Starting back in the day with CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the power of Facebook’s reach is now undeniable, and savvy organisations and marketers use this to their benefit to increase brand awareness through social media marketing, gain consumer loyalty, and drive product sales. No longer just a social tool for sharing vacation photos or family news, Facebook is a major player in influencing e-commerce.
Studying the ins and outs of how Facebook reaches your target audience will inform your decisions about using it to promote your products and services. And a key question for many companies focused on social media outreach is whether their goals can be achieved via organic or paid outreach (or perhaps a combination of both).
Organic: Not Just a Farmers Market Buzzword
When it comes to Facebook, your organic reach and frequency is simply the number of people who view your posts without paid distribution. Like with Twitter and Instagram, Facebook is a free social media marketing tool in this sense, but it has become increasingly difficult for businesses to capture the consumer’s attention this way without high-quality content to ensure engagement. Many organisations have adopted paid outreach as the standard and organic outreach is declining; however, paid outreach on Facebook may not be feasible for a smaller company with limited marketing resources and budget. If paid outreach is not a possibility for you in 2018, we’ll give you some ideas for making the most of your organic outreach instead.
Keep Your Followers Engaged!
What will set your posts apart from other organisations and capture the attention of your followers? What will keep them engaged and interested in your content? How can you maximize your chances of being seen by users whose news feeds are flooded with consumer-driven posts?
Start by working smarter, not harder. Fewer posts of quality content will work in your favour more so than over-sharing mediocre content (which will likely result in users clicking the dreaded “unfollow” option. This certainly applies to Instagram as well!) A business that posts too often almost creates a sense of desperation (we ALL know that friend who overshares on Facebook, crying out to the social media world “look at me! Look at me!” to a point that is quite off-putting and sometimes downright annoying). The last thing you want your followers to decide is that your organisation’s marketing department is running on “auto-pilot” with no sense of creativity or insight into its consumer base.
Offer your followers fresh and engaging content that both speaks to your brand’s value AND offers something for the consumer, be it an interesting poll, an informative and entertaining video or simply a humorous post they will be tempted to share with friends. Be mindful of the length of your posts, too. Shorter posts are proven to keep users more engaged, so as a rule of thumb try to keep text to no more than 80 words.
Timing is Everything
Facebook Insights is a powerful tool for companies and one benefit of its use is the ability to see when your fans are logged into the network. Start measuring this activity and use it to guide decisions about when you post content. Savvy marketers study these trends in an effort to share new posts when they are most likely to be seen by the right followers. Additionally, there are tools within Facebook to measure the activity and trends associated with your competitors, which may further influence your own outreach to followers.
Manners Go a Long Way
While this one seems obvious, it cannot be overlooked that an organisation’s marketing department needs to stay on top of customer queries on Facebook at all times. It is imperative to respond to customer comments—both favourable and unfavourable ones—promptly. You want to be seen as a conscientious and customer-focused organisation to continue to increase your brand loyalty. Whether a follower posts a simple question or a rambling rant detailing their unhappiness with your newest product, follow up quickly. Positive customer service gestures (such as offering to refund the unhappy customer) are seen by others viewing your post, and how you react to these scenarios can shape the overall impressions of your business.
Paid Facebook Outreach: In the Face of Your Customers
The power of paid Facebook outreach far surpasses organic outreach, and for businesses, with an abundant (or even somewhat modest) marketing budget it can prove a successful strategy to grow your brand.
However, organic reach cannot be discarded entirely in this strategy: the best marketing campaigns utilize paid outreach while plugging away with a solid and consistent organic approach in the background. The organic outreach affects the overall consumer impression of your brand, while the paid outreach allows you to more directly target your ideal consumer base.
Ads are an integral part of the Facebook news feed, which most people are now viewing on mobile devices. Scrolling through the news feed, a user sees ads that are content-based and fit almost seamlessly into the other posts from family and friends. A user can comment and “like” an ad just as they would a post about their neighbour’s new kitten. Once liked, the ad shows in the news feed of other Facebook friends, broadening the reach of that brand.
Facebook’s advertisement power lies in targeting: the system allows you to target Facebook users in a variety of categories from interests to geographic locations to online activity and behaviours. Looking for new followers who are passionate about rescue animals? Cooking shows? Overseas travel? Jazz? Facebook can help you reach even the most niche markets.
Getting in on the Auction
Facebook runs digital ads in an auction platform, meaning they consider bids from many advertisers. A business might bid as low as a few pounds to place an advertisement in a particular Facebook context, and then Facebook weighs the relevance of the ad to the situation. Both system algorithms and human intervention are at play here, as Facebook employs moderators to review the ads.
This is why there is no direct answer to the question “how much do Facebook ads cost?” The auction system means a number of factors are involved, and regardless of your specific product, you are in competition for that entire market audience. Once you start to achieve a higher click-through rate (meaning your ad is growing in value), Facebook will lower your overall cost. Four options are available for bidding: cost per click (where you pay only when someone clicks your ad), impressions (where you pay for cost per 1,000 impressions), cost per action or conversion (you have optimized for a specific action to be taken but are still paying per impression), and cost per like (which is effective when you are trying to grow the number of likes for your Facebook page).
Once you run an ad campaign on Facebook there are myriad ways to track its success in reaching your target market and the best approach would be to start small and tweak your campaigns as needed. It will take a while to get the hang of the pricing at work in the auction system, and once you better understand which ads work effectively, you may take more risks with your marketing spend.