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Facebook Update for Small Business Owners: What do you need to do!

In February of this year Facebook disclosed that Fan pages only reached 16 percent of their audiences on average, but I’ve seen other figures that would suggest it’s been as low as 2, 3 and 6 percent. Regardless of the exact figure there’s no denying it’s a game changer for businesses and as I publish this I’m almost certain that organic reach is dead. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the “organic reach” term it basically means ‘being able to post on Facebook for free and have that post show up in the newsfeed of your current likers’. So to quickly clarify this issue and cut through the jargon – If you want to reach your audience on Facebook then you’re going to have to pay for it!

Right now I can anticipate the argumentative tones. Trust me, I’ve heard them from business owners over the past few months and they go a little something like this “It’s unfair”, “Bloody Facebook” and “Typical Corporate’. But to be honest you can grumble all you like, the reality is Facebook’s changing and they have every right to do so. You wouldn’t expect to advertise for free in the newspaper or on the radio… so why should it be any different for Facebook? In fact we should be thankful that they have allowed us to advertise freely for so long!

As a business owner you now have 2 choices:
1. Keep moaning and looking at it negatively whilst continuing to lose out on opportunities
2. You can jump on board and set up your advertising campaign now.

This article is aimed at assisting you with knowing what to do, how to do it and what ROI you can expect. In addition I’ve added a few suggestions which you can roll out in your business effective immediately.  So with all that said, here are my seven tips for effective Facebook management

1. Set up a Business Page correctly
I would say that 20-30% of the businesses I begin working with have set up a Facebook page, but it’s been done incorrectly. Often they set it up as a profile instead of a Business Page and whilst you can still post and have people like your page the biggest implication here is the lack of insights and ability to track your results. If you are in this boat you have to make the switch if you want the ability to track (and trust me you want this ability when you are investing your time, energy and cash into this platform… or any marketing platform for that matter) Facebook Insights allow you to track everything over a period of time therefore allowing you to make educated and informed decisions about future spend and future budget allocations.

2. Establish Guidelines
It’s really important to establish clear guidelines that’ll allow the person in control of your social media to obtain a clear view of what is acceptable and what is not. The bigger companies will refer to this as “being on brand” and the good ones will ensure that everyone working on their social are aware of the guidelines and have answers to the following questions:
– What type of language do you use ?
– What are your key messages?
– What “call to action” should be included in posts?
– Should there be a call to action in every post?
– What types of images are acceptable?
– What brand guidelines are to be adhered to on Facebook?
– What is the sign off protocol for posting?
– What is the timing expectation around responding to social queries?
– How do you respond to those queries (via FB or other)?
– What formal process needs to be followed for negative interaction or feedback?
– What is considered unacceptable behaviour and will not be tolerated?

And while we are talking guidelines for the business, it’s a great idea to implement Social Media guidelines for employees regarding their personal brand and profiles. After all you don’t want them slagging your business off to their current friends list when you are trying so hard to build a positive online culture. Overall, a good Social Media Management team foster engagement and treat questions, comments and suggestions very seriously. For many consumers Facebook is seen as another way to contact companies. So as a business owner please ensure you and your team reply to your Online / Social enquiries with the same level of urgency as you would a standard walk-in, phone call or email.

3. Set up a content strategy
Now that the guidelines are in place, the next step is to ensure all of your in store and offline promotions work in unison with your online strategy. All too often Social media is treated as an ad hoc process. In other words, a chance to spontaneously post up a cute photo of a cat or a TGIF post just to try and gain likes. BUT if you truly want to be gain respect and long term engagement then you need to work hard at creating an online environment that encourages your target market to like your page and ultimately engage with it. So unless you’re a pet shop please stop posting cute cat photos….   Instead start by creating a smart social plan for the month ahead. Don’t sit down and write out a 10 page strategy. Just take a blank piece of paper write down your upcoming promotions and streamline your posts to coincide with this.

4. Post regularly
If you do the above well then this becomes easy. Aim for at least 4 posts a week.
Some ideas include:
Blogs or articles
Promotions (specials and sales)
Free Advice where applicable
A positive Customer Feedback (video is always a good idea if you can get it)
Relevant product videos and photos
Links to specials in your sector
Videos of yourself speaking if it’s suitable.
A good rule of thumb is if it’s something you would talk to your customers about offline then post it online. Offer up some good advice and options. Above all Inspire, educate and inform them.

5. Don’t be Afraid:
What if you have the above ideas nailed but you never seem to get around to making them perfect enough to be posted online and released for the world to read…. Sound familiar?
Well right now I’m going to have to apologise in advance because we need to delve into a bit of psychology for a moment and talk fear of rejection. The main reason I see people not posting their great content online is because they are terrified of releasing it into the big wide world and then being subjected to disapproval, rejection, disagreements or corrections of their work. We’ve all been there and to this day many of us (myself included) always have butterflies in our stomachs as we hit post. The only difference is that I made a decision to become accountable on my points of view and not afraid to express an opinion. After all I do this everyday offline….. so I just needed to take a deep breath and enter the online world.

If your still struggling, a bit of advice I could give you is to type up your content and make sure it’s grammatically correct (or as close to perfect as you can get it 😉 Then one day when you’re feeling brave go and click upload … then walk away. Once you get your first one out of the way you’ll be fine.

6. Spend Money
If you are going to be successful in this space, then you need to change your mind-set. Facebook needs to be a paid form of advertising. It’s no different to Newspaper, Networking, Radio, TV, Brochures or Websites, it is a platform that you need to factor into your budget. Start small but be ready to up your game once the data starts showcasing good results. I’d recommend boosting your posts to begin with and once you get your confidence up look at running some advertising campaigns alongside your regular posts.

AND If it’s all a bit too hard, or you’re busier than a centipede in a toe counting contest then call us and we can help you out

7.      Track your insights
I’ve seen far too many business owners continue to spend money on marketing and advertising their business with little thought for the return on their investment. If you fall into this camp, then please invest some time in planning the campaign, establishing KPI’s, setting an ROI target dollar and then track the results. If you start working like this, then you will be able to make educated and informed decisions on what to do next. Whilst social can be really “Fun” it also needs to provide “Tangible Results” otherwise it belongs in the rubbish bin along with all the other “Bad Marketing / Advertising Campaigns” that didn’t fetch great results.

So to wrap this up it’s fair to say that the fundamentals of Facebook haven’t changed, but the ability to get in front of you audience has. It’s also really important to note that Facebook (along with all other social platforms and online advertising) is simply a tool used to drive traffic back to your website where the customer can have a look around and get in contact with you if they would like more information. So take all of the information on board, get online, get involved in Social, Plan-Plan-Plan, pay for some advertising, have fun, but most importantly focus on getting those results. As always feel free to comment, contact us or share this with others who you think it might help.