The Best Ways to Build a Facebook Audience for Inbound Marketing
A content and social media marketing specialist, Ben Jacobson joined the Lean Labs team in the summer of 2014. Ben has been active as a digital branding professional since the early days of social media, having overseen projects for brands including MTV, National Geographic, Zagat and Wix. His writing has appeared in Social Media Explorer, Search Engine Journal, Techwyse and the Mad Mimi Blog. Ben resides just south of the Carmel Mountain ridge in Israel with his dashing wife and two sprightly descendants.
For part two of our “Ultimate Guide to Using Social Media for Inbound Marketing” series, let's dive right in and learn about starting from scratch with marketing on Facebook.
Facebook is exceptional because it’s far and away the most popular social network, boasting nearly 1.4 billion active users worldwide, over 60% of whom log in at least once daily. It is also home to the most evenly-distributed demographics of any existing platform. The users here are interested in content discovery, keeping in touch with friends and family, sharing one another's photos and passing the time participating in light banter via their newsfeeds. Facebook is not the place for serious business discussions.
Facebook for Inbound Marketing
Thanks to these characteristics, Facebook is generally considered the best tool for increasing brand awareness. Certainly, for B2C products or services – especially companies aiming to engage with anyone over age 25 – a Facebook Page is a required building block in your social media strategy.
It isn't necessarily a powerhouse of performance for some industries, but with 1.4 billion users frequenting the platform, you kind of have to be here no matter what. In the same sense that SEO is important because everyone uses Google, maintaining a Facebook presence is important – you need to be there because your audience is there.
Get More People to Like Your Posts
Once your Page has been set up and published, with the About tab's basic fields populated, a few posts and a nice cover image and avatar, you're ready to invite all of your own friends to like your Page. Oh, and don't forget to like your own Page!
Keep in mind, though, that in order to invite your friends, you must "use Facebook as" yourself – not as your page’s administrator.
Next, invite your email contacts to like your Page. You can simply import them by clicking “Build Audience” at the top of your page and then selecting “Import Contacts.” This module allows you to reach out to your LinkedIn contacts, too, which are potentially even more important than your personal Facebook friends, depending on your strategy.
Paid Audience Acquisition
After you’ve built a baseline audience as organically as you can, it’s time to pay the piper. Facebook readily admits that organic reach on Page posts is close to zero, so if you want your posts to appear in the feeds of even those who have already liked your Page, you have to pay up.
Luckily, Facebook’s platform for "promoted posts" is highly intelligent, allowing you to ensure your content shows up in the newsfeeds of either people who have already liked your page, or instead, a specific target audience you selected, based on age, location, preferences and any number of other powerful targeting parameters.
Advertising on Facebook can be both inexpensive and highly targeted. Use Facebook’s graph search to identify people who are interested in your product. Study what they like and what they buy, and base your targeting on what you’ve learned. Finding out what other Pages your target audience is interested in is critical to a successful advertising campaign. Your ads will make it easy to reach people who are most relevant to your message – remember, displaying your content to thousands of people who don’t care isn’t nearly as impactful as putting it in front of dozens who do.
Learn from the Successes of Others
Next, take a look at your competitors and other companies operating in spaces similar to your niche. Identify the market leaders and examine their Pages. Find the ones who have already cultivated an engaged audience and are well established. This type of competitor monitoring is important to do on an ongoing basis and can be made even easier thanks to Facebook's "Pages to Watch" module.
Perform a graph search on “Pages liked by people who like [competitor's Page name]” to find out what other content these companies' audiences are consuming. What other Pages do their fans like, and how are these Pages going about driving meaningful engagement to build communities?
Try New Things and Measure Impact
Don't be afraid to diversify and experiment a bit with post timing, post media types, tone, call-to-action formulations and organic post targeting settings.
Experiment with using hashtags too, to reach a broader audience. Those who track topic-oriented posts by monitoring the hashtags you use can discover your brand this way and may become new fans of your Page. While hashtags are much more commonly used on Twitter and Instagram, Facebook does support them as well, and there may be some relevant gems that you can leverage.
With all of these experiments underway, it's important to pay close attention to your Facebook Page Insights on a regular basis. These metrics will reveal demographic data on your audience, what times of day they're most active on Facebook and which of your posts are driving the most engagement – all extremely useful information to determine which tactics perform the best for you.
Maximizing Your Facebook Footprint
Now that we’ve covered your main strategic moves, here are a few more actionable tips for expanding your Facebook footprint.
First, ensure that you have a custom Facebook "vanity URL" (http://www.facebook.com/EquineCalculator as opposed to http://www.facebook.com/pages/Equine-Calculator/857469375913?ref=ts, for example) so it will look nice when you use it in your marketing collateral.
Also, make sure you’ve placed a “Like” button in strategic locations of your website's templates. Most sites publish icons linking to all of their social profiles together in their headers or footers. In addition, it may be a good idea to place a Facebook Page-promoting box in the sidebar of your blog, so as to leverage social proof – seeing a grid of familiar faces who "like" you can go a long way.
Because social sharing is the most common form of content discovery, and Facebook is where the lion's share of sharing takes place, it makes good sense to ensure that your onsite audience is empowered to share with ease. Place Facebook share buttons on each individual piece of content you produce.
Finding Your Place Among the Faces
Since we're talking about the leading social media platforms, it’s likely that your business will benefit from an active Facebook Page. Keep in mind, however, that not all businesses are perfect fits for Facebook. In fact, while it’s the clear brand awareness leader for B2C, channels like Twitter and LinkedIn may be a much better choice for actually capturing leads for B2B products and services.
Selecting which channels are right for you is a critical decision and must be researched before starting with any social media activity. On the other hand, Facebook's usership is broad and loyal, which means that it may be a good idea for you to, at the very least, maintain a minimally dynamic presence on the network – just so that when people dig around and look for you, they'll be able to find you there.
There is no formula that works for everyone when it comes to driving relevant traffic and building an engaged audience on Facebook – or any digital marketing channel, for that matter. Have fun, provide valuable advice and keep experimenting.