Social media, led by Facebook, has evolved in the last year – much to the confusion and dismay to small business owners, bloggers and online entrepreneurs. Although there are new challenges presented by limited reach and changeable algorithims, it comes to one simple fact – the people you are trying to reach are on Facebook.
On a regular basis, someone writes an article that circulates on (ironically) Facebook claiming that FACEBOOK IS DEAD. Usually, these articles are pointing to some other social media that small businesses should now be using and maybe a paid course the author created to help them do just like that.
Let’s get real – Facebook is a business. It is in their shareholder’s best interest that the algorithm show us just enough of what we want to see that we stay on it and then structure the remainder in such a way as to be income generating. And that’s okay. Because even for the small business owner or blogger with a very limited budget, smart digital marketing strategies include a place for Facebook.
Go Where The People Are
Ever wonder if the people you are trying to reach are even on Facebook anymore? It can feel like you’re speaking to an empty room when your Facebook reach struggles to reach a handful of your fans and comments are slow to trickle in. But consider this – look up a major player in your niche. How many people are there?
If you are an equestrian professional or business serving the horse loving market, there are 141,000 people who you know are at least potentially interested in what you have to offer on Facebook. Would you like a piece of that business? Then you should be too! The key to an effective Facebook strategy lies in identifying where your audience is and how to reach them. In making your strategy, you will want to consider:
- when is your desired audience on Facebook so you can tailor posting times?
- what content is most valuable to your audience so you can entice them to click over to your site or email list?
- are there look-a-like audiences you can harness for an effective FB ads campaign?
Walk The Walk – Looking Professional
When my husband was teaching brand new Army officers, the first day of class he would ask for a volunteer. With a quick internet search, he would locate that individual’s social media accounts and browse what they had put online – asking the class to evaluate the accounts for professionalism. The lesson? Every single one of your future soldier’s can do the same search.
Everyone with an online identity – including professional athletes, small business owners and bloggers – creates their own first impression. Everything you post, share and comment on adds one more brick to your online brand. If you want to cultivate a relationship with your audience on Facebook, ensure that your activity on Facebook builds that brand in a positive way.
- Think very carefully before you share/post anything negative – the only people you’ll attract by acting like a “mean girl’ are other “mean girls”
- Be aware that the reputation of the people, organizations, and pages that you associate with (pages you like, comment on, etc) will flavor your audience’s perception of you
- Complaining, even if you are correct, can create the impression that you are part of the problem, when a professional should be part of the solution.
Content Real Estate – Lease vs Own
If there is only one thing that you take away from this post about Facebook, this one would be it. It is vital that business owner and blogger on Facebook understands that you do not own the “digital real estate” of your Facebook page, it is leased from Facebook. There have been some widely publicized instances where Facebook has shut down pages that the owners have invested untold hours, money and resources into building. Every single fan that had not been added to an email list was essentially lost – especially for those organizations that essentially used their Facebook page as a website. While I understand that it is tempting when you are starting out and the budget is tight, it is free to create a page on Facebook because they own the page and all its information. Make the investment in a self-hosted website, it will pay off in the long run.
Driving The Facebook Page Train
But, and this is a pretty considerable but, it is an incredibly useful communication vehicle. The key is a digital marketing strategy that turns Facebook fans, likes and comments into clicks on your website and opt ins to your email list so that you can interact with that person on digital real estate you DO own. Which begs the question – if Facebook is where my audience is now, how do I get them to my site/email list?
- Give your Facebook audience a reason to sign up for your emails and visit your website by not giving away all of your best content on Facebook. “Want this amazingly delicious best ever cookie recipe? Here’s how you get it!” (hint- not on Facebook)
- Create (and use!) an email list opt in. There are SO many options available, MailChimp for one.
- Take the time to research your audience and discover what content is valuable enough to them to leave Facebook!
What You Need To Remember
- Facebook is like an aggregator – even if it isn’t someone’s favorite social media, they have an account and use it log in to other sites.
- Being on Facebook has become a social norm. It is part of the standard for having a professional public identity and helps to establish trust and familiarity.
- You do not OWN your Facebook page or fan list, Facebook does. That means Facebook can take it away or delete your page if they’ve decided you have violated their Terms Of Service – and they don’t have to tell you why.
- Facebook is a communication vehicle – use it to bring people to all the valuable content that you create on your website and through your email program.