Getting started with… Facebook by Leanne Forshaw Jones

Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg has a lot to answer for, he appears to have taken a lot of our free time away and given us a less personal place in which to carry out our interactions.

But what about the advantages this brings to businesses? If market research consultants of old could tell you that all your customers would be in one place, willingly and openly labeling themselves with their hobbies, activities, likes and demographics you’d have invested right?

So maybe, if your brand is right, it’s time to look at a Facebook strategy. Especially so if you’re a consumer facing organistion. Here’s our top ten rundown of the Facebook basics, even if you’re a user already, these tips might help polish your skills…

#1: Is Facebook right?

Ok, it sounds obvious but do ensure that Facebook is right for you. Like Twitter, Facebook is synonymous with modern marketing strategies and people often just thoughtlessly set up profiles. You have to do the research…

#2: Have you anaylsed the audience

We hear a lot on the news of Facebook’s milestones – we know it’s getting ever closer to one billion users worldwide. Stats like that would make any strategist want to jump onto the site, but before you do, just carry out a short exercise to see how many of your audience are on the site.

It’s not commonly known but there’s a great feature in the advertising section of Facebook that helps you analyse audiences before committing to any advertising spend on the site. Just visit this page (www.facebook.com/ads/create) and take a look at the filter options.

As you play with the filters, which include employer, age, gender, relationship status and likes, you’ll see a realtime figure on the right hand side of the page which will tell you how many users fitting that description are using Facebook right now. This is really useful and a great starting point for setting up a page on Facebook – without having to actually advertise at the initial stage.

#3: Have you set up the right profile?

Anyone setting up a brand page on Facebook now will have to set it up in the ‘Timeline’ design (come to think of it anyone with a brand page should have properly changed it over to Timeline now!).

Timeline pages can have a number of managers and administrators who can log in as themselves onto the site and then ‘ghostwrite’ posts as a brand. Your administrators can be changed at any time but still select carefully and make sure it’s people who understand the brand tone and will post in line with that.

This new feature was rolled out compulsory for brands at the end of March this year. Visually it works very well for businesses as there’s a stronger visual element to it. There was also some research done earlier this year which showed that Timeline provokes more response and engagement from fans because of the visual benefits. The next few points will tell how to use it…

#4: Do you look the part?

Visually your Facebook page needs to represent your brand well. This is a free site on which you can place a banner (known on Facebook as your ‘cover photo’) which can be product focused, brand focused or an image which maybe illustrates your industry. Change your cover photo regularly, perhaps in sync with the promotional image you’re using on your website. Don’t forget though – Facebook has rules (http://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php) and there are stipulations of what you can and can’t use on your cover photo. Call it protecting their advertising revenues…

Your profile picture is an altogether different thing. This thumbnail image is much smaller than the cover photo and ideally should be your brand logo or something which best represents your business – validating to users online that this is the real you.

#5 Do I know everything about you?

On that point of validation, do ensure that the ‘About’ information on your Timeline page is filled out clearly and correctly. Use brand terminology – it will help with search engine optimisation in that search engines around the web will recognize and associate your brand with certain descriptions and terminology.

You can further validate your Facebook presence by adding a Facebook icon to your website homepage and any other presences you have online.

#6 Are you educating me?

There are some great features on ‘Timeline’ which can help users understand more about your brand… Firstly take a look at the ‘Milestones’ feature on the ‘update status’ section. You can post things like the date of your company’s formation, the dates at which certain products or services were lunched as well as fun things like the day you reached landmark orders or landmark Facebook users. It gives customers more of an understanding and association with your brand.

Secondly there is a feature called ‘Pinned Posts’. Using this means that you can keep an important post at the top of your ‘Timeline’ for seven days. This is great for any product promotion that you want to draw added attention to. It means it will remain prominent in the minds of visitors to the page.

#7 How are you finding fans?

It’s not always easy to find fans on Facebook, users are notoriously private with their Facebook usage, plus they know in ‘liking’ your page they are badging themselves and becoming an advocate of your brand – something which will be seen by their friends. You therefore need to make associating with your brand on Facebook as simple as possible for a user – post Facebook links on your website, tantalize users from other sites such as Twitter or your blog with Facebook exclusives such as live chats with your company founder or designers of your products, so that they have to use the site.

You could also look to ‘recruit’ fans from likeminded but NON CONFLICTING brand pages. If for example you are a shop in Manchester, perhaps look at Manchester lifestyle and style pages on Facebook and post information (as your brand) on there, enticing people to come and learn more about you. You need to be careful only to do this on pages where there are other posts from brands, some page managers quite rightly guard their pages from creating too many third party posts. You don’t want to look like you’re spreading Spam around Facebook…

#8 Are you maximizing interaction?

There is a great new feature at the top of ‘Timeline’ pages which is in the top navigation bar and says ‘Voice’. This determines whether you are posting things as your personal Facebook account or as the brand. This feature didn’t use to exist so if you wanted to post information on like minded pages to help recruit users from them you would have to do it as an individual.

This feature also lets you now message fans of your page direct. This is great for dealing with any customer issues or more sensitive discussions (such as complaints) which you don’t want to put into the public forum.

#9 Are you measuring interaction?

On each post you put onto your Timeline page you’ll see a number underneath it showing how many people it has reached and how many people have interacted with it.

Ensure that this is monitored regularly – ideally weekly. It’s a great indicator of the success of your page. If numbers are low and you’re not attracting interactions, it’s time to revisit the strategy. After a couple of months these stats will help show a pattern of how people are engaging with your brand too so at this time it would be good to align KPIs accordingly.

#10: Are you maximizing multimedia?

Facebook is great for allowing additional content so make use of the ‘apps’ sections it offers Timeline managers. There are photos, using which you can add albums of products, events, achievements – anything that illustrates what the company has been up to. Photos is also a great place to get customer feedback, if you’re developing a new product why not give teaser images to your Facebook fans and ask for their input, they’ll feel rewarded and loyal to the brand if they’ve had this level of input. To do this all you need to do is click the ‘Photos’ section at the top of your page, underneath your ‘Cover Photo’.

Similarly you can also post videos direct onto Facebook, a great opportunity to again educate fans about your brand and business. Use this function to maybe introduce key, charismatic people in your business. And don’t worry, using video doesn’t necessarily mean spending money on production, to begin with a simple recording on an iPhone should suffice. Plus the shorter the better! Users aren’t going to sit in front of a screen watching a video on Facebook for ten minutes, however a snappy 60-second update on new products or services, or some footage of an event is more appealing.

Conclusion…

Using a wide mix of the right social media channels helps broaden your organisation’s social footprint, creating more presence for you across the web. Successful brands have a well established social footprint through engaging on a mix of channels as part of a coherent campaign. Facebook can contribute to your social media footprint and with the right language and use of brand and industry keywords can help maintain a presence online which is search engine optimised. Check each of our ‘Getting Started With…’ guides for further details.

About the Author

  • Leanne Forshaw JonesLeanne Forshaw Jones

    Leanne Forshaw Jones is a PR consultant with more than a decade's experience in delivering integrated campaigns which blend traditional and emerging medias. Leanne advises clients including Urban Splash, Manchester Grammar School, Manchester Arndale, Breville, Ballymore Group, Space0 and more on their communication strategies and has delivered seminars to national and regional groups on integrating their digital and offline presence and maximising the opportunities that new media brings.

    Web: http://flavors.me/leannefj#_/

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