Despite the social network’s well-publicized controversies, an effective Facebook marketing strategy remains something many businesses still covet. To devise one, there are several things brands should consider before jumping into the platform.
You will have decided already whether Facebook is the right place to be for your brand. The social network has fallen out of favor with younger users who are drifting away from the 15-year-old platform to set up camp on more image-based alternatives like Snapchat and even the Facebook-owned Instagram. But despite increasing competition for attention, Facebook still boasts a huge global audience of 2.32 billion monthly active users.
There are four things you should be thinking about as you devise your brand’s Facebook plans for 2019.
Understand your audience
This is arguably the most important factor to pay attention to in the preliminary stages of devising a Facebook marketing strategy. The key aspect of social media is that it is just that: social. And as such, it has to be led by an understanding of people and accurate audience data. It is essential that marketers undertake thorough research on their target demographic prior to creating and implementing any marketing strategy.
Facebook’s own insights tool is useful for allowing marketers to see the type of audience that is viewing and engaging with their content regularly, as well as garnering information on the impressions made by this content. The data offered by this tool can include a user’s age, job, educational background and location. As such, this hands over to brands the essential pieces needed to fit together an image of their audience.
In conducting this research, it would be useful for marketers to also make use of specialized social listening tools which aid in gathering intelligence on the reception of marketing campaigns. This will help marketers to better understand their needs and the expectations audiences have of their brand, and tailor future messaging accordingly.
Prior to implementing any new Facebook strategy, it is vital to first decide the objectives which are most important for the brand to achieve. Having precise and agreed-upon objectives helps to focus the work your team is putting together and to garner better results.
When it comes to setting these objectives, brands have to be realistic in their expectations. Everyone wants to go viral, but you cannot set out with that objective; it’s easy to get distracted by likes and reactions but ultimately the content published has to drive sales or brand awareness or it’s worthless. Use the information that has been gathered on your target audience and make sure your objectives are tailored to meet this data.
Moreover, these objectives will prove useful for a brand at a later date. If performance is falling short of projections, why is that? What can be done to improve this? In establishing and sticking to clear objectives, your Facebook marketing strategy is able to be measured, and from that can then be guided.
Natalie Siagian, social media and influencer manager at Contiki touches on the importance of audience engagement and realizing which objectives are resonating most: “We can understand how we are creating these relationships with our audience and essentially building brand awareness as well. If no one is engaging with our content, it’s virtually meaningless for us. So, we look at engagement in terms of shares, comments, likes, and reactions.”
Again, social media marketers should make use of the Facebook insights tool installed in every business page/account. While the reliability of these results is debated among marketers, they do give a good measure of the qualitative and quantitative performance of a brand’s content. Utilizing this tool can help brands to reflect upon as well as build their business plan.
“Without strategy, content is just stuff and the world has enough stuff”.
This statement from Canadian writer Arjun Basu may be bandied about in every content team meeting the world over, but it rings true when deciding upon a brand’s Facebook marketing strategy. The platform has come under fire for its proliferation of ads and unrequested posts, turning audiences off brands. In the quality versus quantity argument, content absolutely needs to fall under quality. Posting too frequently makes your brand’s page seem cluttered and incohesive and implies a degree of desperation. You don’t want any viewer; you want the right viewer.
It is useful to put a content calendar in place when deciding what should be published as part of your Facebook marketing strategy. While many marketers feel this makes the content seem rigid and inauthentic, it, in fact, does the opposite; it allows social media/marketing execs to research and expertly put together the content they wish to publish, as well as decide which content will perform best and how to execute it to best advantage. Deciding which content to publish in advance will allow brands time to ruminate over what will work to your brand’s best advantage.
In addition, there’s a reason an audience turns off pages that constantly just push their products: we don’t like to be constantly sold to. However, Facebook’s interface lends itself well to interacting with customers – and one of the best ways to connect with your audience is through your content. Don’t just sell your wares. You want to position yourself as an expert in your field. This is the reason that Lush, prior to replotting its UK presence on social networks, was rated highly. The cosmetics company provided links to useful blogs on climate change, ran animal rights campaigns and promoted charities and causes which reflected its values. This helped to humanize the brand and caught and built an engaged audience on social.
Despite question marks over influencer marketing, leveraging influencers can still be a viable marketing tactic. However, it is necessary that they change their tactics. Brands are increasingly looking less to celebrities or popular influencers for support and going niche instead, seeking out more organic, naturalized support in the form of micro-influencers. This is in a move to improve transparency and drive sales – research has shown that smaller scale influencers tend to drive more engagement and better results. Marketers can look to leverage the power of influencers over the Facebook platform by staging influencer takeovers. Typically, this does work better over Instagram but that does not mean it is not useful on Facebook as a means of bolstering your Instagram strategy.
Some of Facebook’s specialized features will be more relevant to your brand than others. Facebook Messenger’s intuitive interface makes it a potent tool for brands to speak directly to their consumers. Recent studies have shown that social media users are more interested in an immersive experience of social, which should encourage brands to capitalize on developments of AI and chatbots when interacting with consumers online. Facebook Messenger lends itself easily to these trends.
Facebook Stories, on the other hand, still has its doubters. While many marketers may feel this is a useful option, Facebook Stories has faced criticism from the public. It’s seen as an Instagram copycat tactic and has been the subject of a number of internet memes and jokes. Despite Instagram being owned by Facebook, users still see them as separate platforms and have gradually jumped ship from one to the other – thus Facebook can come across like an embarrassing parent that still tries to be down with the kids.
Another feature that is relevant to any Facebook marketing strategy is the platform’s excellent scheduling tool. While other platforms force marketers to jump elsewhere to schedule posts – TweetDeck for Twitter, for instance, and third party sites like HootSuite or Sprout Social for Instagram – Facebook readily allows content to be scheduled in advance. This feature makes the realization of a Facebook content calendar much simpler.
Despite the scandals that have rocked Facebook HQ in the last year alone, we cannot underestimate the resources available in the platform’s arsenal. It was announced this year that Facebook is looking to streamline its messaging services – that is Messenger, WhatsApp and the increasingly popular Instagram – into one messaging package. By merging all messenger products into one, Facebook would allow cross-app messaging. Marketers would welcome support for collective advertising across these messenger apps.
As the innovators behind so-called dark ads or dark posts, Facebook is still an excellent place for this marketing tactic to be deployed. As social media lead at JustEat, Rachel Kneen explains the delicate balance “between manipulation and relevance. How do we use people’s data in a responsible way to give them the information they need?” Dark ads allow for targeted advertising, meaning they are only seen by chosen audiences. They do not show up on the brand’s page or on their feed, making the advertising process more streamlined, and creating a less cluttered looking feed for both the advertiser and their following.