Why Do You Need a Business Facebook Page?
In the old days, people generally met face-to-face—or at least spoke on the phone—before doing business with each other. We’re too busy for that now—or think we are—and online marketing has streamlined the process of doing business so thoroughly that consumers have largely traded the in-person buying experience for the ease of click-and-buy “relationships.” A business Facebook page (link to USL web page), among other social media platforms, has become a surrogate way of building relationships for a brand and giving consumers new opportunities to get to know a company in a more behind-the-scenes way.
Social Networking is the Internet Equivalent of a Solid Handshake
When online consumers visit your website, they get a sales pitch. This is as it should be; a few years of Internet (and more than a century of advertising) presence have conditioned consumers to a point where they don’t mind a sales pitch, when they’re ready to make a purchase. Advertising has been part of our social fabric for so long that companies are expected to present a credible brand presence if they want to be taken seriously. But we’re still human, which means we still like to do business with other people rather than monolithic brands that lack personality—and more importantly, humanity. Social networking is where your brand can be humanized; think of it as the new way of giving consumers a “solid handshake” and showing them what an awesome person you would be to do business with.
Taking Consumers “Behind the Curtain” of Your Brand
Remember how the “Great and Powerful Oz” became suddenly less threatening when Dorothy met “the man behind the curtain?” Everyone finds it easy to distrust a company and its brand (or a mystical despot somewhere over the rainbow) because we’ve all had experiences that made us feel like small players in a big game we can’t control. Companies can appear cold and inhuman—even small companies—when the people who run them appear to hide behind the brand rather than personally attaching themselves to it. Social media marketing gives you a valuable opportunity to step in front of the curtain and become an intelligent, responsive and trustworthy human in the eyes of consumers.
Social Networks You Should Be Using
It’s hard to keep up with all the online social platforms available to consumers, from giants like Facebook and Youtube to Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter, and thousands of special-interest discussion groups. Some them are more geared toward specific age groups than others, and although most social networks all have their marketing merits, we’ll focus on Facebook in this article, as it appeals to the widest range of demographics and is typically the easiest to use from a marketing standpoint. We’ll talk about what to post, when to post, how often to post and how to create the right kinds of posts to increase your brand’s market penetration and customer loyalty.
How to Use Facebook for Brand Marketing
Axiom number one: people don’t go to Facebook for advertising; they go there to talk about themselves, share opinions and keep up with friends and the world at large. Yes, advertising is allowed—even expected in this day and age—and people don’t usually mind, as long as it’s clearly labeled as advertising. (By the way, it’s not a bad place to advertise, and we’ll talk about that, too.) But your Facebook posts should carry your brand away from the advertising model and into the personal world of the people inside the company. First step: set your page.
How to Set Up a Business Facebook Page
Set-up of a Facebook business page couldn’t be easier:
On your computer:
- Go to Facebook https://www.facebook.com in your browser. Sign in, if needed, to your personal account.
- Click the symbol in the upper right corner of the page.
- Click “Create Page” in the dropdown menu and select “Local Business or Place” for small companies or “Company, Organization or Institution” for large companies and organizations.
- Type in your company’s info.
- Click “Get Started.”
- Click “Add a Cover” in the upper left of your page, then upload an image from your computer.
- Add a profile picture by hovering over the profile picture box, clicking the camera icon, and uploading an image from your computer.
- Click the “About” tab and type in your company’s information. These fields are self explanatory.
- View your page and start posting by clicking “Home.”
It’s easier to make a business account on Facebook on a desktop device, but if you need to do from a smart phone, check out this article on setting up a page on your mobile device.
Easy, right? Next we’ll discuss how to use Facebook for business.
Show the People Behind the Brand
When you post to your company page on Facebook, it should humanize your brand rather than overtly advertising it. This doesn’t mean you can’t share a special promotion here and there, as long most of your posts are about topics with their own intrinsic human interest elements. Here are some examples of acceptable posts on Facebook:
- Videos of life inside the organization, showing people at their jobs.
- Slide shows of company photos. Facebook can create these for you, and it’s an easy option to choose and create every time you post.
- Links to posts on your blog, if you have one.
- News stories about your company and its people.
- Philanthropic work your organization is doing in the community.
- Shared posts from customers and their companies.
- Memes and news tidbits, both related and not-so-related to your products and services. The proverbial cat-video-style post can actually do a lot to endear you to customers.
- Photos from trade shows you attend.
- Videos from your Youtube channel, as well as videos posted natively to Facebook. (We’ll talk more about this below.)
- Sneak previews of upcoming products and promotions.
- Shared posts from local news organizations that have a human interest element.
When you write a Facebook post it should have a very different voice than that of your advertising. Yes, advertising copy has a style that’s much more casual than a college textbook, but it still reads like advertising, and there’s no faster turn off for your Facebook fans, if you do too much of it. Your company Facebook posts should be written much like your personal posts: from a human perspective. Your tone should be one of humility and information-sharing rather than boastfulness. When you post a video of an employee working, write about how interesting their work is or how dedicated they are or how much fun they have on the job. When you’re posting about your company’s good works in the community, point the attention at the people or organization you’re helping. When you post a news story, be humble and socially conscientious in your tone. When you post a missive from trade show, talk about all the fascinating people you’re meeting and how exciting the industry is rather than making it about the products you are promoting at the show.
Be yourself—you, the human behind the brand—because this is the side of your company people are looking for on Facebook. They can go to your website for straight-up advertising, but they want the “solid handshake,” when they meet you socially.
What NOT to Post on a Company Facebook Page
Even with such a wide range of allowable posts on a company Facebook page, some topics should be considered off limits. Unless your organization and its customers/followers are innately religious or political in nature, it’s best to stay away from religious and political topics in your posts. Remember that the purpose of social networking is build as many relationships as possible, and these topics are certain to alienate potential customers on one side or the other of any philosophical beliefs you may have, especially in today’s strangely polarized society.
Also avoid voicing opinions on controversial news topics; even if your intentions are good, it’s amazing how easily Facebookers can jump to inflammatory conclusions, and one negative comment can set your post on fire much faster than ten positive ones.
Facebook for Business Networking
Think of Facebook as the online equivalent of a business networking luncheon and act accordingly. Use it as a way of staying connected, not only with your customers, but other partners who can help you cross promote. If you make connections at a trade show with people from other companies who share some of your target audience, cultivate those social networking relationships by promoting each other. You can even adjust your Facebook settings to allow different groups to see different content you post.
Tag people sparingly, as it places your post on their feed (assuming their feed settings allow it), but when it’s appropriate to tag a colleague from a trade show, a customer, or anyone else, do it. By getting your post onto their feeds, you put it in front of their friends and fans, expanding your audience and pushing your brand into new social channels.
How Often Should You Post?
Axiom number two for Facebook branding is: frequency. This is the one of the oldest rules in the advertising industry because agencies and market researchers have long since understood that frequency of brand exposure is directly proportional to sales. Ads in newspapers have traditionally been run at least six times, and usually more, to make a lasting brand impression on readers. Radio and television commercials need to run many times per week and on an ongoing basis to sink into the minds and hearts of viewers.
Facebook is also a branding medium that relies on frequency, although some of the reasons are unique enough to be worthy of discussion, and they have to do with Facebook’s sharing algorithms. Facebook rewards some content more than others, based mainly on the popularity of both the post and person or company posting it. The more likes and other engagements your company’s past posts have received, the more likely your new posts will stay at the top of a larger number of feeds. And a more popular individual post also has a longer life in a larger number of feeds. This makes perfect sense if you think about Facebook’s business mission, which is to sell advertising based on view counts, so naturally they want to engage the largest number of people possible with user-created content. When lots of people are engaging with content you’ve posted, Facebook is making more money, so naturally their algorithms keep your content alive longer—on a larger number of feeds.
Remember that Facebook is a very momentary medium, and even a popular post is doing very well if people are still seeing it a day or two later. Remember also that, although you may occasionally look at your company’s page and think, “Wow, we’ve really been beating people to death with all these posts,” it doesn’t look that way to anyone else in the Facebook universe. Most of your Facebook fans rarely, if ever, go to your page. Most of the time, they see your posts in the context of their own feeds, and they never click over to studiously examine the post density of your company’s page the way you do. Furthermore, not everyone is on Facebook all the time, so they may entirely miss a post you make on Tuesday morning, if they’re away from Facebook that day.
At a bare minimum, you should post two to three times per week. Any less, and it’s very difficult to build up the brand exposure and Facebook algorithm “mojo” you need to connect with your target audience.
The Lowdown on Facebook Ads
This is a powerful marketing tool and one that’s not difficult to use. Few forms of advertising allow you to drill down into specific demographics as well and as easily as Facebook ads. You can select age and gender ranges, geographic guidelines, even add tags related to your products and services that further qualify the audience who will see your promoted content.
You can set budgets according to several criteria that are easy to understand and manipulate, so your advertising dollars won’t get away from you. Facebook provides analytic information about how many people have seen your post and interacted with it, which is also helpful. All these simple features make it easy to run split marketing campaigns, as well. Here are some examples of splitting your advertising in ways that can tell you a lot about your audience and the quality of the messages you’re putting out:
- Change the wording or image in a promoted post and create a second version, then watch the Facebook statistics to see which one garners more engagement from your chosen target audience.
- Run the same ad targeted to two (or more) different audiences to gain intelligence on what demographics are responding to your message.
- Launch the same campaign more than once, but at different times of day/different days of the week. This will tell you when your target audience tends to be using Facebook, and you’ll be able to target them more efficiently in the future. Generally speaking, at the time of this writing, the highest Facebook traffic days are Thursday through Sunday, and the busiest times are 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., but split marketing will show you the specific habits your target audience, which may differ from the general population. If your customers are all local, optimum posting times are cut-and-dried, but if they are all over the country, remember that 80 percent of the US population lives in the Central and Eastern time zones, so you’ll get the most engagement if you post during peak times for those zones.
Place Videos on Facebook
Youtube has utterly changed the marketing landscape. By offering a free platform that allows literally anyone to post video content online and then embed that content on a website, email a link to it, or share it on a smart phone or computer during a meeting, this medium puts incredible power in the hands of any marketer who chooses to use it. It’s made even more powerful by the fact that the overwhelming proliferation of video content is slowly but surely turning us into a culture of viewers rather than readers.
A lot of businesses are leveraging this tool, but many are not. If your competitors are not using video content marketing, and you are, you have a distinct advantage in the current environment. When you post video on Facebook, people are more likely to click and engage with you, and to spend more time in the presence of your brand. Longer brand exposures generally equate to higher brand loyalty, so video can be a powerful part of your social networking arsenal.
How to Share a Video on Facebook
There are two ways to share a video on Facebook: in a post that shares a link to the video (usually on Youtube) or by uploading the video to Facebook itself (sometimes called Facebook native videos). Both methods should be used because each has different merits.
Uploading to Youtube, then sharing the link to Facebook means your Youtube channel will get credit for the views, even when people watch it on their Facebook feeds. Higher views increase your search engine mojo, which in turn makes your video easier to find in Google searches, which increases the size of your viewing audience and allows you to send more people to your web page in the video description, assuming it is properly optimized and has a link back to your site.
Uploading the video to Facebook doesn’t make it findable on search engines, nor does it count toward your Youtube views, but it has one very strong advantage over a Youtube-linked video post: more people are likely to see it within the confines of the Facebook platform. Why? Because part of Facebook’s current agenda includes competing with Youtube as a video networking platform, so they tend to “turn up” the exposure of native videos to all audiences compared to Youtube links and compared to Facebook posts that don’t contain Facebook native video. Thanks to this healthy, business competition between two of the world’s richest companies, your Facebook-native video gets an extra boost in your customers’ feeds, and it doesn’t cost a dime.
Final Thoughts on Facebook Branding
Facebook gives you an opportunity to communicate much more about your brand than is appropriate in your advertising or on your website. It’s a way of saying “We’re not just a company; we’re nice, living, breathing people, just like you, and by the way, we make an awesome product and run an honest business.” Used properly, Facebook can be a very effective substitute for the “solid handshake” in a business world that, like it or not, is happening online much more than in person.
Good luck, happy Facebooking, and if you need more help with social networking, contact me through the US Logo website at www.uslogo.net. We’re helping clients do amazing things with online marketing in Wichita, Kansas, and across South Central Kansas.