Facebook is not a billboard, and should never be used as such.

There seem to be a few lines of thought on social media when it comes to what professional, corporate, and business pages are for - and what that strategy should look like.

For some, Facebook is either just a way to post funny memes and videos to get attention and add likes (the ego centric, "Hey look at us" model) , or it's just a place for a company to post about and sell it's product and nothing else (the sales only model). Neither is correct - but both kinds of uses have their place as part of a well planned social media strategy.

Why do I say that Facebook is not a billboard?  Because if you ONLY ask for the sale, without giving fans anything of value in return, you end up getting Facebook to not show your customers anything, which is the opposite of what you're trying to accomplish.  The algorithms of Facebook are finicky, and can be a confusing part of your social media plan. Facebook's algorithms are specifically designed to give relevant and interactive content to it's users. Facebook is actively looking for items and content that members will act on and view - and share with other members of the community. That's the "social" part of social media. The more value your company adds to Facebook's community in the form of engaging and useful information, the more Facebook's algorithms will serve your posts to page fans and followers.

Your business's purpose is obviously to sell product.  The purpose of your overall social media plan is to drive traffic to your website, or your newsletter, or wherever you would like your potential customers to land to purchase product.   The social media plan per post, however, is not to drive traffic to your website, the plan per post is to drive engagement numbers up, so that Facebook's algorithms know that what you're posting is relevant to your fan base.  As Facebook gages what is relevant to your fans, they will increase views on that post, and in future posts. This, in turn, increases the number of posts that your fans see that are driving them to your website (or newsletter, etc).

Facebook page's reach per post is usually around 1% of your fan base organically.  You can increase that number being reached exponentially if you purposefully create interaction and engagement on a post. Asking relevant questions, posting fan photos, etc, are strategies that can be utilized to increase that engagement. An important point: the more engaging posts are on a page, the more Facebook will serve future posts to your current fan base. So, if you have a sale coming up, making very engaging posts prior to announcing that sale and posting links to purchase (or similar type posts), will actually increase the number of fans who see those sales type posts.  Facebook's algorithms actually limit the number of your fans that see any posts that are sales in nature to less than 1% organically.  That can be mitigated by having lots of interaction on the page prior to announcing anything or posting links to purchase products.  Shooting for approximately 80% engaging content and posts, 20% sales type, call to action content and posts is a good rule of thumb in general strategy.  If you are trying to get lots of fan interaction prior to new product announcement or other big announcement, at least 90% engaging and relevant content in the week or two prior is important.

It is often extremely difficult to gain back engagement numbers quickly, so if Facebook decides your information is not applicable or interesting enough to give to your target market in their Facebook feed, they will stop serving posts to your fans, less people will interact with your page, and then even less of your posts will reach your current fans and followers. That’s definitely the opposite of what you want.

You need to give fans and followers things of value (your products and services included) and make them want to come back for more.

So how do you do this?

Here are few simple steps to avoid using Facebook like a billboard, but still bring in potential clients or customers:

1) Ask questions.  Fans love giving input (negative and positive).  Types of posts that ask them what like, want to share, etc, serve a few purposes:

  • it does some market research for you.
  • it helps increase your views and engagement because more people are wanting to answer.  They want to be heard.  The more people who comment, the more Facebook algorithm with show these to your current fans – and their friends.
  • builds ownership.  Fans feel like you are listening, so they come back for more.

2) Do real time posting.  Don't always just schedule a post and set it and forget it.  You have to show up online. Be there and engage. It doesn't have to be constant - but it should be a regular occurrence. Ask about them - ask what they're doing, and then respond back right away.  This again builds your engagement numbers, and makes Facebook's algorithm believe that you are relevant.

3) Ask people to share your call to action type posts. Sometimes people don’t even realize that you want them to spread the word.  If you ask, many will do it. 

4) Mix up your types of posts when you do need to post a sales type item.  Different types of posts are served to different people.  If you use a direct link in one post, and a photo with a link in the comments in another, you’ll reach different fans because Facebook shows your fans what they interact on most.  You can spread these out over a couple of days to reach the maximum number of fans organically. 

Using Facebook to drive traffic and sell products and services to potential customers can seem overwhelming at times, as it seems that less and less people are being reached by your page organically. With a good strategy and overall plan to increase engagement over the long term, however, it can become easier to reach more of the people who want to purchase from you.  Give them quality content and avoid acting like Facebook is a billboard, and your page will drive sales incredibly well.

Are you in the Minneapolis/St Paul area? I'll be teaching my Beat the FB {Less than} 1% seminar on November 13th. You can sign up here:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/joule-u-facebook-creating-engagement-registration-48454565911