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Facebook for the Beginner

Facebook is the largest social network in the world and the one most preferred by businesses when planning their social media strategy. The platform is useful for small, local businesses because it reaches the widest range of age groups and is viewed as more personal while a platform like Twitter is better for generating traffic to the business’s main website and for instantaneous headlines.

Due to its sheer size and multi-faceted platform, Facebook includes such abilities as the ability to be liked, to create business apps and post updates and information, videos, photos and among others.

First Thing’s First

But before signing up for any social media platform, you should do some research to determine which platform will best suit your company’s needs and will be the most effective method for how you want to implement your social media marketing plan.  Although Facebook is the largest social media medium, if it doesn’t suit your objectives it may be futile time and effort spent.

Once you’ve made the decision that Facebook is your best choice, you need to plan your strategy.  A strategic plan will give you focus on how to proceed to meet your goals and provide benchmarks for you to compare your goals with your results.

Facebook Stats

Buddy Media conducted research to reveal the most effective ways for retailers to interact with their fans on Facebook.  The data was obtained by analyzing user engagement from the top 100 Facebook retail pages during a 6 month period in 2011.  The findings might surprise a lot of people, but provide some great insight and guidance for those venturing in.

  • Posts made between 8 pm and 7 am receive 20% more user engagement than any other time of the day.
  • The best day to post on Facebook is Wednesday, with Sunday a close second.
  • Posting 1-2 times per day produces 40% higher user engagement.
  • To achieve maximum user engagement, don’t overload their news feed.  Posting 1-4 times per week produces 71% higher user engagement.
  • Posts with 80 characters or less receive 66% higher user engagement.
  • Ask questions to spark dialogue – question posts generate double the comments than that of non-question posts.
  • Fill in the blank posts receive 9 times more comments than other posts.
  • The most engaging keywords for offers were ‘$ off’ (55%) followed by ‘coupon’ (39%).
  • Fans love coupons but prefer the ‘$ off’ to the ‘% off’ type of promotion. Percentages require thinking whereas a set amount of money is straightforward, even if it’s a small amount.
  • Avoid complicated wall posts.  Status-only posts receive 94% higher than average user engagement.

Advice for First Time Facebookers

Once you’ve incorporated the above findings into your Facebook plan, steer clear of the following list of mistakes that most small businesses make when first incorporating Facebook into their online marketing arsenal.

  1. By broadcasting sales pitches instead of engaging users with relevant content.  Social media is about interacting, not just self-promotion.  Users are looking for a reason to connect with you and they’re giving you the opportunity for that by ‘liking’ you.
  2. By not investing ample time to build a Facebook community.  A successful strategy entails dedication and time to be able to give users enough attention and relevant content.  A misconception with social media marketing is that once it’s set up, it can take care of itself.
  3. By providing boring or dry content.  Think about what type of content draws you to brands on Facebook.  If the updates are the same predictable filler, you’ll soon pass over it on your news feed.  Mix it up by providing links to videos, tag a friend in some photos, or tell a corny joke.  Being unpredictable will cause users to seek you out to read the next corny joke about the chicken crossing the road.
  4. Failing to get to know Facebook and its many intricacies.  Because it’s a new medium, it will continue to evolve and add to its arsenal of marketing abilities.  Did you know that Facebook has a built-in analytics system?  It gives you the opportunity to analyze past performance to see which part of your content is getting the most user attention.
  5. Not presenting themselves and the company well online.  Keep your business profile in line with your business principles and your online marketing strategy.  Although this is social media and you want to show personality and depth, you also need to keep it clean and neutral.  Not everyone will necessarily share your political views, but you still want them as customers.

By determining your marketing needs, objectives and having a clear plan of attack, Facebook will provide a great way of creating online brand awareness, creating a sense of community with your customers and showcasing your expertise and knowledge. Be prepared as it will require time, dedication and effort but the ROI has the opportunity to be phenomenal.

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