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Facebook: friend or foe? Everything Marketers need to know

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teenagers sitting on a bench

In 2004, Mark Zuckerberg, alongside a close group of friends, set out on a mission from their Harvard dorm room to make the world a more open and connected place. Jumping forward to today, we can conclude that they’ve certainly made great strides towards reaching their goal. Their platform, Facebook, currently clocks in an astonishing 1.86 billion monthly active users (that’s a 17% increase since last year alone!) from across the globe.

Curious as to how Facebook attracts and retains so many users? Facebook brings people together in a convenient hub where users can do it all:

  • Socialize with friends and family via private messages, wall posts, messenger calls or video chats
  • Share stories, thoughts, photos, GIFs, videos, or external links
  • Interact with content via shares, emojicon reactions, or comments
  • Create or join groups with like minded individuals
  • Play games or apps (Farmville anyone?)
  • Request recommendations on things to do, eat, see, go to, etc.
  • Organize or RSVP to social, networking, community or business-run events
  • Follow media outlets, celebrities, influencers, causes, politics, local business, brands, etc.

How does Facebook compare to the rest of the pack?

Our goal is not to build a platform; it’s to be cross all of them.

Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook stands high above the rest, and understandably so. It is a multipurpose platform that, as Mark Zuckerberg would say, crosses all other platforms, at least in terms of functionality. Whereas other platforms tend to revolve around a specific set of functionalities; Instagram for image sharing, LinkedIn for business, and so on, Facebook is more inclusive. It is what you could call your one-stop social media shop. In fact, even features mimicking other platforms, such as a job searching and stories are slowly making their way onto the platform. So it really comes as no surprise that the State of Marketing report found that the app is accessed on average more times a day more than any other of its kind, and has more than twice the engagement of that of major competitors such as Twitter.

Facebook dominates social landscape chart

Facebook for Marketers

Just like all social media channels, Facebook provides brands with an environment through which they can reach, connect with, and grow their audience, build relationships, and communicate business ideology, culture and news in one convenient platform.

The downside, however, to marketing on such a popular platform is just how crowded it has become. Company pages are at the mercy of Facebook’s notorious news feed algorithm that is forcing many brands to have to pay to play.

Facebook’s algorithm is notorious for being unpredictable in the way in which Facebook decides on which content users will see in their news feed. The platform aims to personalize each user’s experience by delivering content that is most relevant to their individual interest.

The algorithm is constantly changing to refine user experience, so there is no clear rule book, but we do know that in order to prioritize posts, Facebook takes a number of factors and metrics into account. For example, time spent reading/watching content is used to determine the type of content that should be visible in a user’s news feed. Recency and interactions also play a role when Facebook considers showing your posts.

For marketers the struggle is real when it comes to keeping up with the algorithm and remaining visible to their target audiences. There are, however, some unwavering guidelines that you should follow to combat Facebook’s algorithm:

Dos:

  • Test different content types: text only, photo, video, live, long or short form
  • Post regularly
  • Create quality content
  • Deliver exactly what the headline states
  • Share posts with your other social media channels

Don’ts:

  • Use clickbait titles that don’t deliver the type of content your users want to see and ultimately make them bounce – This is becoming continually more important as Facebook begins to put initiatives in place to protect users, and help them protect themselves, against fake news
  • Share the same content type over and over again
  • Send users to non-mobile friendly websites (bad user experience, duh!)

To sum it up, If you’d like to be in the running, make sure you are creating content that actually matters to your target audience, post often and use diverse forms of content.

What to post

In order to give you an idea of successful and engaging Facebook posts, we’ve compiled a set of examples from different industries:

Spread the love

On Valentine’s day, Express shared information on a cross-channel campaign where they uploaded playful messages to their Instagram Story for users to screenshot and send to their loved ones. Not only were they spreading the love, but they were also engaging users on multiple platforms.

Express facebook example

Get in the spirit of…

Any and every holiday! Whether it’s an an oddball holiday such as #NationalCheeseLoversDay or #NationalSelfieDay, or a more well known and conventional holiday such as Valentine’s, don’t be afraid to have some fun and spread the festive cheer. The Green Bay Packers has proved that when approached in an exciting manner, holidays can be an ideal opportunity to get your audience to engage with your content and to represent your brand in a unique way.

Start planning in advance, after all you don’t want #MiddleChildDay to just sneak up on you, right?

greenbay packers facebook example

Be original

Buzzfeed are Facebook rockstars. They’ve not only tailored their content to a number of different interests, but also created a variety of Buzzfeed pages for people to follow including: The Try Guys, BuzzFeed World,  and the ever so popular, Tasty. A quick look at any of their pages and you’ll notice they present their content in a variety of formats including GIFs, links to articles, and videos.
buzzfeed facebook example

Showcase

It’s never a good idea to go overboard with product displays, but who says you can’t sprinkle in images and videos of your product here and there? An image with a witty and fun text line is super shareable and can allow you to spread your message across a much larger audience.

torchys facebookexample

Tell a story

Gatorade is a great example of how to tell an inspirational story with Facebook Video. They created a trailer for an animated film, accessible on their main site, that not only captivates the attention of the audience immediately but also drives Facebook followers to their page.

gatorade facebook example

Publishing tools

Marketers can conveniently manage their Facebook content with Publishing tools. This nifty workspace allows marketers to draft, schedule or instantly publish new posts. Furthermore, you can segment your target audience to deliver content to those who share common interests.

facebook publishing tools screenshot

Publishing tools don’t stop there, however. Additional options include:

Video: Here you can manage your video library, including secret and live ones, as well as repurpose videos or share them from other pages on your channel.

Instant articles: Instant articles load immediately rather than redirecting users to an external site. Publishers benefits from this feature as stories load 10x faster than regular articles and have cool features like autoplay and zoomable videos, as well as interactive maps.

Lead Ad Forms: manage the questions asked in a Lead Ad Form such as name, email address, etc. in order to better your acquisition. Lead ads are commonly used to collect user information for newsletter subscriptions or business follow-ups. In order to use the Leads Form area of your Publishers tab you will need to connect your CRM.

Canvas: canvases are additional spaces Facebook gives marketers to tell their story. They are a full-screen experience that can be accessed when users click on a canvas ad. Marketers can combine videos, text, and images to tell a captivating story.

facebook canvas example

Facebook Ads

We mentioned before that Facebook is becoming more of a “pay-to-play” platform, however don’t fret – this channel may be more affordable than you’d think. Kevan Lee, Director of Marketing at Buffer found that Facebook can sometimes be 7x cheaper than the next most affordable social media ads channel – wow! In fact, Buffer conducted an experiment to find out how much they could get for just $5 on Facebook and while actual results may vary by industry and ad format, they received 787 impressions on a boosted post.

Whereas organic reach is on the decline, Facebook has a powerful targeting platform that, when used effectively, can put businesses right in front of their key audience. Targeting options include the ability to chisel down by:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Interest
  • Demographics (Education level, relationship status, etc.)
  • Professional information (Income Bracket, Job title, etc.)
  • Connections (How the audience member is connected to your page, app or events)

The platform is also rather user-friendly and dynamic, making the learning curve a little less steep for beginners. However, it is important that marketers understand the types of Ads available to them in order to optimize their social game and use the correct ad or combo to deliver their message and reach their strategic business objectives.

Luckily, Facebook understand the need to meet your goals so to help you choose your ad type, Facebook makes recommendations after asking you to identify your objective.
facebook ads

Facebook’s user-friendly platform breaks down ad creation into doable steps:

Step 1: Select your objective

Step 2: Define your audience with Facebook’s targeting tools.

Step 3: Choose where you’d like your advertisement placed (Facebook, Instagram, and/or Audience Network)

Step 4: Set your budget

Step 5: Pick your ad format and design!

Ad Formats

Photo: these visual ads allow you to upload one image to your post or boost a preexisting page post to extend reach and encourage engagement

Video: tell a full and engaging story to your target audience in order to connect and build a relationship

Carousel: Display multiple images that users can slide through. Up to 10 images can be showcased to point users to different areas of your website.

Slideshow: video slideshows can be created from static images

Canvas: maybe the most exciting ad type – this can be any type of ad, but when clicked on it turns into a full-screen experience. Marketers can add additional information in the form of videos, text and images.  

Measuring Success

There is no better way to measure success than to map out your strategic company objectives and tie them to KPIs that answer “how are we doing?”. To get started, the following KPIs may be good indicators of success:

Engagement: if your end goal is (and yes it should be!) for your audience to interact with your posts, then make sure you are measuring engagement metrics including: likes, comments & shares

Engagement by content type: we’ve stressed the importance of sharing a variety of content types, so to go full circle, make sure you are measuring results to understand the content your audience engages with the most.

Reach: Is your organic content reaching as many followers as you’d like it to? Measure reach to find out and adjust your posting times and days, as well as content and format, to test different strategies.

Fan growth rate: Is your page attracting fans? Compare the growth rate over time to figure out which periods have attracted fans in order to figure out which behaviors are most alluring.

Facebook Ads:

Find out how far your marketing dollar goes on and how successful your campaigns have been with these Facebook Ads KPIs:

Impressions: total number of times your ad was displayed

Cost per Mille (CPM): Cost per impression (Facebook charges you for every 1000 impressions)

Click Through Rate (CTR): Find out how many people clicked through to you ad from the total number of viewers

Conversions: the total number of times a desired action was completed (download, purchase, subscribe, etc.)
Cost per conversion: the cost of an individual completing your desired conversion

 

Facebook marketers, we’d love to hear from you! What are your best tips and tricks to reaching your target audience and measuring success?

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Holly McKendry

Sweetspot Marketing & Communications Executive, dedicated to event planning, thought leadership, and inbound marketing. Avid Wakeboarder & travel enthusiast. Communication Studies graduate of Texas State University, San Marcos.


Add a comment

Robin Finney

You need to fix the typo in the first paragraph. Your stat says there are 1.86 million monthly active users when it should be Billion…. big difference. 🙂

Published on May 12th 2017, 2:42 pm   

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