Facebook Strategy 101

There’s a lot of talk online about the strategy behind brands using social media outlets, but not a lot of leadership.

In fact, many of the companies who are charging the earth for social strategy don’t seem to have that great of a strategy themselves – you know, the smoke and mirrors types.

If you don’t have the basics right, throwing money at marketing and promotion is not going to help you a hell of a lot.

A social media strategy must be bespoke to the brand. It has to take into account the time and money available, the rules of the platforms, best practice, and local culture. It must also fit into an over-arching marketing strategy that’s not just about social.

Brands hoping to pick up an overseas stategy and impliment it into a new culture may find themselves in trouble, just as a brand who flaunts a “she’ll be right” attitude would.

So lets focus on Facebook. As a person who oversees around 130 Facebook pages with members ranging in size from the hundreds to the hundreds of thousands, there’s some basic points I’ve found will help you get it right.

Know your brand, and know what you want from the platform. Are you on Facebook to build brand awareness? Gain insights into your fans? Crowd source? Get hits to your website? Make sales? Without these very basic questions answered – and weighted – you’ll be directionless.

Focus on user engagement, not “like” numbers. Facebook provide brilliant insights. Use them to see your engagement levels, reach, and who your audience actually is. The better your engagment, the “stickier” your updates will be – meaning more people will see them. It’s pretty easy to look at a page with 10,000 fans and be envious, but is anyone actually reading and interacting with status updates? If you’re not getting any likes, wall posts, click throughs or feedback, you’re in trouble.

Keep your hide rate low, and find out why users are hiding your feed. This comes back to using Facebook insights well. If you lost a large number of subscribers one day, follow that day back on your feed. Did you update too often? Were you abrasive or overly advertorial? Once a subscriber hides your feed, it’s hard to win them back. Stay on top of your hide – and unlike – rates.

Keep tabs on what works for your subscribers. Do they ‘like’ pictures or links? Do images of faces work better than logos? At what time of day is posting most effective? Find out what works with your audience, and deliver. Track click throughs and adjust your updates according to which times, words, and link types work best with your audience.

Landing pages explicitly encouraging viewers to “like” your page. It works and it’s worth the time investment to make it happen. Add an extra like button at the bottom, especially if your landing page is long. Keep an eye on which pages are being hit. If you’re getting thousands to your landing page and few on your wall, fix your landing page.

You have a spam filter. Use it wisely. Same goes for tagging users from your status update, and writing on walls as your brand. Tread very, very carefully. Train your audience in acceptable ways to interact with your brand. Set the profanity filter if necessary.

Tips for status updates:

  • Keep them brief, and don’t update too often!
  • Listen to what your audience is talking about, and use their subjects, phrases and trends as appropriate.
  • Users are seeing the update amongst their friend’s updates, so it is easy to appear advertorial. Keep this in mind when posting a status or link.
  • Think community building first, promotion second.
  • Give subscribers a reason to interact with your update. The more they interact, the better you rank in their algorhythm, and the higher you’ll appear in their sticky feed.

Naturally there are a truckload of things you learn with experience. But you can fast-track your knowledge by correctly using Facebook insights and by paying attention to what works for your audience. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and once you’re familiar with what works, and have a happy wee community, invest some serious money in a campaign or Facebook ads.

Also – and I can’t say this enough – read Facebook’s Terms and Conditions, especially around running competitions, and what is and isn’t acceptable conduct on the Facebook platform.

Even with these few tips and tricks, I think you’ll be able to make some impact with your brands on Facebook. I’d love to hear your insights, please share what’s worked – or not worked – for you.

Facebook Insights Explained

I have always said using Facebook successfully is not about the size of your community – anyone can pay for Facebook ads and rent a crowd – but it is first and foremost about engaging your community and providing a platform for conversations.

Facebook insights are a really valuable tool, and if you’re ignoring them, you may as well be ignoring your community.

To access insights, you must have a branded page on Facebook – not a profile. You shouldn’t use your brand as a profile for several reasons: It limits you to 5,000 connections, people think it’s naff, it is against Facebook’s terms and conditions, and most importantly, you can’t access the insights unless you have a branded page.

Facebook insights can be broken down into three areas: Those attached to a post, those attached to a page, and those attached to a website.

Post Insights

Insights attached to a post are useful for seeing what kind of post gets the most interaction

You can use this information to gauge which posts work with your audience – although it won’t tell you if they were interacting positively or negatively. Still, it’s useful for noticing trends.

Impressions are how many times your update has been viewed – much like a PI for web. Feedback is a like or comment as a percentage of impressions.

The higher the engagement, the higher you’ll feature on users home feed – both because of the user’s algorithm for interaction, and because you’ve got a highly engaged post. This may also impact a Facebook-based social search in the future, so getting it right now will save you playing catch-up later.

You can also see the 10 most popular updates in your page insights.

Page Insights

You can find page insights from either the insights dashboard on your page (click “edit page” and then “insights”) or from Facebook.com/insights.

There is a lot of information on page insights, and it’s broken down into three parts: A general overview, user demographics, and interaction insights.

General overview: The key here is that you want the graphs trending up. If they are continually tracking down, or never had a heartbeat in the first place, fix whatever is broken.
User demo: Know your users. Who ‘likes’ you? How did they find your page? Why did they ‘unlike’ your page? Adjust your updates accordingly.
Interaction insights: This is where you can see (amongst other things) users hiding your feed – a key place to start for working out if you’re posting too much, too often, or posting information your community doesn’t want to see.

Website Insights

If you haven’t done it already, hook your website up to Facebook via Facebook.com/insights.

Click “Insights for your website”, select the brand page you’re linking the site to, and you get meta tag code to pop into your root webpage to confirm you have the rights. Once you’ve inserted the meta tag, head back to insights to confirm ownership.

This opens up a world of information. From this dashboard you can see who is sharing links to your site – either by clicking like buttons, using social plug-ins, or organically.

You can also find out how many clicks back to your site you’ve gotten. This can be helpful for seeing if the link displayed upon a share is doing you any favours. A low score here can mean you may need to work on how the link feeds through.

You can also pull demographics for impressions against like buttons – something previously difficult for small business to track. This can give you a good picture of who is using your site. Having said that, it’s a skewed snapshot – it only captures logged in Facebook users, and that may not be a large proportion of your website users.

There are so many insights available using this function, and with such an expansive flow-on for how you implement Facebook social plug-ins on your website that I can’t go into it all. But I recommend spending some quality time going through the web insights and seeing how your site is stacking up.

Questions have been raised about how Facebook’s insights work with Google analytics. I haven’t tracked anything back yet but it makes sense that any page containing GA that is iframed into a Facebook tab would be trackable. Having said that, putting a ?ref=fbcode (where fbcode is a bespoke code you’ve created for this) on any links in the iframed page would be trackable on GA so long as the destination URL has the analytics loaded. Has anyone had a play with this yet and can give a definitive answer? May have to take it to Quora.

Phew! That’s a lot of information right there, but hopefully you find it useful. Please leave a comment with your insight tips and tricks – I’m sure we’d all love to hear them.