A Facebook presence is becoming an increasingly complex part of a marketers strategy to understand an engage with fans and customers alike. Clearly the objective is not to start a page and hope fans will find you. Because as we all know, hope is not a strategy. You need to plan for success. It is important to understand the unique aspects of Facebook’s functionality to deliver the best experience for your fans which should beget more fans. Facebook can help drive brand awareness, loyalty, engagement, and ultimately, benefit to your bottom line.
Having a seat at the table with clients for the last 4 years, below is a 3-step condensed reference guide for using Facebook as a strategic marketing channel:
Step 1 – Develop a Creative Brief: Take the good ole fashioned creative brief, and make it work for you in social media. Here are a few questions you should ask as you develop your strategy:
- Why do you want to be on Facebook? (And the answer isn’t because everyone is doing it!)
- What role will Facebook play for the brand or business? Customer loyalty? Customer service? Product development? Drive awareness of new sales or special offers? A hybrid? Nail this down – it will matter in every aspect going forward.
- What type of business are you? Who are your target customers? Are there new voices you want to engage with to expand or maximize your understanding of their needs?
- How expansive is your current digital strategy? How does social media fit into your marketing mix and budget – and consider the priority of Facebook to determine budgets, timing, manpower, etc
- Who will be handling the administrative aspects and ongoing communication via your Facebook page? Are there multiple internal constituents that will want to sign off on posts? You should also plan for the inevitable real time need to respond to help requests or issues with your product or service. Lastly, check to see if your company has a social media policy. It will likely need to be modified to reflect the real time nature of Facebook and your publishing strategy.
- What is your brand personality and messaging tone? Consider adapting that for a social media environment where character limitations will challenge the traditional messaging architecture.
- What other social media tools should you use; and how will those differ in message, tone and purpose from your Facebook page? i.e. Twitter, LinkedIn, company blog)
- How will you handle spam and response management to make your Facebook page a safe destination? As spam has increased, what words or terms do you want to track and moderate? Facebook provides the basic ability to delete unwanted comments and report or block users who violate Facebook’s Statements of Rights and Responsibilities. Page administrators tend to use these functions while going through whichever moderation process they use, which brings us to the three moderation methods: manual, automatic and one that combines the previous two.
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Step 2 – Create an Engaging, Ongoing Experience
- Speak in your brand or business voice, but respect the Facebook platform for length of post. Also, look to how your fans comment to adjust for tone and approachability. Vary first and third person to relfect the conversational approach that is appropriate for a particular piece of content.
- Plan to vary your posts to include multimedia posts: Vary and keep posts engaging and eye-catching. Consider polls or quizzes to engage your fans in a two-way conversation.
- Utilize the power of the news feed: Vitrue has found the news feed to be 110 times greater reach,
- Optimize and customize Tab content that can be used periodically in conjunction with your news feed. With the news feed moving so rapidly you should include compelling, informative and engaging content or promotions via a coupon that harnesses the ongoing constant presence of a Tab.
- Target your posts: Segment your fans through geo-location and language for relevancy using Open Graph objects.
- Use custom URL to shorten links: Give your links authenticity and protect your analytics from competitors by using a custom or branded shortening tool for long URLs.
Step 3 – Develop a Conversational Calendar:
- Start with a 14 or 30-day advanced planning to layout events, topics and content that might be meaningful to your brand advocates. Planning in advance will maximize the time you have to create meaningful and appropriate content
- Evaluate the number of posts for optimal reception by your fans. We currently recommend staggering messaging for most businesses to 2-3 times a day. This should vary if you are a media outlet publishing real time news content versus a B2B product or service.
- Time of day/day of week matters. Consider the context of your business and when it makes sense to communicate. For example, if you are a restaurant, before lunch and early evening prior to dinner might be optimal times for posting.
- Remember and capitalize on special events, holidays, news or milestones that are specific to your business that might be of interest to your followers, i.e. Labor Day is prime time for sales of consumer home goods
- Lastly, but not least: measure to manage. Track responses to your post by type, day, time as well as plays and shares. This will help you iterate your calendar, post type and posting schedule.
This post is intended to be a high-level summary to get you started and moving in the right direction. Clearly social media is vast and requires ongoing refinement and thinking. Please leave your thoughts or comments below on what has worked well for you in using Facebook as a Strategic Marketing Channel.
Erika Jolly Brookes is Vice President, Marketing at Vitrue. Follow her on twitter @ebrookes or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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