How Local Business Can Use Facebook And Other Tools To Grow their Brands In A New Social Media Environment
Do you feel that your business is forced to have a Facebook page? Do you get the sense that people don’t know, or would really rather not spend the considerable time necessary to use it to its full potential? Are you unsure of the value of social media to the growth of your business?
A lot more businesses are asking these questions today, particularly local businesses. At the same time, they feel like they have to do something with social media or risk losing out to competitors with active Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other accounts.
Since it’s the most preferred social media platform for business, we’ll focus on Facebook in this post, but other social media platforms are similar in many ways.
The Facebook Roller Coaster
If I were to create a theme for social media marketing over the past two years, it would be “Social Media Marketing ain’t what it used to be, and it ain’t going to be this way in the future”.
Things have changed so much on these platforms in recent years. One major change when Facebook shifted users from an organic reach model to a paid reach model.
Businesses are now trapped, unable to leave Facebook, but knowing that organic reach is now only about 1% to 6%, accompanied by decreasing rates of engagement (likes, shares, comments, clicks). They’ve got to pay to get their brand message out.
Other major changes come from tightened security and posting rules because of major privacy breaches and Russian and special group manipulation of the platform to influence a US presidential election.
Facebook’s size and free speech practices have attracted monetary fines and the attention of people across the globe who want to break it up (Google and Amazon are also under the same scrutiny), or at least create laws to control it.
Image courtesy of: Kay Kim(김기웅)
Throughout the last few years, we’ve also seen Facebook ads get more expensive, new platform trends (like video, groups, and Stories), countless algorithm changes, and new restrictions in posting policies.
Here’s are examples from Mari Smith in a recent Social Media Examiner interview. Mari is a consultant for Facebook and the leading expert on Facebook marketing. She’s also the author of “The New Relationship Marketing: How to Build a Large, Loyal, Profitable Network Using the Social Web”.
What Is Working on Facebook
Mari says video gets the best engagement on Facebook, followed by question posts with the second best engagement, and photo posts with the third best engagement.
What Isn’t Working on Facebook
First, Mari says, don’t even bother sharing YouTube video links. If you find a great YouTube video obviously belonging to someone else and you just love it and you want to share it, go right ahead. But don’t expect that page post to get much reach or engagement. YouTube is Facebook’s main competitor, so it’s automatically going to give that content less reach.
If the video is yours, load it up natively to Facebook. If the video belongs to someone else, look for it on Facebook and share it from the original owner’s upload.
While native content is best, Mari stresses that doesn’t mean you can’t schedule your content. She suggests using Agorapulse or the native Facebook scheduler.
Link posts, which used to be part of everyone’s strategy, are also getting tricky. BuzzSumo analyzed 777 million posts throughout 2018 and found that without question, link posts for any article, blog post, or website that lives outside of the Facebook ecosystem get the lowest reach and the lowest engagement.
And then there’s the fact that average organic reach is now 1% to 6%.
Further, because Facebook is trying to serve high-quality, meaningful content in the feed, memes or quote graphics aren’t working anymore. In fact, according to BuzzSumo’s research, video posts are outperforming photo and still image posts by 73%.
That’s a lot of stuff to think about for our already Facebook-conflicted minds! It’s also clear that we can expect to see continuous change as these economic, political, technology and business issues play out over the next few years.
It’s not surprising that businesses don’t know how best to use this platform to grow their business. Many of their pages are active in name only. But some are very active and enjoy the benefits that come to active social media users.
Abandon Facebook As A Marketing Tool? Of Course Not!
Despite the challenges above, there are still plenty of benefits for using Facebook. Facebook and other social media platforms:
- Sends traffic to your website
- Builds a relationship with your followers
- Increases loyalty in a way that websites cannot
- Attracts leads for your products and services
- Allows the business to learn from comments, shares, feedback, and likes
- Provide a brand messaging platform – a place to tell your story
- Provides a communication platform for all sorts of business
- Provide ad platforms and a wealth of information about your targeted customers
So, don’t give up on Facebook or social media. In my view, it’s still worth the effort. We just need to get smarter about using Facebook and other social media platforms and accept that this will be a continuous learning experience. In addition, every business needs to think about how to expand the types of marketing tools in its toolbox.
12 Ideas For Local Businesses To Use Social Media and Other Tools To Grow Business
The idea is to broaden the discussion from “How do we use Facebook in our business?” to “How should we use all of the marketing tools available to grow our business and brand”? In the coming years, you don’t want to put all of your eggs in the social media basket.
- Make a commitment to budget social media time every week (it’s better every day, but that’s a time/money/resource call). Pay attention to the frequency that your competitors post, and try to exceed it. Regularly spending time posting to pages makes it look like the business cares about its online presence, and that it’s handling that responsibility professionally.
- Designate someone to be responsible for managing social media. It may be best to hire a resource or virtual assistant to create content posts and interact with followers.
- Post as frequently as you can to Facebook, and other platforms. Use question posts, video (uploaded natively as we’ve seen from Mari Smith discussion above), or image posts. Posting to other platforms like Twitter, IG, LinkedIn can expand reach and engagement.
- Add a simple chatbot to your Facebook Messenger. This provides another way to increase follower engagement and communications with your page and reduces the amount of time needed to interact with people looking for information. A large number of inquiries on business pages go unanswered. Chatbot technology could help solve that problem and give your social media a more professional feel.
- Use social media headers as an additional space to engage followers. Most businesses overlook Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram headers as a powerful marketing space. In some cases, the header takes up 30% to 50% of the screen area. This area could be used to display testimonials, offers, product information, or holiday greetings. Some platforms send out notifications every time the header is changed, generating curiosity and engagement.
- Use post scheduling tools for making it easier to post regularly. Facebook’s post scheduler allows you to be more efficient by creating a number of relevant posts all at the same time and then post them automatically at the day and time you’d like. There are also third-party platforms like HootSuite and others that can manage multiple social media platforms.
- Increase activities on Google My Business. This platform has greatly improved over the last few years and grown in influence. Consistent posting to a verified GMB page has major benefits to search rankings and visibility. Why? Because Google has made it clear that this is the platform of the future for local businesses to be found in mobile, and local searches. Google has turned this into a practical tool that allows posts, comments, customer interaction, reviews, offers, and all sorts of business information to engage people searching for products and services.
- Invest in building customer email lists. Anything that happens on social media belongs to the platform owner. Developing an email list for your own business is an asset that pays dividends, allowing the business to market and communicate with customers as long as they are subscribed. For example, setting up a mini-course, or email campaign through an autoresponder is an engagement builder that a business owns and controls (once they have an email list). This comes in handy if Facebook decides to ban or restrict your account, or makes changes that you can’t live with.
- Consider using snail mail in your marketing mix. Many businesses still have success with direct mail. In fact, people enjoy the refreshing simplicity of it. Looked at unfairly as “old school” it can reach customers, patients, and clients in a way that noisy social media platforms can’t.
- Make Brand Journalism a part of your marketing. A series of news releases about your company, its activities, products, and people, syndicated to authority media sites, can bring more traffic and valuable backlinks to your website
- Use paid advertising in the marketing mix. Don’t depend on organic social media reach. Boost your posts, use search or display ads to bring attention to the brand. Video ads on YouTube or Facebook are a particularly good bargain.
- Respond to every online review. Monitor Google and Facebook for customer reviews. Respond professionally to both positive and negative reviews. Google views these interactions as important engagement content and gives more search engine ranking love. Uniquely, the business gets to spread its branding message for free.
What other ideas do you have for using social media for growing your local business?
What Grows Business is a marketing and advertising blog owned by the B2B Resource Team LLC, dedicated to helping clients achieve an online presence that fits their goals. Contact us if you’d like to discuss your online presence challenges at 941 256 2468
Photo By bill barber