Dan Levy is Facebook’s Director of Small Business, and he’s become quite influential among those small businesses who strive to be on the cutting edge of search and marketing.
Levy was one of several speakers during the Facebook Fit event, a five-city tour of small businesses and entrepreneurs across the country. Facebook hosted the event in order to raise awareness on the current state of marketing on social media and how small businesses can use the platform to beneficial results.
This comes hot on the tail of several changes Facebook has made, all of which decrease the amount of organic reach available to businesses. While skeptics claim Facebook is heavily curating the user experience in order to encourage promoted posts and ads, Facebook speaks to the contrary. They claim only to be filtering for the best, most useful results, which users are most likely to see. According to their algorithm, any message a user doesn’t see is a message that user is unlikely to respond to, given a past history of not responding to similar messages.
Nevertheless, Levy and other Facebook speakers cite examples of businesses using highly targeted Facebook ads for a high return on investment – one plumbing firm in Kansas City bringing in a 39x return, for example. The message is clear; if you want users to see and engage with your content organically, your content needs to be exceptional.
Content on Facebook
Levy, of course, is primarily concerned with how businesses use Facebook. Content on Facebook is just as important as it is elsewhere. If you want users to like your posts, share them with their friends or click through to convert, those posts need to be high quality.
Content on Facebook is generally best when it’s short and visual. This is why Facebook has made several of its recent changes. Website previews generate a large visual snippet. The page layout switched from two columns to one, with wider space for images and videos, along with more space for custom tabs and apps.
There’s also profile content. Having a robust, fully fleshed out profile is essential to any kind of success on Facebook. Many users, when they consider following a page, check the profile to make sure it’s actually representing the business it claims to represent. Official links and a customized description are virtually required, as small businesses only rarely receive official verification.
Content in Ads
A big part of the Facebook Fit talks was how paid ads are so useful, when used properly. Yes, organic reach is down, and as Facebook says, it’s to enforce certain quality standards for businesses. Paid ads are one way to circumvent that, but they’re also a powerful tool for businesses that are already successful without them.
Ad content is expensive when done poorly. Ads need three things to be successful; a compelling landing post, a compelling snippet of text and image, and a deep target. The landing post and the ad content itself are both just that; content. Quality, compelling content is all but required for both to have a successful ad.
Of course, targeting is incredibly important. One of the biggest surprises for small businesses at Facebook Fit was the concept of the Audience Network. Despite being pushed by Facebook and being common knowledge among hardcore advertisers, it was still a surprising hidden feature to many small businesses. Properly using the Audience Network for demographics, analytics and targeting can make a huge difference.
One thing Facebook is working on in the future is making it just as easy to use a business page as it is a personal profile. In particular, mobile integration is in the works. One tool is the enhanced mobile Ads Manager, which makes it easy to develop and post ads on the go. See a scene that would fit perfectly with an ad? Snap a picture with your mobile phone, plug in some compelling ad copy and send the ad off to run.
Content on Websites
Of course, content on your website is far more important than content on Facebook. Facebook affirming that content is king is just reaffirming what Google has been saying for years. You need quality content on your website if you want to have any hope of expanding your audience, increasing your conversions, building trust or ranking in search results. How can you work to create effective, compelling content both on and off Facebook?
1. Know your audience. Facebook’s audience network helps a lot with this, as does Google Analytics. Learn their demographics. Learn their likes. Learn what they don’t like and what they need out of a business. Create personas, idealized customers that think and act the way your real customers act, and use those personas to create customized content. Further, use those personas to target ads using that content.
2. Avoid promotion. On both your website and your Facebook page, promotional language is a turn-off. The only acceptable places for promotional language are in ad copy and on specific sales-oriented landing pages. Keep it out of your blog, keep it out of your Facebook posts and keep it out of your profile descriptions.
3. Be helpful. Listen to your audience. They have problems; every group of people does. Look for their problems and figure out how you can solve them. In some cases, this means creating a new product. In others, it means researching a topic and putting together a useful tutorial. Every blog post should start with a question; how does this help your readers? Provide tips they can actually use.
4. Catch attention. Headlines, snippets, meta descriptions, Facebook posts and email subject lines all have one thing in common; they’re short, often single-sentence opportunities to catch attention. You need to do everything in your power to catch as much attention in as little space as possible, over and over again.
5. Use visuals. Images draw the eye; that’s why Facebook ads integrate images, why profiles have huge cover photos and why links generate visual previews. Customize the visuals you use every way you can. When you post a picture on Facebook, customize the description. When you share a link, customize the preview image. When you write a blog post, include compelling images that accentuate your points.
6. Structure properly. Particularly for blog posts, use short paragraphs with short, simple sentences. Make links stand out. Use bold and subheadings frequently. Use numbered and bulleted lists to break up content. The easier it is to skim and pull value, the more valuable your content is perceived to be.
With compelling content to build off, the world is yours to command. Your audience will grow, your conversions will increase and your business will thrive.