January 31, 2011

Ultimate guide to marketing on Facebook

brand ambassador

 

A step-by-step social media marketing strategy to promote your business

Note: Below is a detailed guide to help your company perform better on Facebook. Socialmedia.biz can help you with creating or optimizing your business’s Facebook presence.

Guest post by Tim Soulo
SEOmoz

Here’s a step-by-step social media marketing strategy for promoting your business on Facebook. I’ve gathered all the best practices and tips that I have used myself, together with some tactics that I haven’t tried but am confident will work well.

First steps: Designate a brand ambassador

First of all, don’t use your personal account to promote your business, unless you want your customers to see your childhood pictures and lulz from the recent party. You can create another purely business-oriented instance of yourself or hire someone to become your brand ambassador. This will be the person who represents your business on the Web and handles all online communications, so the info on the profile should be brief and clear and all the pictures neat and professional. Remember that users will associate your business with this person.

Power tip: Create a separate email account in Gmail and import all the e-mail addresses of your clients there. Now when you use this account to create a new Facebook profile, the system will automatically find all of your clients in your address book and suggest to add them as your friends on Facebook. What a great start!

Create your Facebook Page

Promotion on Facebook is all about having a Page for your business. To create one, go to http://www.facebook.com/Pages/ and click the “+ Create Page” button.

Power tip: “Page name” is one of the the strongest ranking factors in a Facebook search. Don’t miss the opportunity to add some keywords you want to rank for as you can’t change the name of your Page later.

Configure your Facebook Page

Step 1. Profile picture & avatar

custom picture facebook

The profile picture is one of the few things in the design of your Page that you can actually customize, so be sure to make the most of it. Here are two great articles that will help you:

5 Creative Ways to Hack Your Profile Photo
Making the Most of Your Facebook Profile Picture

Step 2. Page info

The next important thing to do is fill your Facebook Page with information about your business. Most of it is stored under the “Info” tab, which you cannot remove or hide. Lots of people visit it, so work hard to make your info as brief and engaging as you can. “Think SEO” and use your keywords, as each of the tabs is indexable by Google and the other search engines.

Power tip: if you type a URL starting with http:// in the info box under your profile picture, Facebook will turn it into a clickable link. So you can easily refer your visitors to your website, blog or Twitter account.

Step 3. Applications

facebook page apps

Here are some applications to consider:

  • Static FBML (Facebook Markup Language) – allows you to create 10 additional tabs, which can contain HTML/CSS, Flash, FBML, iframes and FBJS;
  • NetworkedBlogs – allows you to post your RSS and Atom feeds directly to your wall;
  • Twitter Tab – posts your Twitter updates to a separate tab;
  • Extended Info – adds an additional box that supports html/fbml, images, video and music to the left sidebar of your Page;
  • Fan Appz & Promotions – these two apps help you handle all kinds of contests, sweepstakes & giveaways.

Power tip: You’ll probably end up with lots of tabs by adding various applications. However, you can easily drag them around to prioritize them.

Step 4. Custom URL

To be able to convert your ugly “326727833086?ref=sgm&ajaxpipe=1&__a=7” URL into something fancy-looking, like “http://facebook.com/mybusinessPage,” you need to have at least 25 fans. Once you do – go to http://www.facebook.com/username/, click the “Set a username for your Pages” link and follow the instructions.

Step 5. Custom landing Page

porsche custom page

You need an attractive landing Page, which will convert your visitors into fans. Here is when the FBML application comes into play. Using HTML, CSS, FBJS (Facebook Javascript) and even Flash, you can create awesome landing Pages that people will not only “like” but link to and suggest to friends.

Power tip: If you’re short on development skills, you can find some nice Facebook FBML Page templates that have just started to appear around the template stores.

What to expect from your efforts

To have your message spread on Twitter, you need to have your followers retweet your post so that their followers could see it and retweet in turn. On Facebook, the principle is a bit more sophisticated: When someone likes or comments on your status update, this fact is being reflected in his or her profile. And when your status update gets a decent amount of “likes” and comments, it is promoted to the Top News section of a user’s News Feed, so that more people can see it.

Now let’s refer to the well-known 90:9:1 Social Behaviors Rule to understand what it takes for your message to become visible.

90 9 1 pyramid

Let’s consider that “Heavy Contributors” are those ready to comment on your update, “Intermittent” ones will probably “like” it and “Lurkers” will read it or just scroll through. Say your Page has 100 fans. Knowing the fact that only 12%-20% of all your “Fans” will see your status update in their Top News feed, we can see that:

100 fans facebook

I hope this delivers a clear understanding that Facebook promotion takes an enormous amount of effort to become successful.

Promote your Facebook Page internally

Step 1. Use your brand ambassador
  • Add to friends any people that may be your potential customers or somehow relate to your business. Last year Facebook added Skype integration, which can offer you suggestions on some Facebook friends from the list of your Skype contacts. Once you have a decent amount of friends, use the “Suggest to friends” and “Share” buttons to promote your Facebook Page to them.
  • Use Facebook Search to discover relevant Pages, groups, events, people and even messages. With Search you can easily track any mentions of your brand and provide feedback – people really love that.
  • Once you join Pages, groups and events, you are able to participate in the conversation, which is a great way of direct promotion. Moreover, you can see the list of the group members and easily add them to friends.
  • Communicate. Once someone comments on your new status, a photo, or anything else – answer back. You need to make people love your brand and become active contributors and then brand ambassadors. One-quarter of search results on each big brand is UGC (User Generated Content).

Power tip: When composing a message, type the @ symbol and start typing the name of your business Page to mention it, just like you mention someone on Twitter. This can be used as a signature to your updates. The @ symbol tags your brand, making it especially valuable if someone shares your status update.

Step 2. Keep the Page fresh and interesting

People join your Page hoping to receive some interesting stuff from you, so don’t disappoint them. Facebookers usually prefer pictures, videos and links to plain text updates. Here is a comprehensive list of things that you should keep in mind to avoid losing your fans: don’t post too many updates; don’t automate your content; don’t be a duplicate of your website, and don’t be boring. Your Page wall is your social proof and a signal for people to get involved.

Step 3. Cheat a bit

Ask fellow staff & your team members to post “likes” and comments on each of your status updates to boost its rankings. Only status updates with 5 or more “likes” and comments show up in the Top News section. This will also make your wall look “alive”, which will inspire your fans to be more active on your Page and participate in the conversation.

Step 4. Fill in your Page with media content
  • Upload pictures of your products/services, your office and your team at work to make your company easier to relate to.
  • Encourage your fans to post pictures of how they use your product.
  • Upload pictures from each event you host and tag your fans there.
  • Post videos of your team members talks.
  • Show your products/services in action.
  • Use video to respond to your fans (Bill Clinton frequently does video responses on his Page.)
Step 5. Treat your fans

You need to offer your fans something special and reward them. For instance, the 1-800-FLOWER Facebook Page shows a discount code only when you click the “Like” button.

You can make some special offers, which are available to your Facebook fans only and are not announced outside of Facebook. It’s dead easy to reward your loyal fans by promoting them to the admins of your Page, which may turn them into enthusiastic brand ambassadors. If there is a prominent fan, he should be publicly rewarded.

Step 6. Send an update to fans

Direct messaging is a powerful tool, but don’t misuse it. Think twice before sending a message to all of your fans. It should be valuable or relevant if you don’t want everyone to ignore it or get irritated.

Power tip: Facebook allows you to send targeted updates to certain demographics or segments of your fan base. Think of a way you could use that feature for your business.

Step 7. Ask your fans for help

Now and then you can post a status update asking your fans to help build the community by suggesting your Page to their friends. Just refer them to “Suggest to Friends” and “Share” links on your Page and measure their response.

Step 8. Build partnerships with other Pages

partnership

Notice that each Page on Facebook has an “Add to my Page’s Favorites” button. When you do this, the logo of this Page appears in a special “Favorite Pages” box on your own Page. People see it and they might click the link to find out more about this Page.

Your aim here is to build partnerships within your niche and be “favorited” as much as possible. Add to favorites the Pages that you like or that your business is related to and inform their owners about it with a wall post or a private message. Most likely you will be “favorited” back.

Step 9. Use the applications

There are a lot of crazy apps that you can use to promote yourself. You can even develop one of your own if your budget allows that. But how do the viral applications work in common?

You need something that people would willingly launch. This might be a game or a quiz or any other kind of dynamic content that most people love. Once a person has his score, badge, virtual gift or any other result, the application publishes it to his wall so that all his friends can see it. The application should have a clear call to action so that new people can easily get engaged. If the application has some kind of a high score, people will play it again and again till they outrank their friends. You can use the apps for sweepstakes and giveaways – people love them a lot.

Step 10. Spy!

Always keep an eye on your competitors, especially on those outranking you. Check what they do and if you consider it to be a successful strategy, do the same. When they misstep, try to avoid their mistakes. Always keep on top of what others are doing to promote themselves.

Step 11. Consider the pros and cons of advertising

Ads are the most common way to promote your Page. But before you use it, check out these stats:

facebook ads

Promote your Facebook Page externally

Step 1. Connect Facebook to your website

Like Mashable

The Facebook team has come a long way toward making your website more personalized and social. There is a list of great social plug-ins that can be easily embedded into your website and drive lots of new visitors: The “Like Button” plug-in, which is almost everywhere now, “Like Box,” which lets you become a fan of the website without leaving the Page, “Live Stream,” which is often used while broadcasting some event. Try them on your website and see what happens next.

Step 2. Use the “Like” and “Share” buttons

These two are so powerful that they require a separate call-out. Once you own an online store, those buttons are of exceptional value. Whenever you find something that appeals to you in an online store, you no longer need to copy the URL and send it to your friends to ask for their opinion. Just press the “Like” button. They will see that and comment on it. This applies to photos, videos, games, blog posts, reviews – literally anything that can be found on the Web, as long as your friends are on Facebook.

Step 3. Put a link everywhere

Once you have a website, you put its address everywhere – e-mail signatures, forum signatures, Twitter info, author bio section, LinkedIn profile, links section of your blog. Do exactly the same with your Facebook Page. Highlight your Facebook presence at offline events, print it on your business card, use every opportunity you have.

Power tip: Take some Twitter auto follow script that follows a person whenever he has specific keywords in his tweet. Some percent of the people you’ve followed will follow you back. Write an engaging request to join your Facebook Page and set it as an automatic direct message to people, who have just followed you. Once launched, this system will drive some new fans to your Facebook Page on a regular basis.

Step 4. Use video smartly

Almost every video sharing service now allows you to annotate your videos with links. This is a great way to drive some new fans to your Facebook Page. You can make viral videos, funny videos, tutorials, explanations, presentations etc. and include a link to your Facebook Page with a request to join. Works great!

Step 5. Consider other services

There are a lot of websites where you can get some targeted audience. For instance, upon writing this guide I’ve gone though dozens of presentations at SlideShare and Scribd. I’ve seen many referrals to join Facebook Pages specialized on marketing, and I did join some of them as I enjoyed their presentations. Examine carefully all the websites where you post information or showcase your services and think of the way you could refer people to your Facebook Page.

Power tip: In case you have some kind of a digital product, create a torrent with some demos, name it with trending keywords and upload to all torrent trackers you can find. In the info or in the comments section, add a link to your Facebook Page. Then go to your analytics and watch your numbers grow.

That’s the end of our guide. I’m sure each of you can think of lots of fantastic ways to use Facebook for social media marketing. Please share in the comments!

This post orig­i­nally appeared at SEO­moz and is repub­lished with per­mis­sion. The author’s views are entirely his own and may not reflect the views of SEO­moz, Inc. SEO­moz is not affil­i­ated with Socialmedia.biz and has not reviewed this trans­la­tion. SEO­moz pro­vides the Web’s best SEO tools and resources.
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  • cory

    Great article! Super informative and a lot of great tips that I've seen work from past experience, as well as lots of new strategies – which I love, thank you!

    I especially liked step 9, “use the applications”. The firm I work for is currently looking to develop a fb branding design app. We think this one is pretty cool: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mindflash-Advertisi

    but we're planning to do something that elaborates more on the actual quiz part. What would you say is an adequate budget to produce something similar to the above app?

    Again, great article. Can't wait to see what you write next. Thanks!

  • Great advice covering a lot of territory here. I agree with it all minus the bit about setting up automated-DMs on Twitter. Twitter is a wonderful, lightweight way to connect when someone is just getting to know us. Directing them immediately to our Facebook page feels premature, plus I've found that many people unfollow accounts which send auto-DMs (myself included). That said, these are some very useful tips for anyone setting up a new Facebook page.