Facebook can be a great way to generate sales and leads for your business. It’s a completely different beast than many traditional marketing channels though. People are on Facebook as a leisurely activity usually. They aren’t necessarily in a buying or business mood, so you have to be careful how aggressive you are about pedaling your wares. It’s kind of like when you’re on a vacation and someone offers to pitch you on a timeshare. Understanding timing and expectations [of users] on Facebook will go a long way in determining your selling success there.
I Like You a Lot
You need to build a fan base on Facebook so you can extend your marketing reach. In other words, you want to get as many interested people to receiving your Facebook posts as possible. Interested people is important. There are many ways to beef up your fanbase fast – such as buying them. While that may make your fan numbers look bigger, it can also be detrimental.
The problem is that you want to use Facebook to increase your reach, but you can actually reduce your chances to be seen if the fans you’ve acquired aren’t really interested in what you have to say. Just because you’re connected with someone doesn’t mean that they will see what you post – that’s all determined by previous engagement.
Facebook tabulates how often you engage with posts from someone to determine where their stuff is seen in your feed. For example, if Jerry is friends with Elaine and George that doesn’t mean he’ll always be shown their posts. Say Jerry frequently clicks and comments on Elaine’s posts, but never George’s. That tells Facebook that Jerry isn’t that interested in George’s posts, so they should be bumped to the bottom of his feed, or not shown. Jerry’s just not that into George.
The same can be said for a Facebook page. If the percentage of people that engage (like, comment, click, share) is small, then Facebook will stop showing it to people. The data is telling Facebook that people aren’t interested in what you say.
Contests can be great ways to encourage engagement and acquire new fans. If you use it to attract new fans, try to make sure that they’re interested in your content by offering a prize that is tied to your offerings:
- store credit
- gift certificate
- free product/service (that you sell)
- invitation to a special event
- There are plenty of Facebook apps that make it easy to run contests. They cost money, fortunately, most are very affordable since they have small businesses in mind.
Use Facebook contests to:
- increase likes
- get people to take polls (market research)
- generating engagement (shares, likes, comments)
- sourcing marketing assets (pictures, videos)
Ideas for Contests:
Sweepstakes – a contest where the winner is determined via a random drawing. Usually Facebook users enter by liking your page (if they aren’t a fan already) and then filling out a form with their contact info. Many times sweepstakes often offer bonus entries if they share the contest with their friends and they enter (which really increases the participants and engagement). Reiterating what we mentioned before, for your prizes make sure that it’s something tied to your product/service. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something you offer (although that’s probably best), but it should at least be related. For instance, if you sell sporting goods, you may offer a new iPad (which is sure to lure people in), but it would be wiser to give tickets to a sporting event as a prize instead. The chances of a new Facebook fan being interested in your brand is much higher when you give away the tickets since you know that this person probably likes sports (and might play them as well).
Video or Picture Submission Contest – a contest where people submit videos or pictures meeting the criteria you ask. Winners can be selected by you, or they can be voted on by others. The nice part about you selecting the winner is that you know that the one chosen will be the one you like the best. On the other hand, when Facebook users vote, the contest can get a lot more traffic as submitters encourage their friends to visit the page and vote for them. The winner selection method can largely depend on what your primary goal is for the contest. If you’re mainly trying to increase engagement or your fanbase, it may make sense to entice entrants to bring more traffic (and vote for them) by allowing the users to select the winner. However, if your objective is to source assets that you can use in future marketing campaigns, you may want to select the winner. If you do have Facebook users select, you may want to incorporate some clause in it that stipulates that you can overrule the users in certain circumstances. For example, you may not want to have a winner that includes inappropriate images/language in their material or openly disparages a competitor (which could lead you into court).
Polls – create polls as a fun way to engage people or as a way to conduct market research. Few and far between are the people that like to take polls or surveys, but when you offer an incentive, like a prize, peoples’ attitudes start to change. Use it to conduct serious market research to determine things you can do to increase sales – something that is often costly to do because of the difficulty of locating participants. Another option is just to have a fun survey that increases engagement and reminds people of your offerings. If you’re an bakery, right around Thanksgiving, you might ask people what their favorite pie is and have them vote on various types that you sell.
Fangate (content/coupon) – While not a contest, fangates can often be run with the same software and helps accomplish a similar goal. Fangates protect pages from being seen unless someone is a fan. Essentially, it’s a way to protect a lead incentive. However, instead of submitting a form, the person must become a fan of your Facebook page to receive the lead incentive. After the person clicks the button to become a fan, they get access to a page where they can download or view content you promise them.
If you’ve used Facebook, you’ve no doubt seen the ads that line the right side (Sponsored posts) of each web page, and occasionally intermingled in your feed as a Suggested Post. While ads often lead you to other websites, Facebook’s sponsored posts are different. Some of the ads lead you to other sites, by many of them are meant to increase your engagement on Facebook. For example, if you look at this Facebook page, the ads on the right side are leading you to external websites. However, the Suggested Post by Optimizely is trying to get you to like their page.
Whether you direct people to your website or keep them on Facebook depends on your objective.
I’m Looking for an Immediate Sale
Keep Them in Facebook
While Facebook won’t say it, most digital marketers say that the cost per click (CPC) is cheaper if you keep people on the site. Think of it this way – if someone clicks on the like button in an ad, or if they click on your title (which leads to your Facebook page), the social networking company can still make more money by showing more ads. However, if the user leaves Facebook, the person may not return immediately which means lost ad money.
People are more likely to thumb through your content if it’s on Facebook than if they are taken somewhere else many times. The difference is people’s expectations. If you’re on Facebook, you aren’t actively seeking something, but may click on an ad just out of sheer curiosity. When you’re taken off the site it disrupts what you were doing (reading through posts or using a Facebook app). Compare that to when someone sees an ad when they’re doing web searches. When a person is doing a search on Google, they’re actively seeking something, and they expect to be taken to another site (and their flow and expectations remain intact).
If you’re looking for an immediate sale, you should look to create landing pages within Facebook on custom tabs using third party apps. Direct people to these custom tabs with Sponsored posts (instead of to your main Page) for a higher conversion rate. If you send them to your main Page, there’s too much content to focus on and too many things for them to do (aside purchasing from you).
Send Them to Your Site
Keeping them on Facebook can limit your options for what you show people. While there are many apps that allow you to create a store within your Facebook page, you’re still limited in what you can do – you’ll never be able to control the whole user experience because you’re still operating within the confines of the social network. In these cases, make sure that you follow the first rule of paid internet ads and keep the message that’s shown in the Sponsored post consistent on the page [they’re taken to].
Build a Relationship
While all business owners would like the immediate sale, many times it’s not that easy – especially if a person isn’t actively looking for you. If Joe stumbles upon your ad for tacos while he’s reading his Facebook posts to see what his friends are up to, he may be willing to like you, but unless he’s hungry and it’s convenient he probably won’t result in an immediate sale. He’s just not in the mindset to buy from you – yet.
Facebook is a lot about the soft sell. If you’re willing to share tidbits about things that may interest your consumer base and approach them as a friend, they’re likely to accept the occasional plug for your product/service. However, if you go for the hard sell and ram promotions down their throats, you’ll likely to turn people off.
If you’re unsuccessful with driving people towards immediate purchases on Facebook, or your product/service isn’t conducive, you should think about building a relationship with your Facebook users. Assuming that you already tried to build your Facebook fans through other means, you should look at running ads.
While it might take awhile to pay off since there’s no immediate sale, paid ads to build your fanbase can be profitable. Your goal would be to build a relationship with your fans by offering them content that interests and entertains them, so that they come to think of you whenever they think of your product/service. To build on our previous example, you want Joe to think of you every time he thinks of tacos, so in the future when he does have the need, you’re the one he buys from.
Create and Manage Facebook Ads
Facebook ads are fairly easy to set-up and can be done here.
Once you create your ad campaign and it’s approved, you’ll want to watch it so you can make adjustments. Depending on how your ads are performing, you may want to make changes. If you’re not getting enough clicks, considering raising your daily budget in the campaign settings (if you’re hitting your daily limit) or an ads bid per click (you may not be getting shown enough if your bid is too low)
As a general rule of thumb, test lowering your bid per click, as your click-through rate rises. The reason is because Facebook is likely to still show your ad if you bid a little less than others since visitors are clicking on your ads. Facebook shows the ads to make money and even if someone bids a high amount for a click, it doesn’t matter if visitors aren’t clicking their ads. No clicks = no money for Facebook.
Aside from how many likes you’re getting, and the cost of acquiring them, you want to keep your eyes on engagement. Even if you’re getting new fans at a low cost, it doesn’t help you if they don’t engage. The whole point is to attract people who are highly interested in your business. If they’re a fan, but they never see your posts because they never engage, it doesn’t increase your marketing reach.
Over time stop the ads that don’t work. This will happen eventually to all ads – people get ad fatigue. They just don’t respond to an ad after some time – they get sick of seeing it, they already clicked on it, the offer doesn’t appeal to them any more, etc. If you see over time, that your cost per like (“Result” cost) is raising, it’s a sign that your ad needs to be replaced.