7 Keys to Using Facebook for Business

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Like all social media, there’s both an art and a science to using Facebook. I think many people are fairly aware of the odd mix of methodical anthropology, psychology, and data analysis that dominates strategy discussions.

But what about mastering the art of Facebook? How do some people get it so right and others so wrong? I can’t cram that all into one blog post, but this post should get you thinking about what you’re doing with your Facebook page. Some of these things have been said a million times, others not enough.

1. Don’t Be THAT Guy.

Picture that annoying guy you know. Yeah, that one. Now picture that guy at a work party. He’s talking about his banjo (again), repeating himself, outpacing everybody else on the whiskey, repeating himself. He’s pretty much clueless about his environment and it’s not pleasant to be around…

So your first tip is: don’t be that guy. Your goal is to be friendly and interesting without seeming self-centered. Talk up your business while keeping your swagger in check. Simple, right? Maybe, maybe not, depending on your social skills. Next, it’s time for some self-reflection.

2. Examine How You Use Facebook. 

Take stock of your own Facebook behavior. Start asking yourself some questions:

What kind of content do I prefer? Why? What does it take for me to like, comment on, or share someone else’s post? When do I check my News Feed? What kinds of status updates do I share with my friends and family? Are there brands I engage with on Facebook? Why those brands? 

When you’re planning to do social media for your own brand, it’s important to put yourself in the place of your customers. How you use Facebook personally can tell you something about how your audience might be using it.  Next, help yourself to some data. 

3. Check Out the Metrics: How Do Your Customers Use Facebook? 

If you already have a Facebook Page for your business, you’re in luck—you’ve got access to Facebook Insights, a tool which can tell you a surprising amount of info about the demographics of your Facebook Fans, as well as which of your content is most popular and how you’re doing overall with your efforts. 

Page Insights come in two forms: a web-based, infographics summary of key points and a downloadable, comprehensive spreadsheet of performance metrics with dozens of columns of data points—yes, dozens. 

That’s a lot of information to take in—arguably too much. But you can gain a good sense of what’s working by studying your Insights. 

Unfortunately, the one thing Facebook Insights won’t tell you about your Page’s performance is why

4. Understand How the UX Factor Comes Into Play.

If you keep up with Internet marketing news, you’ll frequently read how the number of people seeing your content is only a small subset of the larger number of people who’ve liked your brand Page, or how the latest change in Facebook’s programming is going to negatively impact your business account even more. 

This may be frustrating after the effort put in to amassing hundreds or thousands of Facebook Fans. But this is another point where you should turn around and look at Facebook from your customer’s perspective? 

Why would you want to login to your personal Facebook account only to be inundated with nothing but ads? If using Facebook isn’t a pleasant user experience, it doesn’t matter how many people have liked your page, they just won’t log in again. A good user experience—UX in Internet parlance—is crucial to the continuing success of Facebook with users. That’s why the company is trying to cut out spammy ads—at least the ones that aren’t paying ad placement customers (but that’s another post for another day). 

The key to remember is that Facebook will reward your good Facebook behavior. It just wants business pages to be good social media citizens. 

5. Follow Some Dos and Don’ts. 

For starters, try to avoid traditional canned marketing or PR speak. Talk to your customers how you’d like to be talked to. Additionally:

  • DO create a personal connection between you and your customers.
  • DO tell your story through a voice and tone that’s authentic for you personally.
  • DO keep it short yet interesting.
  • DO make a habit of posting quality, original content—such as photos, stories, and relevant links—on a regular basis.
  • DO plan ahead.
  • DO engage your Fans—ask questions, respond to comments, seek and accept feedback.

On the other hand:

  • DON’T take billboard or magazine ad copy and stick it on Facebook.
  • DON’T post the same thing over and over, ESPECIALLY word for word.
  • DON’T fish for compliments, likes, or attention.
  • And DON’T ignore feedback from your Fans.

Aim for sociable and interesting without being egocentric. 

6. Set Aside Time for Planning & Execution. 

Once you’ve got the mindset to be an interesting, friendly social media citizen, you need to make it happen. It can take up to several hours each week in order to create and post quality content on a regular basis. Even if you schedule your posts in advance, you’ll need to know what you want to write about and spend time on strategy. 

You should also spend a couple hours each month reviewing your current strategy and its results. Are you meeting your goals? (You did set some goals, right?) What kinds of content (photos, stories, links) got the best response? How would you improve your strategy going forward? 

If you have a particularly important event, sale, or promotion coming up, you may even consider purchasing paid advertising. Facebook Ads can give you a much wider reach beyond just your Page Fans audience. But you still want to follow the above dos and don’ts when you craft your paid ad—remember, your audience still wants to be treated like a person. 

7. Be in it for the Long Game.

If that seems like a lot to take on, you’re not alone. It’s not an overnight fix, but rather a long game that offers lot of little rewards along the way. Facebook isn’t going away anytime soon. The future of your brand and the growth of your business are worth the investment of time and energy. With a little planning and a steady supply of quality content, your business can have a vibrant, engaging Facebook presence your customers will love. 

Further Reading.

For more on the most recent set of changes Facebook made to improve UX, check out Mashable’s list of  Facebook’s Spring 2014 changes and tweaks. Techcrunch also offers an in-depth look at what shows up in your Facebook News Feed and why.

And don’t forget to check out our Saturday Reads of the Week blog posts for more of the best Internet marketing articles each week.

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