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Sunday, December 18, 2011

How To Optimize Facebook For Business (A Guide)

It's that time of the year when companies finalize their marketing plans for the upcoming year. And right now, I believe Social Media is a major component to most, if not all, companies. The digital crusade has now finally reached corporate level. You'll hear words like: fanpages, tweets, dig it, stumbleupon, +1 - words that have no previous meanings but now is a part of society's daily language. 

Of course most companies who are in the B2C (Business to Consumers) business, the execution of social media marketing is patterned after the traditional way of communicating to consumers. With a little twist of course since the platform is different. But the point of the matter is, same principles are used. You have a message, you have your medium, and you try your best to schedule it on a time where people are there to see it. It's like buying ad space on TV or radio. 

But how about the B2B (Business to Business) corporations? Do you think it's wise for  a B2B company spend a fraction of their marketing budget in social media? If yes, what's the purpose? How do we measure success? What are the tools we can use? What are the RULES? Are the same rules for B2C applies to B2B? 

There's a lot to consider before running a social media campaign. A common mistake online marketers make is that they assume one tactical program can work across social sites. And assuming a program can be sustained for a long period of time in one site is a big No-No. What I'm trying to say is that the life cycle of a digital marketing campaign should be customized according to the platform that is being targeted as well as the mechanics of the marketing campaign. As per my experience, 3 months is a good time frame to re-evaluate the marketing program. 

Now going back to the original topic (which this post is really about), how can an [online-digital-internet] marketer optimize a social site for an online marketing campaign? We're going to be specific here, we're going to discuss Facebook since it is the most visited social site as of this year. 

I'll be using my company as an example (so that it's realistic). Exactly two years ago, when Facebook was just starting it's company pages, me and my team launched the official Fan Page of our company We didn't know back then what to do, all we know is that we need to populate the wall and hopefully someone will see us and become a fan. Back then, our only measure for success was Total Number of Fans. I remember how hard it was for us before to look for fans because our site or company is highly niched - we cater to people who are into alternative health. 

One of the major obstacles we've had before is looking for ways to expand our reach. Basic marketing principle - the higher the reach, the higher the exposure, the higher the chances of acquiring new leads or in this case - fans. We've tried virtually almost everything, from participating in forums, semi-spamming (yes i'm calling it semi-spam) other relevant fan pages just to let the fans of those pages know that there's a fan page like ours, and we even initiated a contest (which we hoped would be viral but totally failed at it). But to no avail, we still have a slow growth of our fans. 

So what was the turning point? After three months of experimenting, Facebook released the very first official like box (Back then we call it "Become a Fan" button =)). So what we did was we integrate the fan boxes in our website and the most significant thing we did (listen all you site owners!) was when we utilize our main communication medium to our subscribers - our company sales newsletter. Back then we were sending three times a week to a total 2M subscribers. What we did was we just integrated the Facebook logo on the lower part and a one liner saying "Connect with Dr. Mercola on Facebook". 

Guess what the result was? It immediately sent massive traffic to our facebook fanpage that we saw a 1000% increase in our fan base. Now if you are into strategic marketing - one would ask the question "why would you want to get fans from your own subscribers?" They are already subscribers so there's really no point in getting them for Facebook. The end action would be the same. My answer to that is really simple - Facebook is meant for people to share stuff and recommend stuff. It's power to exponentially share the information is so awesome that we figured, if we can have our loyal subscribers share our information in facebook, then maybe we could tap their own networks and acquire their friends as fans and hopefully convert them as subscribers or buyers from our site. And since our loyal fans recommends or shares our own articles and products in facebook, it looks more credible to their own network therefore increasing the chances of acquiring these people. Makes sense right?

So what's the lesson of the story? Simple - if you are a company who already has a main communication tool and a list of subscribers, try to take advantage of that since they are the people who already knows your product and can help you spread the word of your business. 

Now fast forward to a situation were you already have a sizable number of fans. What's next? Here's a few suggestions that you might want to STOP doing and why: 

1. Text-only status updates - if a fan checks his/her newsfeed, if everything is in text format (which most of his/her friends would post) then how do you think you'll be able to cut through the clutter and stand out? 
2. Inconsistent Posts - no one wants inconsistency. This includes the time of posting and the date of posting. TIP: With analytics tool, find out when is the most appropriate time for posting.
3. Repetitive Topics - No one wants the same information over and over and over again!
4. Back-to-back Frequency - GOLDEN RULE: Maximum 3 post a day with a significant interval per post. 
5. Ignoring Referral Traffic - If you don't know where your traffic is coming from then how would you optimize your posts?

Alright, now we're done with the DON'Ts…let's proceed with the DO's:

1. Know where your Fans are coming from - there are tools that you can use to measure this.
2. Create a landing tab - ask a designer to make one for you. This will make your page more interactive. 
3. Always include media in posts - remember the "text-only status updates" above. This is how you counter that. 
4. Post on weekends - visibility is key! So you might be loosing fans who only checks facebook every weekend! 
5. Know what triggers engagement - check which posts generates the most likes and comments. This will help you determine what type of posts you should be positing. 

BONUS DO: CUTE Helps… :) (post a photo of a cute puppy dog or something similar every now and then. This will help increase your engagement rate).

BONUS DON'T: Auto-posting tools. Facebook DISLIKE auto-posting tools. As per experienced, when we used a tool to automatically post our content, it was 61% less visible than manual posts. The impressions (number of times it was seen by fans) is also significantly lower than manual postings.

How about Page Views? Do we measure that? Well, it's a nice to have but I would rather have you measure your STREAM Views. What's the difference?

1. Page Views - this is the number of times your page is seen or visited. 
2. Stream views - the number of time your individual posts were seen by fans in their newsfeeds. 

As per our observation, the average page only reaches 7.5% of its Fans. In short, fans no longer go back to check the page. They just wait for the recent update to pop on their newsfeed so that they could interact!

Now lastly, here's a tip for people who wish to pursue social media marketing - The RICHER the Media, The Deeper the Engagement. So post more Videos and Photos instead of text updates as well as link posts. 

I might be doing a post about how to increase engagement but still thinking when to do it (i'm a bit swamped with work). But rest assured I'll be able to write that sooner or later!

Lastly, all of this is for academic purposes. So (if ever my boss gets to read this), I am not sharing CONFIDENTIAL information. =P 

So that's about it. I'm hungry. Time to eat. 

Till next time!

Engr. Nicco Joselito Lopez-Tan

P.S. Don't forget to write your comments or questions below! :)

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post and thanks for sharing. Some things in here I have not thought about before.
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