If you are a small to mid-sized business that started up a Facebook account because, well, that’s what all the “in” companies are doing these days, then this post is for you. Good for you for choosing this high-impact, popular social media option as part of your brand identity and communication strategy. Of course it’s only strategic if you implement and operate it well. Here are a few guidelines to help increase your impact and improve your returns on Facebook.
Who Are You?
With the advent of the “Timeline,” Facebook pushed businesses to become more human. Now a company is expected to act more like people. The focus on building relationships has grown from there and now it is likely that a place of business will add pictures from the company picnic or party to the timeline, and perhaps both informational and entertaining links to other websites. Facebook offers a big chance to build a relationship with your customers. You’ve probably heard or seen this quote:
“People will forget what you said
People will forget what you did
But people will never forget how you made them feel.”
~ Maya Angelou
You can’t “feel” a machined product, a technology, a building, a telephone wire, a baked good, or whatever your business. Ask yourself “what would I look like on this Facebook page if they took away my product?” What remains is exactly what you talk about the most. Your ability to inspire, connect, communicate and build real relationships. Now you don’t want to be completely devoid of shop talk, but this deeper approach allows you to present your products and services by way of your unique, personal bond that you develop with the audience member.
Think, “How does my product/service connect with the reader to make their life better? How does my company’s existence enhance life for somebody out there; what do we do to make things better in the world?” Rather than opening with “here’s what’s interesting about ME,” let your customer know, “We understand our customers…,” “We are motivated to create the blah blah blah because of these specific things our customers need,” Talk about how connected you are with your readers. On top of that, maybe you donate something, or recycle on a large scale, or fund some kind of research or aid education. Perhaps you are involved in some way that stretches beyond the scope of your product or service. Whatever it is, it is part of your values and says something about who you are. All of these connections are important building blocks between you and your customers. Talk about it and get them talking about it.
Focus on Value or Forget it.
When it comes to online content, keeping customers engaged and wanting more is a balancing act with a focus on quality. Is specific attention placed on high-value content based on serving your customers’ needs? Or are you primarily collecting “likes?” Research shows that 98% of folks who click the “like” button do not return to the Facebook page again*. In the digital marketing game it is critical that a business maintains a high value paradigm or not even bother. To push idle chit chat and fun games is okay for a coffee break, and certainly not every Facebook page has to be too restrained. But if value-driven take-aways are not the priority, your audience will move on to some else’s page where their needs are king. According to Moore, if you are not investing in long-term value relationships by providing content your audience trusts you just might be short for the digital world of business.
Is Facebook Enough?
Be watchful when planning your social media strategy. While employing Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn makes for wise marketing moves, you are playing by someone else’s rules. Absolutely take advantage of the reach and impact these sites offer, but be certain that your website is up-to-date too. The company website, if well-designed and well maintained is the one online marketing source that you own and control in this mix. No one knows what happens to your Facebook page in 6 months. Would your readers seek you out if Facebook ceased to exist and a new social media site went up suddenly? How can you ensure this? It always comes down to building trust, offering relevant high value, and creating strong relationships. Also be sure to point all of your social media messaging to your website where you have complete control of your representation of your brand and values.
So long as you keep your communication efforts aligned with building trust and long-term relationships, you will be likely to make good choices for your online content. Be sure to keep writing and stay on top of your news and information. An up-to-date source of information is much more likely to garner trust and better business. The bottom line, make Facebook, other social media, and your website work for you – and not the other way around.