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Winning or Losing With Facebook

Winning or Losing With FacebookFacebook has been winning in traffic and new users for almost a decade now and things have been changing steadily as the platform has grown. Every website matures eventually and we continue seeing progress from the types of content you see in your Newsfeed to how a page benefits a business. Some critics will say that Facebook hasn’t been good to them for a plethora of reasons, however, it’s the ability to adapt to change that brings success. The bigger question though is whether or not the level of commitment is worth the results from managing a Facebook page.

Personally, it’s easy to walk away from Facebook in my marketing strategy because I am only one person. I have to pick my battles and ensure my efforts are not wasted. I do continue to lightly use some of the Facebook features in my marketing strategy, but I can tell you that the efforts are very minimal. I should note that this is something that I accept and realize I will reap what I sow. Again, we all have to take the measurement of our resources and produce results accordingly. By that I mean an agency can afford to be on more platforms and doing more than a 1-man show like myself could ever dream of. Eventually that will change, but for now I am still a grassroots type of individual.

I want to pull apart Facebook a bit and discuss the main areas that we engage with each day. Those areas are Pages, Groups, and Ads. I won’t discuss the personal profiles since marketing really shouldn’t be done on a bigger scale inside a profile. It is also against the ToS to use profiles as a business or organization and something I don’t recommend especially with a 5,000 friend limit and a high-risk of being banned.

Facebook Pages

Small business was brought into the Facebook ecosystem by a carrot on a string. They became social and plastered their URL’s everywhere. The news stations, small businesses, and organizations always included it in their advertising and embedded into their content for us to scurry over and like their pages. It was the ultimate marketing win for Facebook and businesses poured in over the years making it ubiquitous in a marketing strategy.

Then Facebook asked for money through its advertising platform just to be seen more. The rage that people exuded all over the internet about extortion and the nerve of Facebook to trick us into their scheme was abundant. Some wrote goodbye letters, and some just said okay and handed over money.

It destroyed a trust between those page owners and Facebook as pages got seen less and less in people’s newsfeeds. Then Facebook started asking for even more money to boosts posts. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing as Facebook has every right to collect money for their service. Many didn’t take kindly to this and you can find pages that haven’t been updated in months or even years as they left for other ways to market themselves. Others adapted and understood where Facebook was going with this.

As the platform matured, Facebook only wanted to promote better content to keep people on the site longer. Why should a page with little value get placement over a page with a LOT of value? This is what so many hated because they continue to not understand how to create value. Engaging posts are difficult to construct but Facebook understands that a power user might look at 1,500 posts per day and a casual one only 300. Where do you cram all the content someone has liked?

I went through all of that to get to my point. If you are going to continue to utilize Facebook pages, you will have to focus on quality and not quantity. You also have to focus on speaking the language which these days are very visual in nature. Facebook is driving more towards great images and now video. Can you play in this realm? Most cannot.

Let’s go through a list of what you can do and not do with a Facebook page.

  • You can use Facebook as your page and interact with other pages, but you cannot use groups while logged in as a page.
  • You can reply to a specific comment using the new reply button. I would still mention the person by typing their name in your reply though to make it more personal.
  • You can like and comment on other pages in their posts. This is a great way to get seen on busier pages, but do not SPAM under any circumstances. This means no self-promoting.
  • You can create wonderful content for your page and boost a post that has the potential to go viral if you want to spend some money getting seen.
  • You can fill in all of your information and dress out your page with a profile pic and a cover photo. You are still limited to an image with no more than 20% of text for your cover.
  • You can pin posts that are important to the top of your page.
  • Call to action buttons like “Signup” are being added to the cover area that link to a registration page on your site. This is a great addition that can attract more visits from Facebook.

I think I covered all the major points of a page. One of the bigger features of a page is the ability to login as the page and browse Facebook and find pages that similar to your page and like them. Liking them isn’t really the big deal. The major incentive is engaging on other page’s posts and even with their users that leave comments that don’t know about your page. I do this often with my pages and sometimes there is some mega rewards with new fans and engagement. Being able to continue doing this can grow your page over time and win you those free conversions that was once had with very little effort. The currency is time in this case and figuring out how much of it you can spend doing this.

Let’s talk SPAM for a moment as well. I run into more and more people who think that their posts are noble and they are allowed to post on your page or group. That is not the case. I add this here because you might think that your page is noble and might self-promote on another page. This is SPAM and your post will be reported and you risk being banned. Don’t do this unless you want to end your marketing career quickly on Facebook.

Pages have to pay to play these days and it can be heartbreaking for many. For those that choose to continue on and create content that people want and do it often, they will reap benefits. It was once guessed that a post with just an image and a sentence or less of text would be seen by the most people who liked your page. Just text would be the least seen. Add a link to off-Facebook and it will be lucky to see the light of day. Knowing how to construct the right piece of content is almost a science and one you have to experiment with.

Content on pages are seen less with each tweak of Facebook’s algorithm, but there is hope. Continuing to post original and unique content that is shareable will help keep the page alive. If you have money to burn, you may choose to amplify the benefits of a good post by throwing money on the boost. I don’t do this, but many pages have reported some success at a high price tag.

Facebook Groups

Let’s switch gears again and talk about Facebook Groups. This feature is awesome in my opinion and the reason I have 20 groups. For example, I have a military-themed website/community I run outside of the Facebook hemisphere. To help get people to it I started a couple military-themed groups. A couple groups have reached over 6,000 members and what I love about this is that all members are notified when there are new posts. I consistently add new content that creates engagement as well which helps the groups grow quickly as they are liked, shared, and commented on.

Conversion rates from Facebook to your site may vary by niche, but my niche happens to be terrible for this type of conversion and that’s okay. Not every platform is great for every niche.

What some people do in a group is immediately flood it with self-promotion. You have to be able to filter those who actually want to contribute to your group vesus those that want to take advantage of it. I ban at least 10 members per month in each group because they self-promote/SPAM my groups. I try to give them a private warning and steer them in the right direction but most will ignore it and treat my actions poorly. You have to go in knowing this will happen on a regular basis.

This is where your judgement has to be solid. You have to establish rules for everyone to abide by to include yourself otherwise chaos will ensue. I can get 20-30% of my group to at least look at my posts. I could never reach those stats with a page, but groups take patience before you see wins. You have to play the long game. If you are worn down by the reduction that pages have in conversions then you might consider starting a group and work on that instead.

In groups, only personal profiles can join and engage. This keeps pages out of the loop. That aside, groups still call for great content. Garbage content usually goes unliked and ignored by your user base. I always remove anything that hasn’t been engaged with in 8-12 hours from the group. It’s a clear sign that it’s not interesting. You must do this as well otherwise you will lose members and engagement. This type of management is no different than running a forum or an event in real life. You have to try to make sure the majority of people are happy.

I will end this section by stating that I firmly believe that Facebook groups are the most productive piece to a marketing strategy when compared to effort that equals results. It would take so much more effort running a page for the same results that a group would consume with a much lower cost in investment of my time. Of course, your mileage may vary.

Facebook Ads

Lastly, I want to hit advertising on Facebook. I have done this in the past and I do not run million-dollar accounts with Facebook ads, but I understand the mechanics behind this function. The ad side has taken a lot of heat over the last year or two for fake likes. People have called it a scam, and others have called it a huge boost in their presence. I don’t believe it has been decided what is what so I am going to write this from the perspective that the ad platform is good.

I participated in buying ads from 2013-2014. I ran multiple ads everyday for almost a year trying different combinations of text and ads. I targeted broad and specific demographics. Ultimately, I succeeded in boosting 12 pages and many conversions to my websites during this period. My largest page ended up with 35,000 likes and lots of engagement. Even with Facebook removing fake accounts last year I still stayed at 33,000 likes. The ads helped me in almost every account.

If you are considering using Facebook ads as part of your marketing plan then I would highly suggest you watch a lot of YouTube videos that discuss the system and as many articles that you can learn from. Experts are constantly learning new ways to leverage the platform to their benefit and I don’t currently use it. I would be making stuff up if I tried telling you what works today and I have no intention of damaging the little credibility I have built up to this point.

It is fair to at least discuss what worked for me during my time purchasing ad space. I tried to use a bright image that caught the eye, text that actually meant something to someone, and a call to action that created results. It is very important that you run multiple versions of an ad so you can tweak it and find out which one converts the best. A good ad manager is always looking at the data to see what works and will continue creating new versions. The testing cycle continues to repeat itself from there. I was creating 5-10 new variations each day and trying new demographics to find out where I was strong or weak. You will have to commit like this if you choose to utilize the Facebook ad platform.

Another word of advice is to think outside of the box when choosing the demographic you are after. For instance, I was running ads for a political site and I wanted more Republicans so we could have more engagement. I ran a bikini image with the American flag. It caught the attention of males in the 35-50 age group in Texas, that affiliated themselves with the Republican party. I knew that Texas was highly red, that men can’t resist a good bikini image, and the chance to talk politics can be like cheese in the mouse trap for some.

I played around with different methods and found certain approaches better than others. Sometimes when you are honing your ads you have to consider and include stereotypes with other “less than politically correct” thoughts in your plan. While it’s not good form in public, it does play a part in marketing. Just like the statement “sex sells”, there is a whole lot of truth to some of things we hear. That’s the harsh reality and if you only play it safe you will not achieve the best results.

I will add one last thing to this. Sometimes making mistakes can help. This part doesn’t really have much to do with Facebook ads, but you have to consider that making a public mistake that you would have to apologize for can give you free press or get people talking about your business. Whether it’s a spelling mistake, or an insensitive remark about a group of people, you can bet that many big players are using emotion to cause more attention. You shouldn’t leave this on the table if you can’t think of another way to get seen.

Negative Impacts of Facebook Changes

I want to address an issue that is hurting real creators right now. Facebook is becoming what YouTube was in their infancy. It is becoming a pirate haven with no regard to copyright. I watch many of the talented YouTube creators lose out on revenue and credit as people take those videos and repost them on YouTube.

One video I can think of off the top of my head was the Filipino reaction to Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda music video. This video belonged to the Miss Mae channel and was reposted on a Filipino Fanpage on Facebook. It was seen hundreds of thousands of times without credit or revenue shared with her. She may have lost out on tons of new subscribers and revenue that Facebook posted ads against her video.

These issues are going to haunt Facebook as lawsuits flood in unless they react very quickly. The DCMA process is too slow to catch something that is going viral. Even if it is caught quickly, Facebook continues to keep the revenue that the creators should gotten. It’s going to be messy if gut is right. Miss Mae is just one in a sea of talented creators on YouTube. Facebook video right now is wrong and I truly hope it corrects these issues and compensate the creators in full.

I decided to add this in because some folks may be tempted to try Facebook video and I hope that you will not take this route just to win on the platform. Use original content and go for the win!

My Wrap-Up

Facebook is still very valuable to a marketer and can easily be used to gain to conversations or spread awareness. You just have to have a solid plan to work through each area of the social network. Your content has to be original, even if most posts really aren’t original. You have to be consistent and work through engagement as best as you can. Reply to anyone who comments or sends a message and let people know you are there!

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