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I hear this statement a lot: “My customers aren’t on Facebook.”
Really? So your customers aren’t one of the 500 million people who are? That’s an exclusive customer base indeed! The funny thing is that the same people who say this are the ones who “Like” about twenty dozen of their favorite brand and business pages.
Much like the fox with the sour grapes, what people who say this really mean is that they don’t see the value in having a Facebook page for their business.
They’ve probably set up a page and been stuck at 26 fans since the day they created their vanity name. Or maybe they have a few dozen or even a few hundred fans but haven’t been able to make a sale or elicit a response, and to date, they haven’t seen the fruits of their labors.
If this is you, I have only one thing to say: You’re doing it wrong.
Of course, I have a lot more to say, but only if you want to turn those grapes into a nice glass of wine, which you can use to celebrate your newfound Facebook success. Here’s why you’re doing it wrong and what you can do to fix it.
You Don’t Post Enough
Plenty of business owners build a website and then leave it out there floating around, not doing much. They treat their sites like mini online brochures and not as a potentially powerful marketing tool.
For every person who does this, there are ten who do it on their Facebook page. But unlike a website, which inherently has some information about your business, a Facebook page is essentially a blank canvas, until you create something with it.
If you’ve created a Facebook page and are leaving it out there, floating, only posting when you remember (which is once every six weeks) or when you have time (which is once every six months), then it’s definitely not going to work for your business.
You need to post enough to keep your business in front of people. Set a schedule and stick to it. And keep in mind that different people are on Facebook at different times of the day, so if you only ever post at 9AM you could be missing out on a larger audience.
You Post Too Much
It’s important to be proactive about keeping your page updated, but don’t get overzealous. Nobody wants a long stream of posts about your new hot dog toppings.
If you bombard people with updates – however clever or cute or interesting or helpful you may think they are – one of two things will happen: either people will “unlike” your page pretty quickly or they’ll hide your updates from their feed, which has essentially the same effect by making your page invisible to them.
Unless you’re the AP and a world crisis is unfolding, even two updates within seconds or minutes of each other are too many. Three or more and you’re risking an immediate Unlike.
If you’re wondering where the line is between “not enough” and “too much”, keep wondering, and good luck. There’s no science here, just marketing, measuring and marketing again.
You Aren’t Asking Questions
However unique your products or entertaining your daily inspirational quotes, the only thing that really invites a response is a question. If you want input from your fans, then ask for it – literally. Ask for feedback, opinions, ideas. Ask about problems and concerns. Ask them how their day is going. If you sell coffee, ask what their favorite flavor is. If you sell financial services, ask them what they dream of doing at retirement.
You can ask questions from the mundane to the probing; just ask. You’re much more likely to engage people and generate interaction with you, your company and your brand if you ask for input.
You Aren’t Answering Questions
If someone has posted a question to your wall or in a comment on one of your posts, and you haven’t answered it within 24 hours, you’re in trouble. Set up your page so that you get email alerts when someone posts or comments and this way you’ll know when you need to respond.
If someone asks a question it shows they are interested and paying attention and you should capitalize on that. Never let a chance to engage with a customer pass you by, because if you don’t respond, someone else will, quite possibly a competitor.
You Aren’t Part Of The Conversation
It may not come in the form of a question, but people will talk about you and to you. They’ll post on your wall. They’ll comment on your posts or other people’s posts and comments. If a conversation is going on and you’re not there to join it, you’re not only missing an opportunity but tempting fate to be unkind.
The last thing you want is a small complaint that goes unacknowledged to morph into a community bash-a-thon about your crummy customer service. It’s not practical or necessary to respond to every comment, but you should absolutely be responding to the key ones, and making your company and brand visible.
You Aren’t Monitoring Spam
If you allow people to post on your wall and comment on your posts, you open yourself up to spam. It’s annoying, but it’s inevitable, and you should make up your mind now that you’re simply going to have to deal with it as it happens. There’s a very simple response to spam: delete.
If someone posts an offer for mail order brides on your Facebook page, delete it immediately. If someone mentions their brand new MP3 player on your post about next week’s charitable event location, delete it. Even if someone posts something seemingly legitimate but it’s offensive or in poor taste, delete it. But you need to be paying attention.
The only exception here is complaints. You should never delete a legitimate complaint, but respond to it. You’ll gain a lot more credibility.
You Aren’t Growing Your Audience
If you’re not promoting your page day in and day out, you will never grow your fan base, and without a fan base you really are wasting your time. At the most basic, you should be publishing a link to your page on your website and blog, in every email communication, on your brochures, business cards, folders, sell sheets, catalogs… and try not to relegate this type of “promotion” to a teeny Facebook icon in the bottom left corner of your pages, emails or ads.
You should be shouting about your Facebook page every chance you get. Remember that while people may not visit your site or be paying much attention to your other communications on a regular basis, they sure as heck are checking their Facebook page. That gives you the perfect chance to connect with people and stay right there in front of them.
But that’s also very passive, so you should be out there actively promoting your page. It can be as easy as asking people to Like your page, from friends and family to colleagues and business partners. Or it can be as varied as running an ad, holding a contest, or offering an exclusive deal.
One way or another you need to attract, invite and compel people to join you.
You’re Trying To Sell Stuff
Let’s face it, no company puts up a Facebook business page just for the sheer, time-consuming joy of it. We like our customers, but ultimately we need to sell stuff or we won’t be in business. The trick is to sell stuff without making it seem like you’re trying to sell stuff.
There’s a balance you can strike between the hard-sell and the complete lack-of-sell. Intersperse your “buy now” messages with trivia, helpful ideas, interesting industry information or just-for-fun questions. Think of your Facebook page as an extension of your business’s personality, and in turn, an extension of yours.
Remember that people do business with people, so it’s your job to turn your business into the Facebook friend everyone wants to hang out with.
You Aren’t Offering Anything Original
If your Facebook page is just a regurgitation of whatever went out in the day’s email, Twitter stream, Tumblr or blog, then there’s no incentive for someone to join you there. While it’s a great idea to cross-promote and to repeat your messages across multiple mediums so that people who aren’t using one social media platform can find you on another, you should still make an effort to differentiate your presence on each.
That doesn’t mean your business should develop a split personality. It just means you need to give people an incentive. Publish original photos on Facebook that aren’t shown anywhere else (or have customers and fans post photos and tag themselves!) Open unique discussions. Offer exclusive coupons or deals.
Just give people a reason to be there with you.
You Aren’t Measuring Anything
Facebook offers rudimentary statistics called “Insights” that give you some basic demographic information about your fans. While this isn’t necessarily robust, you can still get an idea of who your audience is, so you can tailor your message.
Beyond Insights, you can monitor the number of Likes and comments you get on individual posts, so you can see what kind of updates get the most attention. You can check the number of impressions each update gets, so you can get an idea of the best time of day to post for maximum exposure. And you can (and should) tag any link you publish with tracking code so that when you check your regular website analytics reports, you can see how many of its visitors came from Facebook and even what campaign drove them there.
Unless you’re tracking and measuring you’ll never really know how your page is faring or what you can do to improve it.
You Don’t Think It’s Important
This should go without saying but if you start the Facebook marketing process with the expectation that it isn’t going to do much for you and it’s not an important part of your overall marketing strategy then you’re going to run smack into the self-fulfilling prophecy.
If this is your frame of mind, then don’t start at all. You’ll save yourself the time complaining about it later when it doesn’t work. Exactly the way you expected it not to.
If you have a Facebook business page, start looking at ways you can use it more effectively by taking any of the measures outlined here. Try something, see how it goes. Then try something else.
Like all marketing, it’s about the craft and the creativity and the dedication you apply that makes it successful – not the medium itself.
What can you do RIGHT NOW to add ten extra Likes to your Facebook page? Think about it, then do it.