With all the ongoing changes happening with Facebook, it's sometimes tough to keep up and sort out what's important and what may or may not impact your everyday efforts to engage with a vibrant community, reach a wider audience and ultimately communicate more efficiently. Below are the four key components to consider in order for brands to succeed on Facebook:
1. ORGANIC EFFORTS
Folks familiar with Facebook's infamous EdgeRank algorithm will know that brands posting on Facebook will only reach, on average, 16% of their fans. Depending on size of page, type of industry and audience and, more importantly, how the page is managed, this percentage can vary anywhere between 7% to 33%, and sometimes as high as 50%. To reach such levels of penetration within your Facebook fan base usually requires dynamic community management, with tactics such as:
- Posting aspirational, humorous or emotional pictures
- Asking questions, not always directly linked to the brand, but coherent with its identity and community interests
- Contests and special offers - after all, number one reason why people "like" a brand is in order to get deals, discounts or access to exclusive offers or events
- Sharing relevant articles, photos and videos
- Asking people to complete a sentence, fill in the blank, insert a caption, etc.
As part of its recent major changes, Facebook announced two features - Story Bump and Last Actor - allowing engaging posts you haven't seen to be bumped up to the top of News Feed later in the day, thus increasing the odds of you seeing it and interacting with its content: like, comment or share.
2. PAID COMPONENTS
The truth, however, is that no matter how dynamic their community management may be, brands now need to plan for investments on Facebook in order to reach more people, get more likes, shares and comments, and to enhance the overall page performance. And while Facebook ads are still part of the equation, there are now a variety of options to consider:
- Classic Facebook Ads, appearing in the right side - desktop only. These can be purchased directly within the Facebook ad platform, or through more sophisticated techniques using retargeting, through Facebook Exchange (FBX).
Boosting a Post on Facebook
- Promoted Posts, also known as "boost" posts. For a given amount, you can ensure that a given post will reach a wider audience, with the range varying according to the set amount you invest in.
- Page Post Ads are similar to promoted posts, in that they serve to highlight a given post. However, its mechanism resembles more of classic media buy, with CPM or CPC targets, and more precise audience demographics and targeting capabilities.
- Sponsored Stories are ads appearing in your Newsfeed, including on mobile devices. This is important since 60% of active users access their account through a mobile device! Brands highlight a given user's activity, so there is less creativity and control, but these ads tend to perform better given their authentic nature, since user's friends are exposed to a "genuine"message from someone in their network.
- Facebook Offers. Facebook used to offer the option to send out online offers to fans, but this ceased on July 3rd, 2013. There is still the possibility to extend in-store offers, using the "offers" feature. Facebook Offers are free to create, but you will need to spend some money to promote them to your selected audience.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to spend money to spark your fan base, and savvy community managers now juggle between some of these initiatives in order to follow up with organic, more natural techniques to keep the interest alive and conversation going.
3. CROSSING PLATFORMS
The biggest mistake brands make, and most organizations in general, is to look at Facebook as its own entity. Facebook is a great platform, but it ought to be inserted in an over-arching online vision and strategy, aligning with email marketing initiatives, i.e. newsletters, automated emails, etc. as well as other social media, such as Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube or TripAdvisor. There also needs to be a content marketing approach, identifying what role for the corporate blog, what role for social media, what role for user-review sites, and so on... within an editorial and tactic calendar.
Brands who achieve optimal results with Facebook are those who cross-promote their various channels, including moving beyond online with offline (in-store) offers, for examples. Such initiatives also help providing tangible results, which in turn tend to contribute to ROI calculations that are often an issue to demonstrate, specially for brands who rely solely on engagement indicators.
Speaking of indicators, Facebook greatly enhanced its Insights module in the administrative panel. Among other improvements, we can now clearly see the distinction between paid and organic reach, with simpler metrics and easier to download, for those wo wish to export or extract data for further analysis. In case you missed them, here are some of the salient improvements:
- Each post now has its own scorecard, which helps to determine which type of post works better for your specific audience.
- The "Virality" indicator has been replaced by "Engagement", in which post clicks are now included.
- There are now six tabs to choose from and where one can dig for lots of useful data about the page performance: Overview, Likes, Reach, Visits, Posts and People.
BONUS: A REVIEW SITE?
A lesser known feature was also unveiled recently that could prove to be a boon or a bombshell with the travel & hospitality vertical: the "Review" button that now appears on Facebook pages.
The new "Review" button on Facebook Pages
Most people don't necessarily rely on Facebook for other users' reviews and comments, with sites such as TripAdvisor or Yelp that have a strong leadership and awareness for this purpose alone. Nevertheless, Facebook positioned itself strategically earlier this year within the search field, launching its Graph Search functionality, so it would only make sense to now add this layer of user reviews. For an upcoming trip to Las Vegas, Chicago, Paris or Rome, users may want to use their Facebook search capabilities, now combined with these reviews that add context, in particular if comments come from folks within our network. Is that really Facebook's intention? Hard to tell at this point, but travel marketers should take note of these developments. One never knows...
Sample of user reviews for Fairmont Chateau Frontenac hotel, in Quebec City
Are there other new features within Facebook you think are true game-changers or should have been mentioned in this post? Let me know in the comment section below.