Facebook has quickly become the dominant social network on the Internet landscape, so you absolutely have to be leveraging Facebook for all you can as a business, website owner, or blogger. Facebook keeps changing, so you have to stay on top of what you can do to maximize your presence on Facebook to generate as much traffic and exposure as possible. Facebook represents the best way for your content to go viral and snare in throngs of people you can communicate with around your brand or site. I don’t think you can ever have enough resources devoted to your social media strategy, but Facebook is definitely where you want to spend the major of your time and money promoting your site or company. Here are some of the top ways to maximize Facebook for your company, website or blog:
1. Social Plug-ins – Facebook has continued to evolve their “social plugins” which allow you to tie Facebook into your site in several ways. I think the most important one right now is the site commenting plug-in that allows people to comment on your site’s content and then shares it to their Facebook Wall. Another great one is the automatic site registration, I see a lot of advanced sites using that. The Like button on all your product details pages or blog posts is a must. This is an incredibly powerful way to help your site or blog go viral. Here is the complete list of current Facebook Social Plug-ins. Social plugins are a must and should be integrated into your website everywhere possible, as long as it’s called for.
2. Fan Page Management – If you are a business, website, or blogger, you absolutely need to run and administrate your Facebook Fan Page. Once you have your Fan Page set-up you are ready to recruit fans by getting it out in front of people. But how should the Fan Page actually be managed and by whom? That’s surprisingly a tough question. You can handle it internally or outsource your Fan Page management, but whoever is assigned to it needs to be the right person with the right strategy. Fan Page management should be done with a very pro-active, friendly, informative, and interactive approach, otherwise you won’t be able to solicit your fans to comment, share or like your content, which is squandering the entire opportunity. For instance, if you post a quote from Albert Einstein, you should ask “what do you all think about this quote?” after the quote to provoke a response. Remember, the more interaction and responses you provoke, the more people will actually see your content on friends’ Walls and potentially interact with it themselves or share it to their Wall. I’m pretty fussy about Fan Page management in general, I don’t think 99% of companies do it very well, which is most likely just that their strategy and technique isn’t as interactive or engaging as it could be, nothing personal. If you are a fan of a lot of companies you probably know what I mean. So make sure you have really friendly, out-going, amazingly interactive and pro-active people managing and posting to your Fan Page. Frequency depends on your overall strategy, but I think in general 5-10 posts a day is a good amount, as long as they are purposeful and relevant posts. Don’t post just to post, but frequent posting is recommended.
3. Facebook Sweepstakes and Contests – one of the best things you can do to pump up your Fan Page and inspire new fans is to run sweepstakes and contests. People love to enter sweepstakes and contests to win things, especially online, and especially if it’s quick and easy to do so. I love a Facebook App provider called Wild Fire, which allows you to run 8 different types of contests and sweepstakes for a nominal fee. They handle all the tracking and reporting which is amazing, and they also give you the data of the people that entered your promotion. Some of the cool features of Wild Fire are that when someone enters they are asked to Like your Fan Page, post it to their Wall, and then they can send a few invited to their friends….all of which helps it go viral! I recommend running monthly contests to our clients and don’t be cheap! The better the prizes, the more uptake it will get and chances to go viral.
4. Encouraging Customers to Fan – Most companies have databases of customers, subscribers, referrals, and other types of databases that have been acquired of the years. Whatever your database sizes, you should absolute send them a nice email piece encouraging them to join your Facebook Fan Page. It definitely helps to offer some kind of incentive to increase their likelihood of become a fan, but in general this should be done periodically to your entire database to build fans. Try to be creative with it. Definitely include join our fan page verbiage in your weekly/monthly newsletters as well. If your website sends out any types of auto-responder emails, you can integrate “Join our Facebook Fan Page” copy or graphical buttons to make the suggestion. Also, incorporating this same type of thing into your Order Confirmation or Thank You pages can be effective at increasing your rate of uptake when acquiring new fans. Leave no stone unturned when incorporating this type of suggestion into the fabric of what you do. Companies like 500Friends, on the pre-transaction side, and CureBit, on the post-transactional side, can turn new customers into instant advocates and promotion spreaders. I definitely encourage merchants to check out these companies (and mention I recommended it!).
5. Facebook Advertising – Facebook advertising represents the greatest opportunity to target your products or company in general to the Facebook audience. They have excellent targeting options that allow you to hone in on your ideal customer and advertise directly to them. For instance, if you are a flower shop in Fort lauderdale, Florida, you can advertise to males, between the ages of 30-50, that live in Fort Lauderdale zip codes. People who you think would buy flowers locally. You can also do this nationally and get more broad with it. You can also include targeting by people’s Likes and Interests on Facebook to further specify the types of people you want to see your ads. Facebook advertising is on a cost-per-click (like Google paid search) or a CPM (cost per thousand ad impressions). It’s debatable which works best, but regardless you should be tracking all the clicks with electronic tracking or sending them to a special page to see a promotion for Facebook visitors. That way, you can tell whether the business came from Facebook ads and gauge your ROI (return on investment of the campaign). Once you know your ROI you will know what you can afford to spend to generate more customers to your website. In order to make this type of advertising work most effectively you have to do things like: offer special promotions, vary/rotate ad copy, vary ad images, and split-test your landing pages. I recommend using a website optimization tool like Optimizely to increase your website’s conversion rate prior to advertising on Facebook and spending the money.
6. Fan Page Advertising – You can also advertise specifically for Fans on Facebook. This is another great way to build your overall fans and should be running every month to some extent, whether it be a little or a lot. You can never have too many good, targeted fans. It’s said that fans spend 4x as much as non-fans, so that’s all the reason in the world to advertise for fans on Facebook. Again, you can really target who will see you ads. I sort of classify this under branding, with sales attached at a later date, because your ROI to acquire new fans can’t really be measured right away. But it’s still a great thing to do in my opinion and every company should budget a certain amount per month towards advertiser for fans. Like anything you are putting money towards, it has to be managed and worked to get the most out of it and how effectively that’s done is up to whomever you have manage it.
7. Sponsored Stories – Sponsored Stories are the latest thing Facebook has rolled out for advertisers. Here is a live Webinar overview of Sponsored Stories and how it works. I just started advertising through it so I don’t know how effective it will be but it look like it has a ton of potential to open up more targeted advertising.
8. Fan Messaging and Marketing – Once you have your fans built up you can start messaging them through your Fan Page Admin area under Marketing. You can send them all an email with a message, promotion, and links to whatever you want. Keep it in moderation though and don’t get nuts with it or you will alienate people. When you decide to run your contest or sweepstakes you can email all your fans and let them know about it, as well as posting a status update with a link to the promotion. There’s also a Facebook fan invite feature in the admin area, where if you have a csv file of a database it will tell you who is already on Facebook and send them an invite to you fan page. You should have some kind of strategy for when you message you fans and have a purpose behind it or it won’t really be as effective as it can be.
9. Facebook Strategy – If you have a Fan Page you should definitely have a concrete, flexible strategy in place to maximize your presence. Every month (or week even) your strategy should be changing and adjusting based on the previous months results, gauging whether you were either too aggressive or too conservative with your spends and resources you have allocated to it. Make it part of your weekly meetings with your executives or staff, and most definitely make it the primary focus right behind your Search strategy.
10. Looking Ahead – Facebook is changing and evolving on a daily basis, so you have to stay on the cutting-edge of what can be done on Facebook to maximize your presence. Staying up with sources like Mashable is essential to evolving your own strategy based on what’s working for companies, case studies, and new technologies for instance. Stay up to date with social media news and you will always be coming up with new ideas to grow your own social presence.
Facebook is an ever-evolving platform that is the dominant player in social networking, so you have no choice but to completely embrace it and work it to maximize what you can do there to make your brand more pervasive. These are some ideas that have worked for me, but there is ALWAYS more that can be done in this day and age. I encourage you to focus you efforts on maximize your social presence because it’s always a work in progress that should get a little bit (or a lot) bigger every month. Thanks for reading and let me know what you think!!