Recently, my cousin traveled to visit me for an extended visit. As she and I walked downtown her first night here, she caught sight of a store at the end of the block. “Oh hey, I’ve seen them before,”she said.“They’re on Facebook. I didn’t know this was where their store is!”
She was commenting on one of my favorite local shops, a new gift store that opened up less than a year ago. Despite being a new store, this place already has a Facebook following that spans many states. They’re a tiny, niche store you can barely turn around in, yet they have name recognition all over the Midwest. This is almost solely due to their Facebook brand.
Businesses can no longer ignore the benefit of being on Facebook, but many have taken the plunge while seeing only frustrating results, or lack thereof. The truth is, how you conduct your online presence is just as important as having a presence.
Part of my day job in marketing and communications includes operating business brands on social media. These are the biggest benefits I’ve come to note:
- Timing of posts is everything. Morning is always better for high traffic. I schedule my posts to run at about 7:30 a.m. — certain days are better. Saturday, Sunday and Monday are pretty slow so I never post important stuff on those days. But everyone’s following is different; Experiment to find what works best for your business. Did you know you can schedule posts in advance? On your status section, click on the down arrow next to the ‘publish’ button and an option to ‘schedule’ should appear. It will revolutionize your Facebook organizing!
- Images or clickable posts get more traffic. No one wants to simply read sentences of boring text – this isn’t Twitter. Even if it’s just your business logo, put an image with whatever message you’re posting.
- The 80/20 rule: post 80 percent fun, social interaction, 20 percent advertising. I know some people who do 70/30. You don’t actually have to measure. The point is that your content should be exponentially more than just an ad for your business. Why? Social media – key word, social – is about building friendships. When people are bombarded by ads, they stop looking at your page.
- ‘Boosting’ posts, or Facebook advertising, is an often under-appreciated feature. Most businesses go to Facebook because it is a free resource, but paying for a few of their ‘extras’ is worth it. When you pay to boost a post, you are allowed to control how far it reaches and how much you pay. You could literally pay just $5 and have your post seen by people only in a 10 mile radius of your business, for one time only, if that’s what you want. The amount of control you have is actually quite incredible. Plus, boosting your post doesn’t just promote a specific deal or event that you wish to advertise. It also puts your profile in front of new eyes and will almost always generate new followers to your page.
- Contests! People’s favorite part of Facebook is the chance to win free stuff! Giving away prizes is an important part of Facebook marketing. That local business my cousin recognized, they are known for their contests. It’s the only reason anyone has ever heard of them. However, Facebook does have rules about contests. You can’t simply promise free stuff if people share your post on their timeline – that’s obviously a workaround to get free advertising. Plus, depending on people’s privacy settings, you won’t know everyone who shares your post; some will be hidden from you. So you have to require people to enter your contest by playing on your page instead – through ‘likes’ or ‘comments.’ Now, you can make sharing a post an addition to the contest qualifications – ‘like + share to enter our drawing for item X’ or ‘comment + share to enter’, for example. You just can’t base the contest on shares alone. There certainly are businesses that do share-only contests, I’ve seen quite a few, but they are risking the chance of getting caught. Facebook has the right to shut down your page if you do anything that abridges their rules.
However you run your social media pages, be sure to enjoy Facebook – it’s a fun way to market and the more creative you can get, the more success you will have with it.
Emily Enger is a millennial farm kid turned farm journalist. She also works in marketing, serving as Communications Director for a nonprofit that covers nine rural counties in northern Minnesota. These opinions are her own and should not take the place of legal or professional advice. To comment or pitch future topics, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For reprint permission, email editor Joan Kark-Wren at email@example.com.