your commitment to the medium through the usual trial and error that comes with all types of marketing. Since Facebook is constantly evolving, it’s important to stay on top of the latest trends, learn about algorithm changes and how it will affect you and much more.
So, those people in the crowded room that said that Facebook didn’t for them? They probably needed to commit to the platform as they would any other marketing tool, and they decided, since it was “free” to just give it a try without any real commitment.
Do you need help developing or implementing a Facebook marketing strategy? Sometimes, businesses just need a little guidance and direction to get started, and we just help them monitor their efforts, and help them navigate the changes that inevitably come along. Other times, we provide ongoing education and support to help build a professional business presence on Facebook.
Either way, Platinum Passports Marketing is here to help you establish your business objectives, identify your target audience, and create and distribute engaging and share-worthy content. Please send us an email at [email protected], or give us a call at (509)842-0782.