Success on Facebook: A How-To for Small Businesses
Facebook is considered by many to be the ultimate social media tool for businesses, and with good reason: with over a billion users and counting, Facebook has now become the norm for online social interactions. Facebook Pages are pretty easy to use, but many small business owners still find themselves frustrated due to EdgeRank’s complexity and lack of ways to measure success. There are many different ways of measuring success within Facebook, but in order to get there, we must break down the social network to show how small businesses can take advantage of it.
Let’s take it from the top. (I’m going to go ahead and assume your business has a page. If not, you can check out Facebook’s guidelines.)
First: Have you claimed your place yet?
If you haven’t, then you definitely should. ‘Places’ is Facebook’s very own Foursquare-like check-in system. Anyone and everyone can check-in from their mobile devices and your business locale may already have had a couple of check-ins on Facebook. Like Foursquare, business owners can claim their business on Facebook’s ‘Places’ through their business page. Facebook has a quick step-by-step guide on how to do this, check it out.
Polishing your Business Page
Think of your Facebook business page as your online storefront, except this time, it takes more than just Windex to do the polishing. In your ‘About’ section, you have a lot of room to put any and all information you want. While it isn’t exactly necessary to fill out every single text box, you should have the basics down: short description, company overview, description, email, and website. Your ‘short description’ is the piece of information that is put on your main profile, under the profile picture and name of the page. It will be the first piece of information about your business any visitor reads, so treat it as an elevator pitch. Here are some pointers:
- Succinct is the name of the game. Too wordy and Facebook won’t let you save it
- Clarify who you are and what you offer
- Stand out, describe what makes you different
- Legitimate awards or claims-to-fame are fair play
- Have some extra space? Go ahead, add your website, but be sure to include ‘www’!
Now that Facebook has given the world Cover Photos, you’ve got valuable banner space above your Page. Believe it or not, this banner can make your page. It’s not that a bad cover photo will ruin your Facebook Page, it’s that an excellent one will captivate everyone who visits your Page. HubSpot has an excellent post on creative cover photo examples you should check out.
What you need to know about EdgeRank
Google has PageRank. Facebook has EdgeRank. EdgeRank is the newsfeed algorithm that decides what comes up on your page and what doesn’t. Yes, it seems counter-intuitive that your Page’s posts don’t show up in the newsfeeds of every person that ‘likes’ you, but this isn’t Twitter. EdgeRank is pretty complicated and, like PageRank, is constantly being updated by Facebook. Regardless, here’s what you need to know from the user’s end:
- The more someone interacts with your Page’s posts, the more posts from your Page will be shown to that person
- The more people that interact negatively with your post (i.e., ‘hide’ or ‘report for spam’), the less newsfeeds your post will appear on
- The more people that interact with specific kinds of posts (e.g., photos), the more of that same kind of post will show up in those same people’s newsfeeds
In other words, more engagement = greater exposure. So, make your posts captivating, engaging, alluring, or whatever synonym for ‘read me!’ suits your brand best.
What works best
Awesome, now that you’ve learned the basics of EdgeRank, you can get started on working around it. Simply put: not all posts on Facebook are created equal.
From my experience here at Leaf as well as The Social U, I can safely say that images are king. I’ve looked countless times at our analytics and I always see that images perform significantly better than links or text posts. In fact, that is their order of performance given my experience: visual media > links with thumbnails > solo links > solo text. Images take up the most space on the newsfeed and thus have a greater chance of catching people’s eyes, so it makes sense that they are the types of posts that get the most engagement. Facebook has even noticed this and has enlarged the thumbnails on links with featured images recently.
Your best bet is to use pictures with a Bit.ly link (don’t know Bit.ly? You should check it out) attached to your description. Don’t think your business has enough visual content you could use? Then you haven’t looked hard enough. Behind-the-scenes types of pictures and peculiar images around your business always perform great. See examples below:
Finally, to the good part. Facebook gives you an enormous amount of data in your own Page under ‘Insights’. These analytics are very easy to understand, and include everything from your audience’s demographics to each post’s performance. You can inspect each metric by putting your cursor above its respective question mark, so I won’t talk too much about those. Instead, I’ll go over the most important ones:
Demographics: Click on talking about this in your Facebook Insights and you’ll get an age, gender, language, and location breakdown of your Page’s community. You surely have a well-defined target audience, and here is where you can see if you’re reaching them.
Percent of Engagement: Each post has a Reach number and an Engaged users number. You can keep track of how engaging each post is by dividing Engaged / Reach, giving you a percentage of how many of the people you reached actually engaged with that post. You can choose to track the performance of each post, or you can average them out and track each week’s post performance. Compare this to the amount of followers you’re gaining per week and you have a good measurement of week-to-week performance, as well as how attractive your page is to new visitors.
Traffic from Facebook: If you’re directing traffic to your blog or your website, then the amount of traffic you’re getting from Facbeook is a metric you must follow. Remember when we spoke about Bit.ly above? Well, Bit.ly tracks clicks, and you can even see where each click came from (e.g., Facebook vs. any other medium you posted that link on). If you’re not using Bit.ly but still want to get Traffic metrics, check out Google Analytics. It’s free, and you can see your traffic sources as well as social referrals and an enormous amount of information about your site.
- Amount of Shares: It’s good for people to ‘like’ your posts, but it is significantly more valuable when people share them to their friends. When shared, your post (and page) is displayed on new user’s newsfeeds, increasing your Page’s exposure. Additionally, sharing your post is the equivalent of saying Wow, other people should see this, and that is a sign you’re doing something right.
This post was originally published on Leaf's SMB Blog, and is part of their upcoming Ebook 'A Guide to Social Media for Small Businesses". Check the Leaf Blog weekly for the latest chapters.
Álvaro J. Soltero is an Content and Social Media Strategist for Leaf, a Cambridge based tech startup that provides a mobile point-of-sale system and an intuitive business management platform in the Cloud. You can check out Leaf's Small Business Blog here. Álvaro also runs a social media blog for higher education called The Social U, where he writes about privacy and networking using social ...
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