Believe it or not, running a popular Facebook page for a business or organization is exceptionally easy. Once the momentum is going, the key is to stay interesting, respond quickly, and develop the subtleties such as timing and audience that make a Facebook page hum. These are not hard activities and anyone with experience or guidance can excel at it.
Taking a page from nil to winner is the tough part. It’s like getting traction when you’re stuck in the mud and it’s still raining. That’s Facebook, 2012, because there are already so many developed pages that are drawing in people’s attention. Thankfully, there are two strategies that tend to work well, but both are much more challenging than maintaining a strong page.
Activity, Interest, and Perseverance
With the right effort and a willingness to claw, bite, pull hair, and laugh at yourself, a business page (particularly a localized one) can develop momentum and build a strong page by simply doing. It’s easy in theory and hard in practice.
Above, you’ll see the recent stats for a page that we recently took over for a client. They were a local business with a few hundred likes that came in naturally (rather through buying or other nefarious methods), so the base was there but the engagement was not. In this situation, the key was to focus on building momentum similar to driving a manual transmission.
The biggest mistake that most businesses make is that they try to get their car started while in 5th gear. They blast out updates left and right. They talk about themselves, their specials, their messages. They do all of these things and wonder why nobody is responding and why they’re not growing. They have no momentum. They have to start in a lower gear.
In the case above, we at least had a good rolling start, so we shifted to second gear. We started posting locally on their newspaper’s page, sharing content with a local flavor and doing it at a pace that didn’t overwhelm anyone – 2-4 posts a day. We responded to people who made comments (something that wasn’t happening consistently before) and pushed for stronger, more sharable content when it wasn’t local.
Now that there’s some momentum, we’ll move on to “in store” promotions. Customers are the best potential fans for a page. It’s that simple. Those who walk into the store can be engaged with and asked to like the page. The challenge is getting the staff to open up about it and talk about it. To do this, they have to get excited. They need a reason to do so. We started running a movie ticket campaign on both their website and locally at the store. I’ll report on the results when they are in.
Pay for it
The other technique is proving to be exceptionally effective, more so than we would have expected. With a small ad budget hypertargeting just the locals, we started running Facebook ads. The exposure is there, much higher than it would have been organically. The budget can be very low simply because the page is still very small. Over time, the budget will have to go up to maintain, but hopefully by that time we’ll be able to switch to organic-only methods.
As can be seen in the above image, we ran a paid campaign to the movie ticket promotion. Organic is, of course, the current fans who are seeing the update in their timeline. The viral piece is the number of friends of fans who see it, and the paid is the campaign itself. The numbers might be much higher, but they can be misleading. They represent the number of people who were exposed to the update, but sponsored updates are much-less likely to get clicked than organic ones, which are a little more likely to be clicked than the viral ones.
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Both strategies are sustainable but require an investment of time for the first one and money for the second. Facebook is important enough to make the investment, but the returns level off. In other words, spending twice the time or double the money will not necessarily double the effectiveness. Find the highest ROI point somewhere in the middle and you’ll maximize the effectiveness of the overall marketing effort.