Is your Facebook marketing dead?

Did you know that Facebook’s algorithm uses over 100,000 different signals to determine which posts are shown? As the total volume of posts and interactions is enormous, Facebook limits the content displayed in a person’s newsfeed, prioritising the ones with high engagement (number of shares, likes and comments) within your network of friends. Combine this with the preferential treatment Facebook grants to paid advertising, and your marketing efforts are being suffocated by lack of reach.

But don’t let our fear mongering put you off. Here are our seven tips on how to improve your Facebook marketing strategy:

1) Reassess what you want to achieve through Facebook and keep iterating

Many businesses are jumping onto Facebook and creating a business page to transition into paid advertising immediately, putting a little effort into building a presence or cultivating their brand.

But to be successful in the long run, you have to work a bit harder to differentiate yourself from the mass of posts – it means creating a robust strategy to increase the organic reach and engagement. So if you want a formula for success, park your ego at the door and expect to test different segments, strategies and styles. Embrace The Lean Startup model: build the first version fast, measure, analyse and make changes based on the data. Repeat.

2) Focus on quality content (*yawn* but are you doing it?)

It might sound like a stuck record, but there’s no alternative to quality content. That doesn’t mean getting hung up on perfecting something or reiterating ad infinitum. Nor does it mean spending your entire marketing and media budget on one glossy video post. It means planning your strategy and thinking about what, when, why and for whom are you posting. It means filtering the junk and being more selective about what goes on your page and what you ask your cohorts to share. Ask yourself the question: would you share your company’s post if you didn’t work there? It’s a great acid test for whether your content is likely to be shared.

3) Know your customer personas

If you think about posting on personal Facebook profiles, unconsciously we always go through a rigorous evaluation process about what we share. We think carefully about whether others will like it, as well as what that post will say about us as individuals. On Facebook, we typically know the personas of the majority of the people in our network. But do we do this with our business page? Are we really engaging with our customer personas to best fit our posts? Or are we just churning them out so that our newsfeed looks like we’re active?

Always think about whether posts you make are entertaining, valuable or informative. Reflect on how well the post will be received by your ideal persona and try to engage them through your post descriptions. Iterate based on feedback and data and move towards what your customers actually like and not what you think they like. Have a look through this previous post to see how you can use analytics and customer input to shape your content strategy.

4) Build relationships and look after your tribe

Let's be honest; most companies don’t fully realise the potential of the fans they already have (whether ten or ten thousand). Facebook gives the higher priority to signals from friends and family, and you should treat your existing fan base as your marketing minions. Send them out onto the social battlefield and get them liking and sharing your posts. If they’re not sharing, then find out why. Make sure you find some way of rewarding them for their involvement.

One common reason for low engagement is the lack of personal touch. If your business page is devoid of all humanity, then don’t expect many humans to come there. You don’t have to talk to everyone but think of the posts by your friends, and the comments thread underneath – commenting makes everything real and reveals the type of person behind the keyboard. And there’s a point worth remembering: when you build a relationship with one customer on social media, it usually has a multiplying effect.

5) Ask your fans to create content

The next step is getting your users or community to generate posts themselves – a tactic that will accelerate reach and engagement as Facebook purrs when it sees content produced by individuals and the content going viral within user's network. Build engagement with the influencers within your audience, and you’ve got yourself a social media strategy with a life of its own.

Plan and be creative with the system of rewards you utilise. How you encourage and incentivise your fans to create content can take many forms, and repurposing and raving about user generated content can even be the reward itself (check out how Virgin Holidays used UGC for their Florida Uncovered marketing video).

6) Get on Facebook Live (we know it might be scary, but be brave!)

In a recent podcast by Perpetual Traffic, Mke Stelzner (founder of Social Media Examiner) points out how important Facebook Live is becoming. He highlighted that using it “gets a free pass” from the protocols of Facebook, jumping straight to the front of the queue and increasing your reach.

Using and watching Facebook Live means that users are staying ‘tuned in’ to Facebook – exactly what the Facebook ‘Overlords’ want everyone to be doing. They need you to stay to maintain eyeballs on the site so they can increase their exposure. Flip this around, and you realise that anything that leads to people navigating away from Facebook is something they want to discourage.

If you’re able to stream events, or interviews, or seminars you’re holding, then you’ve already got content that you can link up to Facebook Live. Embrace it; don’t be afraid!

7) Pay if it makes sense

There are two parts to this. The first is that not all companies need or will benefit from paid advertising. Social Media Examiner points out that because they have so many followers, they don’t benefit from trying to extend their reach with paid advertising. It comes down to ROI and whether what you pay for an impression gives you good conversion. Think carefully about whether it is the most effective use of your resources. Having said this, don’t be afraid to use paid adverts. Even if you would not get direct conversions, you'll get loads of data that helps you focus and improve your content strategy.

The second part is split testing your ads. Make sure that your ad works and that you only use those that meet the metric test. Take advantage of tools such as Website Custom Audiences or Audience Insights to focus in on what works, or cut your losses when it doesn’t. Keep things fresh and mix up your top performers with new ideas to improve the old campaigns.

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Share with us what great tips and tricks you’ve found and let us know what you think of this post by giving us a shout out on Twitter or Facebook.

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