Before social networks were social networks, it was the social network (and there’s a movie to prove it).
We’re talking, of course, about Facebook, the behemoth that put social media as we know it on the map and which continues to push the medium forward, year after year.
And while Facebook’s demographics have shifted over the years – namely, its user base has gotten older, as kids head off to Snapchat and Instagram – it is still the titan of social media, particularly for marketers; last year, Facebook boasted an average of 1.23 billion daily active users (DAU), and 1.86 billion monthly active users (MAU), and its advertising tools have continued to grow more sophisticated, offering some of the most compelling and powerful features that the internet has ever seen.
Is your business on Facebook? New research suggests that almost a quarter of small businesses aren’t – and we feel like it’s high time to change that. Facebook is a powerful tool that offers some incredible value for brand marketing – if you know how to use it properly.
Here’s our one-stop guide on effectively using Facebook to promote your business:
Optimize Your Page
Believe it or not, there was actually a time before Facebook had pages specifically for businesses. Today, the platform offers a ton of unique functions that your brand should put to work. The good news? These features are pretty user-friendly, and it’s easier to get started optimizing your Facebook page than ever before!
Consider your visual branding
Let’s start with the basics! It’s important to make sure that your profile picture and cover photo are striking, and, more to the point, that they actively reflect your business’ branding. Generally speaking, we recommend using a logo as a profile picture; this makes your page immediately recognizable to anyone who is seeking it out. If your “business” is more of a one-person affair – say, if you’re a real estate agent or a consultant – then a high quality headshot can work just as well; after all, in cases like these, your personal appearance is your brand. As a rule, though, we advise against using group shots or pictures of a building or sign as profile pictures, as shots like these can be muddy and hard to see when they’re reduced to thumbnail size on a feed. And in general, avoid low res images or cheesy stock photos like the plague – users can spot them from a mile away, and they destroy your credibility.
Instead, save that beautiful landscape picture or that charming group photo for your cover photo, the long rectangular image that takes up residence next to your small, square profile photo. Your cover photo is a chance to refine your messaging; if your profile photo identifies your brand, think of the cover as a chance to explain what your brand does, or what makes you stand out in your field.
Get creative with your cover photo! You may want to explore ways in which you can actually integrate your profile and cover images (as two parts of one whole picture, for example), or use these images to guide your reader’s eye to a different part of the page (by highlighting a call to action, for instance – more on this in a bit). Play around with text on your cover photo, just don’t go overboard; 20% of the image is a good rule of thumb. And remember mobile users, who make up a pretty substantial portion of the Facebook audience; before going with a header image, check to make sure that it looks good on both desktop and mobile devices.
One last thing? Remember that people can click through your profile picture and cover photo. Don’t let them go to an empty space! Instead, write a brief description that helps set your brand apart from the rest even more; if you include a link, you may even be able to turn a few lookers into leads.
Maximize your URL
A unique, clear URL is a vital part of helping your brand stand out – both on Facebook and via search engines like Google. If you don’t set out a custom URL for your brand’s Facebook page (particularly if you have a somewhat common name), you may end up with a string of random numbers or letters tacked on, which looks unprofessional.
Fortunately, it’s simple to set and control your unique URL on Facebook. Go to facebook.com/username and choose your page from your dropdown menu, then update the URL to reflect your brand standards; you may need to check availability before settling on a URL extension, so have a few ideas ready.
Add a call to action
The addition of call to action buttons was one of the most momentous things to ever happen to Facebook. Now, instead of simply acting as a front page for your business, your Facebook profile could actually be actively put to work gathering leads. It’s been awhile since these additions, of course, but we still marvel at their efficacy. But you’d be surprised how many brands don’t put their Facebook page to work with a call to action!
First, you’ll want to know your goals, as this will dictate what kinds of CTAs you put in place. Do you want to generate website traffic? Encourage sign-ups for your newsletter? Use Facebook as a contact form? These are all valid, and they’re all options that you can build into your Facebook profile by selecting “Add a Button” (located on the right side of your business page) during set-up. From there, you can personalize your message and dictate the landing page to which users should be sent.
And while it’s not strictly a call to action, make sure that your “About” section is fully filled out, complete with your address, contact info, and bio. You may also want to consider putting Facebook’s “Shop” tab to work listing what you have for sale and encouraging purchases in-app, if that applies to your business.
Create and Share Unique Multimedia Content
So, your Facebook page is set up and optimized – now it’s time to fill it! Facebook is all about encouraging engagement and interaction with your audience by way of posts, updates, and content. For best results, we recommend a two-pronged approach to Facebook content: Sharing content that leads to a different landing page, and creating content that is unique and native to Facebook.
Creating and sharing content
Creating content is one of the single most important things that your brand can do to stand out in the crowded digital landscape. Crafting meaningful, high quality, and value-oriented content is a surefire way to reach curious searchers on Bing, Google, or Yahoo by way of SEO; having a roster of diverse content – including blog posts, infographics, quizzes, listicles, and video – also “primes the pump” for your social media efforts.
Why? Well, since you’ll always have something new to share, you’ll never have to let that Facebook page sit dormant; instead, you can keep circulating through new (and old) content, making sure that your social profiles are always creating value, whether by increasing your brand recognition or by sending leads to your site, where you can guide them through your conversion funnel and generate business.
The icing on the cake? All of this “referral traffic” that you get by linking to your posts on social media looks good to search engines like Google, which in turn elevate your posts on their ranking pages, helping you capture increased “organic traffic” as well, adding value to your SEO efforts. A rising tide really does lift all boats!
Creating native Facebook content
Facebook has grown and developed by leaps and bounds since we started using it a decade or so ago. Where once there was little to do but post links, text updates, and photos, Facebook now offers a rich array of built-in multimedia options that you should use for your brand, including live streaming video, event posts, special offers, and more. Posts like these are a great way to offer an inside or behind-the-scenes look at your company, to celebrate holidays or capitalize on the viral news of the day, or to encourage comments or solicit feedback.
Besides showing that you’re engaged and knowledgeable, taking advantage of Facebook’s native tools will help you reach a bigger share of your audience than simply pumping and dumping content; in our experience, the platform tends to favor posts that don’t lead to a separate landing page, allowing you to reach more consumers organically, all while showing a personalized touch that promotes brand loyalty.
Be Social: Foster Conversation, Feedback, and User-Generated Content
Often we forget the “social” aspect of our social networks. But taking too much of an insular focus on your own needs and content can actually be a major turn-off, hurting your marketing efforts in the process. Remember, always, that social media is a two-way street!
Above all, remember your audience, those people eager to connect with your brand and ready to engage with your content (and maybe even spend their money). Respond to any positive feedback or complaints in a timely, responsible manner; seek out comments and opinions on your posts; and consider using Facebook to run a contest, which is a great way to encourage users to like and share your page and its content. Your Facebook page is the first side of your company that many people are going to see; treat it as you would any other customer service outlet, and be kind, courteous, responsive, and on-message to keep your past and future customers happy.
Speaking of happy users, did you know that you can put their positive energy to work? We’re referring to user-generated content (UGC), like reviews and testimonials; content created by users for users is incredibly appealing to online audiences, who tend to trust their peers more than advertisers for honest recommendations (and who can blame them?). Make UGC a vital component of your Facebook marketing; encourage your happy customers to leave reviews, or share photos of satisfied customers using your product or connecting with your team (with permission, of course!). This good “social PR” can go a long way toward making you stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Finally, remember that people do like professionalism – but many value authenticity even more. To that end, don’t be afraid to use Facebook as you would in your day to day: Share the relevant content from outside sources that interests you, like and comment on other pages, and interact with as many people as possible. Projecting an aura of creativity, responsiveness, and trustworthiness may come back to reward you in a big way.
Expand Your Reach with Paid Advertising
We may have used the phrase “organic reach” a few times already in this article; this term refers to the number of people who see one of your Facebook posts automatically, or without you having to do anything else. Capitalizing on organic reach was once one of the cornerstones of most marketers’ approach to Facebook; for a long while, however, organic reach has been in massive decline on the platform, from 16.5% to a mere 6.5% for the average Facebook page, according to one study.
The jury is out on exactly why this decline in organic reach is happening; many chalk it up to algorithmic changes on the platform, while others have quietly accused Facebook itself of throttling organic reach in order to encourage brands to make use of its paid advertising tools.
So while Facebook may never become an exclusively pay-to-play marketing platform, it is important to know how to use its Ads features – they may well be the future of social media marketing, if the spending habits of many major brands and agencies is any indication. The good news? Facebook Ads is remarkably easy to use for any number of digital marketing goals, and it offers some unbelievably sophisticated and powerful features.
For a complete rundown on using Facebook Ads, check out our definitive guide, “How to Create a Successful Facebook Ad.” The social network’s advertising tools are genuinely too expansive and loaded with quality for us to go into too much detail here without blathering on for a few thousand more words.
But we will draw attention to a few of the more appealing aspects of Ads, perhaps in the hopes of swaying anyone who’s currently sitting on the fence to take the leap. For a start, Facebook offers some of the most sophisticated targeting and audience building tools in history, allowing you to drill down on demographics, interests, and locations in a way that ensures that you only reach the ideal audience for your brand. Once you’ve reached that potential customer, Facebook also makes it easy to “retarget” or “remarket” to them; this means that if a user spends some time on your site, they will automatically see your ads in their feeds, keeping you top of mind in order to clinch that sale or retain that key client.
Ready to Talk?
Who knew Facebook could be so complicated? This social media platform has grown and shifted and adapted in ways that we bet would even surprise Mark Zuckerberg himself, and it can be challenging to keep up if you’re going it alone.
That’s where we come in! Our team of social media aficionados has plenty of experience putting Facebook to work creating value for businesses of all sizes, across a range of industries. Want to see what unique advantages Facebook can offer to you and your team? We’d love to talk shop! Drop us a line today to get the conversation started – and, hey, why not follow us on Facebook?