Two women talking face to face and smiling

Facebook is a personal network

First and foremost, Facebook is the most personal of all the social networks. It’s a place where mums, dads, friends and colleagues share their news, photos, interests and life stories. Currently boasting over 600 million daily users, Facebook has established itself as THE social network. But despite the company’s attempts to convince brands that this is the medium through which to directly market to their consumers, a survey in 2011 showed that users did NOT want to engage with brands through Facebook. Corporate-style posts were highly unpopular as consumers become more savvy about advertising. That’s not to say that it’s not possible to make Facebook work for your brand or business. Brands have finally caught on and posts are now more engaging, innovative and light-hearted than before. Indeed, more than 42 million business currently have a Facebook page, which is encouraging, but are they really all effective?

Lets say you have 100 people who ‘like’ your page. That’s 100 followers who, you assume, will see every single post you will ever create. It’s a nice idea, and one that Facebook are keen to make you believe, but the reality is that Facebook monitors the effectiveness and popularity of each of your posts. If, for instance, your last post wasn’t at all successful, and didn’t reach that many people, you are given a rating, of sorts, and that rating dictates how many people see your next post in their News Feed. It’s called “Edgerank”. It means that only 16% of your followers are ever likely to see your posts. A frightening thought if you believed everyone saw every post, especially if you use Facebook for direct marketing. Make your entries more exciting and engaging, however, and your supporters are more likely to share it, thereby extending your reach. Edgerank will see this and increase the visibility of your next post. Continue to create exciting content and your audience could grow a long way beyond the number of people who ‘like’ you. By far the most successful posts are photos. In this example, the post was shared 375 times and it achieved 2,759 likes!

Photo of Talisker Whisky set against a background of snowy mountains

A superb photo is sure to be shared among your fans

According to this blog post, it’s best to use what you say to subtly deliver brand messages. Rather than posting updates about your latest deals, instead post information/photos/news which could be useful or interesting to your fans. Be the expert. Remember, it’s about who you are, what you do and why you are the best. Identify ways to share your knowledge and expertise with your customers and your brand image will benefit as a result.

The Golden Rule

Businesses can use Facebook to nurture relationships with their customers. The goal is not to achieve thousands of likes but to make sure the likes you do achieve are engaged at all times and committed to supporting your activities. Establish which friends have the most friends and work on building a relationship with them. reward them for sharing your content and show your appreciation is whatever way you can. If you can’t give away prizes, a simple and enthusiastic ‘thank you’ will suffice. Understand your audience and make sure your content is RELEVANT to them. Above all…. Listen!

For further tips see this blog post.

Facebook is an excellent tool for increasing brand awareness, since you have your logo, company name and brand colours all over your profile page. It allows you to showcase your brand’s personality (see “4 Unique Ways to Use Facebook for Your Business“) and introduce people to your history, your strengths, your particular area of expertise. Your timeline is a really useful way to present your story in a creative way. According to Social Media Examiner, business timelines are blooming all over Facebook. So, make the most of any product releases, charity days, events and so on by posting lots of photos and interesting content.

Screen shot of the Bells Food Group community page on the website

Provide a link to key pages on your website

Facebook as an SEO tool

When writing content for your page, remember to occasionally include some reference to your company website. Something they can download, some news piece, your company values or your community page. Increased traffic to your website creates fresh activity, which will improve your Google ratings. Provide a clickable link to key pages and put it straight into your status update.¬†Our own Bells Food Group Facebook page has evolved as we have grown more confident in using it, and as a result, traffic to our company website has increased more than 500% in a like-for-like four week period earlier this year. We can always do better. We constantly listen to our friends and monitor which posts do better than others. Most of all, we don’t stop learning.