Content marketing using Facebook remains shockingly bad.
Everyone uses light switches. Yet, thankfully, not everyone automatically assumes they know how to wire them. Why? Well, it can be dangerous. The same can be said for using Facebook. It’s deceptively easy. It can also be amazingly dangerous to a brand if those managing the page don’t understand the nuance, strategy, and yes – social skills! – required.
A lot of Facebook discussion focusesontools. As a practical matter, tools are important. The real discussion, however, should focus on how you’re developing a unique blend of content that conveys your brand in a one-to-one way.
Fail this, and no tool will salvage your Facebook content marketing efforts.
The following are lessons I implemented while managing social media for three AOL properties. However, I’ll be sharing specific examples from GeorgeBowersGrocery, the specialty food business my husband and I own. This demonstrates that you don’t need to be a massive media company to benefit from Facebook content marketing practices.
For this post I’ll share three common misconceptions many people have about using Facebook to market their business. I’ll also share three savvy remedies that will strengthen your brand as it is perceived on Facebook.
Misconception #1: More Fans = Better
Growing a fan base is important. Many marketers make the mistake of salivating over the incremental increase in “likes.” It’s easy to measure. However, what you really want are active fans.
Active fans are the folks that give you thumbs up and regularly comment on your content. You want to build a small number of genuine ties over a large number of loose ties. Loose ties “like” your page and disappear. Active fans “vote ” your content up their wall and in front of others to the coveted place of “Top News.”
- Respond to or acknowledge every comment at least once.
- Liberally tag fans and other businesses so that they know we’re talking with/about them. For example, we regularly tag our artisan cheesemonger. (Admins must be connected to the fan or other business to create a linked tag.)
- Regularly say “thank you” when people show up to live events — simple, effective and overlooked by most.
As Allan Young writes at Seth Godin’s SixMonthMBA: “Think of Facebook groups. Permission in these groups is fortified by social proof. Every time a member of the group interacts with the message or the organization, that interaction can be made public for all to see. This strengthens the group and its bond with the organization or product it is attached to.”
Misconception #2: Content Must “Go Big” or “Go Home”
“Going big” on Facebook content is frequently misunderstood. Typically, it means flooding your fans’ walls with complicated sweepstakes, sales messaging or product announcements. Or, those with rudimentary appreciation for the content marketing power of Facebook typically make the mistake of connecting a Twitter account in a one-directional way and #HashtaggingTheHeckOuttaEverything. Neither do much to enhance your brand.
If the majority of your fanbase aren’t active and if your page doesn’t have a tight, inter-connected collection of active fans, your content marketing message is unlikely to be seen at all. It will be buried.
To be successful you’ll need to commit to consistent updates. You’ll also need to keep it interesting by varying the media. We incorporate a changing but regular mix of:
- Links to relevant, curated news content
- Photos of product and people, sent in real time via our iPhones
- Video from in-store events
- Facebook event invitations
- Shout-outs to specific people, organizations and fellow businesses
Mistake #3: Acme Comin’ At ‘Cha
Faceless businesses and organizations do not win. To win, you must show emotion. In short, you must be human. Generic messaging is simply ignored. While your fans aren’t paying you literally for Facebook content, they are paying you with valuable time and attention.
That’s why smaller outfits demonstrating basic social skills can out-maneuver large companies afraid to put persona into their brand.
Here are some ways George Bowers Grocery demonstrates “being human” on Facebook:
- We mostly talk about others (instead of ourselves!) and remain upbeat and positive throughout. You won’t find endless product descriptions, unmanned Twitter streams or 24/7 sales pitches.
- We aren’t afraid to share occasional “wins.” For example, recently we passed an annual Department of Agriculture inspection. That doesn’t seem so exciting, does it? Yet, more than a dozen fans gave us a “thumbs up”. Why? We suspect fans look for ways to pat you on the back if you’re doing the same for them. Your content marketing strategy should build a tight, loyal group who want to share your wins.
- We vary our “mood” occasionally, too. Whether it’s reminiscing on music playing or, allowing last century’s “original proprietor” (George himself) get on Facebook and rail against aspects of modernity, we keep the content fresh. The latter idea was sparked by a popularblogpost. Note neither have anything to do with food.
Results: 200% increase in fans since the beginning of 2010.
In short, effective content marketing using Facebook requires:
- Commitment to and clarity of your brand’s human voice
- A creative approach to messaging that is predominately fan-centric
- Direct interaction with and regular recognition of your fans and community (literally and/or figuratively)
- Curation of relevant, rotating and shareable content
- Demonstration of basic social skills (please, thank you) for fans’ valuable time, attention and recommendation to others
Woe to the business that underestimates the power of the ‘status update.’ The person or team managing your Facebook page shouldn’t be the person who simply understands how to update a page. Rather, you should entrust this extremely valuable task to the person or team who understands how to build a brand using content marketing.