This week Facebook, with the help of Enterprise Nation, have been hosting some “Boost Your Business” events. As they had one here in Birmingham, I decided to go along. If you want your Facebook page to get noticed, read on (but grab a cuppa, its a long one)…
“Every business has a story”
Why do businesses use Facebook? To share their stories with customers. It seems that if you don’t have a presence on the largest social media platform worldwide, then customers are not going to take you seriously. Yes, even if you have a really slick website. Don’t believe me? The facts speak for themselves:
* There are 25 million people using Facebook each day in the UK alone through their mobile devices;
* Each user checks their Facebook account around 11-14 times per day on average;
* When users discover content they like, they share it;
* There are more mobile devices (smart phones, tablets, etc.) worldwide than toothbrushes;
* The use of mobile devices has driven the direction Facebook has moved in;
* Video is the fastest growing type of content on Facebook, with over 4 billion video views every day.
I don’t know about you, but I was actually amazed at these figures and, like it or not, Facebook represents a massive opportunity for all businesses, whether they’re a local business, national business or an export business.
Why don’t people see my posts?
Admit it, this is your number one frustration with Facebook. You post regularly and you haven’t changed the kinds of things you post, but your “reach” (the people who actually see your posts) has dropped over the last 12 months. Yes? You’re not going to like this, but the problem isn’t Facebook, it’s possibly you. As I said above, Facebook is viewed on so many mobile devices that this has shaped the way Facebook works. (I guess if you want to blame someone, blame Apple and their iPhone, they started it.)
Think about how Facebook looks on your mobile device, be it a tablet or phone or whatever. The screen is obviously smaller – there is less space to view the content that you want to see. Therein lies your problem. We all want to see posts from our friends and family, silly videos or whatever we go on Facebook to see and your business is competing to get inbetween all of these posts.
Facebook changed the way we see content because we, as users, wanted that change. We want to see our friend’s holiday photos, our cousin’s new baby, a colleague’s new hair cut, a silly cat video… all of it. What we don’t want is to scroll through a ton of posts selling stuff to us. Our time is precious, the space on our screens is precious. I think once you start to think about Facebook as a user again, rather than a business owner, you appreciate this more.
Of course, as a business owner, you absolutely want to be seen! There are things you can do to help, but spoiler alert… you have got to think about investing in Facebook Ads. Come on, don’t tell me you’re surprised. Of course Facebook want you to pay for advertising – why wouldn’t they? Facebook is a business too. Yes it’s a globally-dominating business worth billions, but why should they give any of us a free ride? (Please don’t read this assuming I’m some Facebook fan girl because I’m really not.) Think about it this way:
There are 40 million small businesses using Facebook to connect with customers, and in 2014 Facebook enabled $227 billion of economic impact and 4.5 million jobs globally.
Facebook’s global economic impact. Deloitte, January 2015.
Why should a business give away free advertising to what must be in excess of 40 million small business by now? Would you? I get that it’s frustrating, I get that it has an impact on your business but just moaning that “I posted this a year ago and got 500 likes but today I only got 75 likes” isn’t going to change a thing.
At the Boost Your Business event, they stated that getting into people’s newsfeeds is not going to get any easier due to the increase in useage of mobile devices and therefore adverts are the way to get seen. They also pointed out that Pages makes your business instantly mobile without investing in a website and it means that it doesn’t matter what device is being used to view your page on. This is a massive benefit to using Facebook. You need to start thinking of your business as mobile too and invest in yourself. Facebook say they want to be:
“the best minute of your time, and the best pound you spend”
They may be onto something with this, because actually when you look at it, it doesn’t cost a great deal to boost a post to make sure that everyone will see it. Facebook Ads are quick to set up (especially if just boosting a post) and they’re cheap in comparison to using printed media. Plus, with this you get all the stats. You’ll see who has engaged with your post or your page and whether this has converted to a sale and as a business owner, you need this information.
They had a Q&A panel at this event, and one of the guys runs a successful chain of barber shops. He said that to begin with he invested a lot of money into printed advertising, but realised that Facebook Ads were better because with newspaper ads or leaflets you never know how many people have seen it or whether your target market has been reached. At least with Facebook you have the control over who will see your post: local people, people within a specific demographic, likers of your page, non-likers of your page, whatever you like really and then you’ll know if those people engaged with it.
I don’t really think any of can ignore this benefit if we’re serious about growing our businesses, can we? That’s the kind of data we need to be considering.
Is it all about the likes?
Here’s a radical thought:
The number of likers your page has means nothing.
This isn’t coming from Facebook, this is my own interpretation of what was discussed, but I honestly believe it. Right now my Facebook page has around 500 likers, which is great and I’m happy to have them all, but I know that I have a core of around 50 fans that regularly comment, like posts or share them. That is way more valuable to me as a business owner, than having 10,000 likes that I’ve bought (yes, people do that!), traded likes with or are just dormant. I think the moment I realised this was a change for the better. What you’re interested in really in the number of paying customers you have (your conversion rate).
I know of a page that has likes into the tens of thousands, but the conversion rate just isn’t there. The “fans” are all there just to see the truly bizarre personal posts that the page owner shares on a regular basis. I’m not a liker of this page personally, but honestly, it’s car crash stuff. At a quick glance you’d think “Wow, this page is doing well, what a successful business” but dig a little deeper and not so much. It’s the same with people who get obsessed with taking part in ladders: likes for likes. Just stop and think about it for a moment, you’ve just spent a couple of hours going and liking all these pages and leaving those annoying “A like from me over at blah blah blah” type comments and then you’ve had a flurry of new likers as a result. You pat yourself on the back and maybe post “Wow, 1000 likers!” or similar. But then what? These people are unlikely to all be your target audience, so your conversion rate is skewed. You could be posting awesome stuff but these “like for likers” are going to ignore because they were never interested in the first place. Admit it, your time would be better spent doing a quick boost of a popular post and getting some genuine fans who will actually spend money with you.
I think that to run your page successfully you need to share quality content that people want to see as this will aid your organic growth (i.e. not paid for). This means mixing up what you’re sharing; don’t just be all about the hard sell, it annoys people. I’m no expert, I’m still figuring out the magic formula for my own page, but I do know this: what works for my page probably won’t work for yours. We’re all aiming for different audiences, so think about your audience before you post something. Aim for a few posts where you’re selling your product or your service, but also try sharing some behind the scenes stuff, some snippets from your own life, anything that helps your audience to engage with a real person. We all like that, we want to know there’s a person behind the page.
Whilst we’re talking about types of posts, a personal bugbear of mine are those posts asking you to “like this post if you can see it because Facebook is being so mean to small businesses”; basically the page owner has nothing to share but still wants to be in your newsfeed. Argh! Share something cool and interesting and I’ll like it!
Use your stats
One of the most useful features of Facebook Pages is the Insights part. If you’re not using this, you’re wasting your time. Even if you never want to part with any cash for advertising, this feature will enable to connect with your audience better. Look at yours – it’ll show you which is your best day to post, which is the best time to post and it’ll show you the engagement with your posts so you can see whether people are actually interested in what you’re sharing. Then you’ll know which kinds of posts get better results for you. Of course if you want these posts to do even better, it’s time to consider boosting them but just bear in mind that boosting every single post is unlikely to help. Just cherry pick the best ones at the right times, and Insights will help you do that. It’s like using Google Analytics for your website.
The future for small businesses
* It isn’t going to get easier to be seen on people’s newsfeeds. In fact, it’ll probably be harder.
* Facebook are investing in the messaging function on your page. They’ve noticed users like to message pages and so new features will be rolled out over the next few months (although no clue was given as to what the changes are)
* Instagram (Facebook-owned) is going to get all the analytical tools that Facebook has by September, making it another valuable resource for business owners.
* Boosting posts or using ad campaigns on Facebook is going to be the way forward if you want to get noticed and grow.
In short: Facebook Ads are here to stay and we as business owners need to use them wisely instead of wasting our time trying to find a way around it. As they say, the house always wins.
What do you think of Facebook for business use? Will you use Facebook ads? Tell me!
Look out for the second part of this post next Friday- sign up for updates or follow on Bloglovin’ to make sure you don’t miss it!