Facebook gets a bad rap from small business owners.
The metrics change so often that, even writing this, I know the tutorial aspects of this post may not be relevant next year. Long term users of Facebook's business pages are quick to grumble about the old days when every fan saw every post you made without pay-for-exposure...or even the early advert days when $5 would buy you more reach than you could ever need.
Although Facebook has changed drastically in the last decade, the current version isn’t impossible to conquer. The platform has a bright side: with over 1 billion active users every month, Facebook is still the best platform to reach most markets.
Facebook as a Foundation to Your SMM
Each social media platform has its unique strengths when to comes to connecting you with your market. Facebook is a great jack-of-all trades for connecting to all markets, however, it is a powerhouse for entrepreneurs and business owners looking to:
reach a geographically localized market
reach an economically affluent market between the ages of 25-55
Reach a primarily female market
I recommend businesses choose 2-3 social media platforms that best reach their market, concentrate their focus on those platforms, and ignore the rest. Even with the popularity of other platforms rising, Facebook’s influence is still too big to ignore. I have never created or consulted on a social media strategy that did not use Facebook as a cornerstone platform.
Remember that, as a entrepreneur, you’re using this platform as part of a social media marketing strategy- not a sales strategy. Solid marketing and sales are crib mates but they are not the same.
Marketing is about communicating your business and brand to your audience, building relationships, and creating revenue through these relationships. The stronger your brand is, the more focus you have on your best market, and the more success you'll have on any social media platform.
A word of caution: Knowing how to use analytics and Facebook Adverts won’t help you at all if you aren’t producing consistent, good content that reaches out and connects to your market. These tools deliver the message, but whether they work or not largely depend on the quality and focus of your content.
Facebook Insights: The Data Doesn't Lie
Facebook has a decent data section for business pages under the “Insights” tab. If you’re not a “numbers” person- don’t let that deter you. The tab is packed with information. But, if you're looking to create a SMM (social media marketing) strategy for your business, there are only three things you need to look at right now.
The first is under the “Posts” section on the left hand tab under insights.
1. Know WHEN to talk to people
You might not know what your fans like, but you can know when they are available.
This screenshot from Maeva's Coffee's Facebook insights shows that our 4.7k followers are most online from noon-2pm and from 7pm-9pm CST. As far as days, our traffic is steady through the week with a slight uptick in activity Sunday-Wednesday.
How is this helpful?
We could dive into the in the metrics, algorithms, and black magic of how Facebook determines if your post is shown to a fan. However, this is the most basic explanation of how knowing when to post helps your business:
1. The more (often/recently) a fan interacts with your page, the more likely your update/post will appear organically in their feed
2. By posting when they are most likely to be browsing, they are more likely to see it/interact with it
3. The faster/greater number of people who interact with new material on Facebook, the more likely it is to "go viral" on Facebook. Facebook will begin to show your post to people that only occasionally interact with your page...and then spread to fans who never interact with your page...and finally people that might want to be fans of your page.
So, posting great, responsive content when people are online is the first step in not having to pay for exposure on this platform.
2. Know WHAT people want to see
I'm embarrassed to admit this but when it comes to managing my business' SMM...I'm the laziest business Facebook-er in the world. A quick glance at this recently published post list (also under the "Posts" tab of Facebook Insights) will show these weaknesses: my posts are infrequent, haphazardly strategized, and predictably result in around 20%+/- reach.
Instagram is my preferred SMM platform for Mavea's Coffee. But, back to Facebook.
This view shows which of your previous posts have caused the best response from your fans.
Don't hit that "Boost Post" button! Before we move on to paying for anything- take a look at these two posts. We're going to come back to them when I show you how to make Facebook Boost/Adverts actually work to reach your market.
3. Know HOW you stack up
One final piece of Facebook insights you should be using: The Pages to Watch. It's located on the "Overview" tab, all of the way down at the bottom of the page.
Here's what we have set up for Maeva's Coffee:
Facebook allows you to "Watch" other pages to see how your page is preforming comparatively.
It's good to know what's normal!
If you can't think of any direct competitors (Maeva's Coffee doesn't have direct local competition), this is still an incredibly useful section. We've added both Old Bakery Beer and Shiver's Custard. Neither of these businesses are coffee shops, but we share a lot of the same customers. Plus, both of these awesome local businesses have very responsive Facebook SMM going on in our local market. Use this section to motivate yourself. Add businesses you want to model your SMM after- don't just creep.
We also have Rise Coffee on our "Watch" section because they have what I consider to be the most responsive SMM for any single location, non-franchise coffee house in the STL area.
Under "Pages to Watch", add direct competitors, but also businesses that:
have similar a similar market
serve your same location
do this Facebook thing better than you do
are the exact same thing as you are- or want to be- but in a different location
If you're looking for a secondary analytical tool for Facebook, my favorite free service is Komfu. Check out this is a screenshot from the Maeva's Coffee Facebook analysis:
This first box, "Fan Penetration" is roughly the same as "Reach" on Insights. Our reach down 9.56% because we haven't posted much recently. However, our overall penetration is 23.26%. Average penetration is 16%. You're off to a good start if your numbers are higher.
The second highlighted box is "CTR" or Click Through Rate. Of the people who saw your post while scrolling through your feed, this is the percentage that interacted in some way (this includes "likes", comments, click through to page, etc). Anything over 10% is rated "very engaging".
The third highlighted box we're going to use in this upcoming section....
Are Facebook Adverts and Boosts Worth a Damn?
Again, nothing will work if you aren't creating the right content. Most people who say that "paying for Facebook doesn't work" have whittled away their budget with with content created around the wrong outcome.
Social Media Marketing is not the same as traditional advertising. Traditional advertising seeks to covert on short term occurrences and one-off placement. Good SMM seeks connection that builds life-time customers. "Likes" do not equal sales and SMM strategies that use this as a measure will not succeed.
Social media is a tool for your business to create relationships with admirers, find the dedicated people who will ultimately be the core of your business, and create organic market growth.
To that end, paying for Facebook reach can be worth it if it's done correctly.
Under the "Published Posts" in Facebook Insights, you will see that Maeva's Coffee has boosted posts and ran adverts three times in the last six weeks. Why so few? I don't boost posts often because they are marked as "sponsored" in the feed...and that feels inauthentic to me. Secondly, Maeva's brick-and-mortar traffic is nearing full capacity without any additional advertising (!).
What $10 in Post-Boosting Gets you on Facebook
Let's take a look at Boost.
Presumably, boosting a post will allow you to reach a larger audience more quickly, with the end goal of launching it into that "viral" level of engagement on Facebook's platform.
Here is the post I boosted two weeks ago- as it appears to on our page.
This post is GREAT content- according to the data we have accrued over the last couple of years on our fan base. It is:
- A rare occurrence. We don't do new flavored lattes every week at Maeva's. This was a spontaneous act, inspired by a customer, that was relevant to a widely-celebrated current holiday (Mardi Gras).
- A real product shot. We've been on Facebook long enough to know that the people of Maeva's like two things most: Tasty drinks and our resident shop cat, Buford. Posts focusing on either of these things are going to perform in the top 20% when they don't occur more often than once per week.
- An Environmental shot. Our data has shown that our base prefers photos taken in shop over photos taken anywhere else.
- Posted at the RIGHT time. 11:38am on a weekday is prime-time for people who have mentally checked-out at work and are browsing Facebook while they're waiting for lunch break.
Also note- this isn't professional photography! This photo was taken with an iPhone 6s near nice, natural light and uploaded direct to Instagram. Great content doesn't have to be professional but it must be authentic.
This post has all of the right characteristics to make it responsive content without paying to boost.
However, we spent $10 to boost this post and here's the result:
This post reached 6,210 people (a number that extends beyond our current "like" base), received 230+ likes, and had 15+ comments. According to our Komfu, it was ranked both "viral" and having a high penetration (65%!).
Facebook shows us via the orange bar how much of that reach was organic (not a result of our paid boost) and inorganic (a direct result of our paid boost). The reach was 50/50. This post would have worked about half as well had we not boosted it.
Was the boost ultimately worth $10? Yes.
What Facebook doesn't show you was that Thursday afternoon's after work rush vs. previous weeks. Over a dozen frozen Bananas Foster lattes walk out the door in the hours following this boosted post- with many more people coming in for their regular order because they had seen the post and started thinking about the reward of an afternoon coffee stop.
In short, if you have something really awesome that you're proud of or excited for- your fans are going to love it, too. In those cases, use some of your anticipated revenue to get that cool thing in the hands of the people who are going to want it.
Before we move on to Adverts, take a look at this other boosted post from February.
The $5 we spent on this post didn't go so far. Most of reach was organic- meaning that we would've reached those fans is we hadn't have spent the money. This is because a smaller portion of our market is interested in local politics than those who are interested in treats.
As a entrepreneur, if you begin to collect data on your SMM and respond to what it says, you'll find that data doesn't lie.
You might spend some money on Boosts or Adverts that, in spite of your keenest hunch, don't produce the results you expected. That's okay! Poor performing posts and bad returns tell us just as much about what to post as our best posts do. Fortunately, Facebook boost is a great platform for a budget-minded business to micro test before launching large scale advertising.
Using Facebook Adverts the RIGHT way
If you want an amazing Step-By-Step guide on using Facebook Adverts, check out Neil Patel's blog here.
If you're tried to create a Facebook advert and it hasn't done anything for your business, you're probably missing a couple of key pieces of information.
Here are the two important things you can easily fix to get started the right way:
1. Change your Presets!
Facebook's presets are automatically set to make sure they max out whatever budget you've set. They want your money.
Under "Create Ad", you'll find a range of presets you can change that will focus the goal of your advertisement so you are paying only for what response you choose.
First, make sure you choose the right objective. Most of my Adverts for Maeva's fall under "Engagement"- and then "Page Likes". I don't want to spam people who already follow us but I don't mind spending money to introduce ourselves to new people.
Changing your objective will change the options available to you from the onset of Ad creation. Be clear about what you want to achieve with this ad.
Follow Neil's lead when it comes to selecting and audience, but there's a critical piece under "Budget & Schedule" that you MUST change that Facebook doesn't really want you to find. Look for the title "When You Get Charged" and make sure it's set for your action not per impression.
Don't pay for impressions! Pay only for the action you want.
Changing these presets when creating an Advert will make the most of the dollars you budget for each ad.
2. Me Language vs. Them Language
Moments ago, I was listening to a client tell me, "I want them to know it's high quality. I want them to know it's legacy. I want..."
Why does everyone miss this?
'Me, me, me' doesn't sell! If your advertising story starts with "I want..." "We are..." "We have..."...people will scroll right past it. It's boring. It's needy. No one wants to hear it.
This isn't about you- it's about them.
We are being asked to do things for companies, people, customers, clients, etc. all day, every day. Your Advert is going to be nestled in between their college friend's status asking for help moving furniture this Saturday and their ex's dog's GoFundMe.
How many times have your heard "Like our page?" A ton. How many of those pages have you actually liked?
To find a good strategy, begin by asking: What are you advertising that is going to fix a problem, give your fans a little happiness, or let them escape for just a moment?
If you approach a stranger, which question is most likely going to illicit a positive response?
a) "Can you spare me a dollar?"
b) "Can I help you carry that?"
Make your message them centered through your choice of visuals and copy.
Ask not what your fans can do for you- but what you can do for your fans. (Apologies, JFK)
Take a moment to look through your own business' Facebook data and make a few changes- let me know what you find!
Now that you have a few basics on using Facebook to connect your business to your market, we'll be adding Instagram to the mix. The next piece in this series will focus on my favorite platform for visually-rich businesses...and tactics for hash tagging your way into the hearts of the most social media savvy market on the planet.