Thanks to numerous Facebook changes recently, many businesses are thinking about dropping Facebook entirely. Engagement is in the toilet, and the page just isn't growing.
Before you do, it pays to take a fresh, close look at your Facebook strategy. Often the problem lies there and has absolutely nothing to do with the changes. Not always.... but frequently.
When I have a new client, here is a sneak peek at part of my evaluation processes to identify where the disconnect lies.
1. Who is the end buyer?
When a business doesn't really know who actually makes the purchase decision for their product or service, then they don't know who their audience is. Without understanding that audience, odds are slim the content being posted resonates with them. If the target customer isn't something a client can rattle off the top of their head, then doing a quick analysis of who has purchased their product and why can shed some light. If not, experience comes into play.
If I take a security company, for example, here are the types of questions I might ask. Do you sell commercial or residential solutions? Residential -> Are most of your buyers men or women? Women -> Do you know what triggered their decision to improve security? If you were to set aside the fear tactics so common to the security industry - that would be death to social media - what kinds of things would interest them? Engage them? Build a relationship with them?
Questions that dig into buyers and their purchase decision make the foundation of your social media strategy. They tell you who you are talking to, what concerns they have, and what brought them into your sphere of influence. It gives you a basic foundation to begin understanding your audience and who your prospects might be.
Once you understand the largest segment, you can branch out into looking at smaller segments. Once you have a deeper understanding of who these people are and what motivates them, you can start being creative with how to reach them.
If we stay with the security company, for example, I might create a Facebook presence around a fake "thief" that posts stories of his/her activities. Targeting women? Maybe it's a cat burgler that is actually feline. Furry fun to entertain and trigger laughter while educating. I'd use Fiverr or (preferably) a local illustrator to create some custom images with captions, if budget allowed. Or perhaps we would create a sexy fake Sean Connery styled James Bond who does residential burglary and corporate espionage. (These ideas are my intellectual property, by the way. Don't steal it unless you hire me and have my permission.) Have fun with it! Don't be scary, be interesting.
Targeting men and corporate situations? That's harder. Coming up with something brilliant might take wine... multiple glasses. LOL But if buyers are IT guys, for example, that would require a completely different post approach then male homeowners keeping their toys and family safe. It would probably be educational content that helped them do their job more effectively, while looking like a rock star to their employer, then sharing my expertise on other Facebook pages where my target audience is likely to be.
You can't be successful on Facebook without understanding your customers and prospects.
Once you understand who they are, you can put on your thinking cap to focus on what might interest and motivate them. It's important to keep the niche narrow - don't try to sell everything to everyone. Then forget about marketing. START CONVERSATIONS. Tell stories. Fit your activity to them.
2. Realize they just don't care.
Other than customers, who make up the bulk of fans for most Facebook pages, understand that people don't care about your brand, product or service. They care about their own needs and interests. Most people follow very few brand pages, so giving them a compelling reason to stick around is critical.
What can you give them that they can't find anywhere else? Education? Entertainment? Emotional reactions?
Get over any ego and assumptions that keep you assuming they are interested. Move past that. Your customers might care, because you've already proven your value - which is why Facebook is a wonderful customer retention and customer service platform - but prospects? They. Just. Don't. Care.
How are you making them care?
3. Do an audit of your Facebook page.
Now that you understand the buyer and target audience, look at the existing Facebook page. Would it appeal to them? Why or why not? Are you giving them reason to engage? Are you promoting too much and acting in YOUR interests, instead of theirs? That's common. Entrepreneurs and marketing professionals that think of social media as a marketing tool lose sight of what matters. It's not about you, it's about them. Being a community. Giving value.
Take an honest look at your page from an outsiders perspective. Even ask your customers/prospects what they like and don't like about it.
4. Define your marketing objectives and customer acquisition goals - then MAP THEM to your Facebook strategy.
This is essential. Understanding your audience is important because it helps you build community and engagement. But what good is that if it doesn't lead to revenue, website traffic or other marketing objectives? Be clear what you are trying to accomplish. Common objectives include leads, traffic, reach and sales.
Back to the alarm company. Say we decided the primary target audience is women homeowners purchasing residential alarm solutions. If the marketing objective is website traffic, how can your posting trigger click-throughs? If your marketing objective is building your email database, how are you giving them incentive to subscribe?
I follow the 80/20 rule - eighty percent of social media activity is entertaining, conversational and/or educational, and twenty percent is marketing about the company/product/service. All of it works to build the brand, but in different ways and always being careful not to over-promote.
After all, this is social media, not advertising.
5. Define your brand attributes - then make sure your posts fit them. Brand attributes aren't the graphic standards you use - they are the attributes you want your company, product or service to be known for.
What do you want to build your reputation around? Is it complicated installs other companies struggle with? Knowledge of iPad integration? Complex computer security? Inspiring women to put safety first?
Posts should connect with these attributes, along with your marketing objective. It's part of what makes you different. Unique. Worthy of interest and connection.
Identify your top 3-4 brand attributes, then connect them to your activity. Showcase these brand attributes in everything you do: your cover image, your tabs, every post you make. Make it smack-upside-the-head obvious, so page visitors and fans don't have to guess.
You can also include product or service attributes. These are your key differentiators on a product or service level, instead of a company level. Are you different due to an uber simple control panels when everyone else offers a hot mess of complicated computers? Or your panel is a crazy simple smartphone app? Or your installation service is faster, cleaner, better? Then your Facebook posts would speak to those specific attributes, and create conversation about it. Know what makes you difference and build on it so your audience has something to connect to.
I just wrapped up work for the nation's largest senior fitness brand. So what did I recommend as a strategy idea? A Maxine-style "fitness fairy" that poked fun at diet, exercise and making fitness easy with a sassy, spunky, sarcastic voice.
I noticed that a specific share EXPLODED engagement one day, related to a magic wand and fitness, and built an idea around it to make the product more fun and interesting. The brand attribute was helping seniors be more social, so that was wrapped in as a major focus of her personality and activity.
As you start integrating your attributes, some will interest your audience more than others. So don't forget to try new ideas for your page! Test out a variety of ideas, see what creates the results you are looking for, then expand on it. Make sure it fits your audience, objectives and attributes, but constantly test new ideas and monitor the result.
If you look at your Facebook Insights, it gives a wealth of information on what does/doesn't work with your community. If you aren't already, try it out.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
This is just a quick, down and dirty overview of my basic process, but I urge you to give it a try before you delete your Facebook page. Map it out into a spreadsheet or Word document that you can refer to often. It isn't the total answer - reach is still dropping like Jimmy Hoffa in cement shoes - but it can identify a major gap that is killing your success.
Facebook can still be a highly useful organic tool despite the changes. The key is creating content that is liked, shared and commented on. This can help make that happen.
And if you are an agency, it is something you should do for every new client you bring on board. It makes a very real difference.