Last week we talked about optimizing Facebook Page wall posts for action and how to get people to not only like, comment and share them, but also leveraging the posts to drive campaign oriented actions with ActionSprout. This week, I want to extend the discussion and talk about how to take these great wall posts and target them to the right audiences.
Facebook offers a handful of tools to help you get your action message to the right people. But before we get into those, it is important to recognize the real-world constraint that we face when using social media to reach multiple audiences: almost everything you do is done in public. Wall posts, ads, comments, shares and like all take place where the world can see it. So even if you have different messages for different audiences, you have to make sure that your message do not contradict each other.
Gone are the days when a candidate for president can tell people at events around the country that he wants to scrap a submarine project, but when he speaks to people living in the town where they make the submarine, he say he supports it. In the pre-mobile-social age, candidates could get away with this type of pandering. But in the era of the "47%," pandering is no longer a smart option.
As we explore how to target messages on Facebook to niche audiences, always remember that the message variation is based on focus, angle and emphasis, not on pandering contradictory messages. Assume that if you pander, you will get caught.
Targeting messages on Facebook can be accomplished both organically (free) and via promoted posts and ads (not free). Taking extra steps to ensure your messages are delivered to your targeted audiences is essential because, on average, only ten percent of your page fans will see your posts in their newsfeed.
Organic Targeting on Facebook
While Facebook limits the number of your page fans who see your posts in their newsfeeds in order to sell more promoted posts, there are several organic (free) techniques you can use to reach more people.
- Hashtags: After dragging its feet for years, Facebook has finally implemented hashtags. Facebook hashtags link your post to other posts on the same topic. It is best to use real words, unlike how we tweet hashtags, because we have more characters to use. And while many people worry that embedding hashtags into a Facebook post looks weird to core Facebook users, I like adding hashtags like footnotes. I skipp a line after a link to list a few tags.
- Sharing page wall posts: After you post an image on your wall (remember image posts are better than link posts), use the Share button to post it to your own profile wall and to the walls of groups and friends you are targeting.
- Posting on other pages: Unless you are an administrator for a targeted Facebook page, you cannot share a wall post from your own page to another. But you can manually post to other pages. And you can tailor your message to fit the audience of each page where you post it. Too many people think sharing on Facebook is just about posting on their own page. It isn't. Free message targeting requires you to do a little research to find pages that are read by your target audiences and post there. For example, if your message is designed to mobilize activists within the Occupy Movement, post your message on the many Occupy Pages. Just remember, do not post the same text over and over. If you don't change it a bit every few pages, you will get nabbed for posting SPAM.
- Private message: Sending you private messages to key influencers on Facebook is another way to target for free. Once you have identified the key influencers in each of your target audiences, judiciously use private messages to reach out them. Remember, you are intruding into their private space, so avoid coming across like SPAM. Personalize each private message, even if some of it contains common language. Use these messages to not just ask them to share your campaign message, but also to deepen your relationship with them. This will make these influencers more likely to help you now and later. Include a link to a post you have made on your page or elsewhere that your want them to share. That will make it easy for them and ensure your targeting hashtags will be shared, too.
Promoted post targeting
I am a big fan of paying to promote page wall posts, occasionally. If the post is well designed to optimize sharing, mobilize action, produce page likes and/or raise awareness about your issue or candidate, giving it a boost makes sense. Even spending $5 or $10 here and there is worthwhile, as it is like a shot of adrenaline for your post.
Facebook provides a nice selection of targeting options for promoting page wall posts:
Targeting from the wall post: If you click the Boost Post button under a page wall post, you can choose to target your page fans and their friends or you can choose through "targeting." Targeting options here include location, age and interests (start typing keywords to see what comes up). This is quick and easy and allows you to target very effectively.
Targeting from the Facebook advertising manager: If you want to nano-target your wall posts, open the self-serve ads manager. Here, you have additional options to target your wall post. These include marital status, education level, school, workplaces, and much more. If you are making a fundraising appeal, you can target people who share a common interest with your campaign and graduated from an Ivy League school more than 10 years ago. If you are trying to get CNN to fire Lou Dobbs, you can target only people who work at CNN.
The bottom line is that you can target your wall posts through a variety of means. The key is to do your research to identify who your target audiences are and craft the right message for each audience.
Social Advocacy & Politics is a weekly, exclusive column for Social Media Today by Alan Rosenblatt that explores the intersection of politics and social media. Look for the next installment next Tuesday morning.