Beginner's guide to Facebook for business

If you were to ask a marketing guru for an effective way to gain visibility and influence customers, nine out of ten would respond with two words - “Social Media”. Having a Facebook page or a Twitter account has become the twenty-tens equivalent of having a website. However just as merely having a website doesn’t increase revenue, neither does ownership of a Twitter account or a Facebook page. In this article, we focus on how Facebook for business can drive greater sales and loyalty.

With in excess of a billion Facebook users, Facebook has rapidly become the number one choice for marketers to engage with potential customers. Before we discuss three tips that savvy retailers and businesses are using to make significant gains in customer loyalty and revenue, let’s take a quick look at the Facebook Edgerank. Understanding this Edgerank and how it affects a user's newsfeed will help you to understand why Facebook in particular is beneficial to anything from local to nationwide to worldwide endeavours.

How Facebook works within a user's newsfeed

Facebook judges the usefulness & relevance to a post using a system call Edgerank. The Edgerank algorithm is a series of three factors that determines your contents posted position on a user’s newsfeed:

Affinity

This is the relationship between the post and the user. If a user has consistently interacted with your brand’s page through liking, commenting, sharing and clicking, they will have a higher affinity with your page and therefore your posts will appear more frequently and higher up their news feed.

Weight

This is Facebook’s way to differentiate values of actions and is assumed (although no one but Facebook truly knows) to be based on the amount of mental effort required for that action. For example clicking like on a status is quick and requires no thought so therefore has less weight than leaving a comment, similarly posting a video or photo has more weight than posting a web-link.

Time Decay

Unsurprisingly the older a post is, the less relevant it is deemed. The more time that has passed since the content was posted the further and further down the users’ news feeds it will appear, so in order to maintain relevance it is vital to consistently post content.

Now that you have an understanding of these metrics, let's look at three simple techniques that savvy business people use to obtain maximum impact from Facebook.

Create an Interaction

To re-iterate you need to; post regularly, post content with more weight and create an interaction with your fans to increase affinity. Many businesses use Facebook as a ‘free television’ that is to say as a one-way communication medium that allows the user to post free advertisements, what they don’t realise is that it’s called social media for a reason. The communication is two-way, if a user posts a comment on a picture or asks a question it is absolutely essential to respond because as soon as you respond you create a dialogue, build affinity, and increase your influence.

What to Share

Although the communication is two-way, people are chronically lazy. Many use Facebook when they are bored and need to see a funny video, hear a new song or see what their friends are up to. It is up to you as a business to create the content that people will flock to; entertain them, teach them something, discuss changes in your product, ask for feedback.

Posting a cute picture and sharing content about charity work has ensured that Coca-Cola enjoys a high level of attention

Coca-Cola’s Facebook page contains some excellent lessons in Social Media marketing. For example at time of writing here are several posts that appeared on Coca-Cola's Facebook page and the reactions to those posts.

  • the response to Coke posting their new advert was less than stellar, the likes and shares range in the tens rather than the hundreds, and users made negative comments about the Coca-Cola brand in the comments section.
  • links and messages about pledging money to save the polar bears had less likes but more shares and comments.
  • the pictures of cuddly polar bears had a tonne of likes, shares and comments,

The main take-away is that the promotion of your brand is through building trust through entertainment and communication not through selling your product. When posting an advert the post gets significantly less attention.

To help you understand this final point, one pottery business used to post pictures of their works, pictures of their students working and pictures of the pottery studio, the business never got more than a few likes, shares and comments. One day the business posted a picture of the company cat lazing by the window sill and the number of likes and comments exploded and as a result more people were able to see what else was on the Facebook page.

Although creativity in interaction and knowledge on what should and shouldn't be shared are effective they are not as powerful as a positive comment from a user.

There is power in user comments

Currently one of the best possible outcomes is to get the customer to mention your business in a status update or to comment on a post written on your page. This comment will dramatically increase your businesses visibility on the customer’s news feed and provide you with more presence in their newsfeed.

The reason a customer's comment is such a powerful tool is because it works in a similar way that a solid referral will help a salesperson to build more business. A positive comment or status on the customer’s newsfeed tells anyone who visits their Facebook page that your business is a quality establishment and a worthwhile experience. If you ask for a comment then you better be sure to deliver an outstanding product or service as having a negative endorsement will do as much, if not more damage to your brand and publicity than a positive comment would.

Summary

Upload photos, create videos, tell jokes just don’t sell your product. When it comes to social media your objective is to create a dialogue with the users, answer their questions, respond to negativity and be accountable for it.

Ultimately treat your businesses Facebook page like an online dating profile - in other words make it creative and engaging enough to attract new dates (customers) who would like to find out more about you and your business.

If you found this article helpful and would like to know more about using Facebook effectively, check out our guide:- how to select the best social media for your business. This 'how to guide' contains a comprehensive link list of other ITProportal guides which cover different aspects on being effective using social media.

In addition, you may also enjoy reading our guide on how to use Twitter effectively for business. This guide also contains a comprehensive link list of other guides which cover the different aspects on how to be effective using Twitter.

Other useful features and guides are listed below.

Using social media analytics to give your business the edge

Social media for customer relationship success

Social media - the great consumer shift

15 social media tips for small businesses

Security tips for social media sites

Social media the new internet security battleground

Libel and social media and lawsuits

8 social networks you should consider joining

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Guide to using Twitter effectively

Introductory guide to using YouTube in business

Winning customer loyalty through CRM and the personal touch