What is Facebook?
Established in 2004, Facebook is one of the biggest and most prolific social media channels with over 1.71 billion monthly users. (August 2017)
The channel enables individuals to sign up for a personal profile using their real name from which they can post content to their own and their friends’ ‘wall’, interact with other people’s content and privately message friends. These personal profiles typically contain a great deal of personal information.
From a business perspective, Facebook offers a seemingly infinite variety of paid and organic ways to engage with potential customers and business fans. These include:
- Creating a Business Facebook Page to share news and content with business fans
- Managing a Facebook Group to encourage industry players, fans or service users to interact or network (e.g if you own a gym, you can create a closed group for gym members)
- The ability to upload text, image and video content and use URLS to direct content viewers to other websites. In 2016, the site also launched Facebook Live, which allows individuals and businesses the ability to broadcast themselves live to their friends/followers.
- Paid promotional content that you can deliver directly to the new audiences you want to reach through Facebook’s powerful targeting tool. This expands the reach of your activities far beyond people who are already connected to (‘like’) your business
- The ability to interact directly with fans or industry players through Direct Messaging via a personal profile or page.
While Facebook Groups have their function (specifically peer-to-peer networking about an interest or profession), Facebook Pages are typically the best way to give your business its own presence on the platform. Consequently, this is the focus of this blog post.
Facebook’s popularity means it has a huge user base – 78% of all UK adults have an account. While many claim that young people are leaving the platform, the largest demographic is 18-29 year olds, with 92% of those surveyed holding an account. Likewise, 84% of 30-49 year olds, 71% of 50-64 year olds and 64% of 65+ year olds use the platform, which is still very high compared to other channels. Consequently, you are very likely to be able to reach/target your desired demographic through Facebook, making it the best all-rounder platform. (August 2016)
What it does well
- It offers a search-friendly profile of your business – Your Facebook profile can complement your website, offering key information such as contact details, opening times, website details and others. Your profile will also turn up in search engines such as Google, which creates another touchpoint for those searching your brand name. In fact, there are some businesses that do not bother to maintain their own website but simply have a Facebook page instead!
- It connects you with your customers/fans – That ‘Page Like’ button gives you a powerful direct connection with your customers, who have opted in to seeing your updates.
- It acts as a powerful customer service tool – The direct message system works perfectly for private communications between your business and fans.
- You can share your own or other people’s content – Facebook’s Timeline feature feeds content you share on your page to an individual’s Timeline, allowing your fans to get regular updates from you without visiting your Page.
- It encourages engagement – Facebook’s well-known Like and Reactions buttons allow your fans to interact with your content quickly and easily. It is also easy to see comments made by individuals and to track where your content has been shared.
- It’s a good place for image-based content – While Facebook will never be able to compete with dedicated image platforms like Instagram (which they own anyway!) or Pinterest, the platform’s album tool is great for multiple images. These are often very successful at generating greater engagement.
- You can generate analytics – Out of all the social media platforms, Facebook is king in this area. The platform has very powerful in-built analytics that can give you very specific data about content performance and fan demographics. This makes analysing the performance of your Business Page a breeze and will show you exactly what type of person your efforts are attracting.
- You can target specific audiences – Given the glut of information at the platform’s finger tips, Facebook can offer your business the ability to target people by age, interest, education, and a wide range of other topics. This can be used for both paid and organic content.
- You can create calls to action – When it comes to information presentation, Facebook offers a range of ways to drive people to your website or other resources. In addition to the in-profile call to action buttons, whenever you upload a link to your Facebook post and add an image, it becomes an attractive clickable link. This is effective for both paid and organic content.
- You can pay for promotional content – With the platform’s excellent data and targeting tools, Facebook advertising can be an effective, targeted and inexpensive way of boosting your companies’ reputation and reaching out to relevant people who may be interested in your products and services.
What it does less well
- It is hard to reach a wide/large audience via organic content – Unfortunately, due to algorithmic updates, Facebook now no longer delivers your content to all of your Facebook Fans. The algorithm decides how many fans it delivers your content to in relation to how much engagement the post generates. If people like, reply to or share your post, Facebook will deliver it to more people. However, if you want to guarantee a wide audience, you may find you need to put money behind your content.
- It offers little in the way of business-to-business networking, interaction or selling – While this is technically possible, Facebook is not the platform of choice for business to business networking due to platform limitations. You would be better off using Twitter or LinkedIn for this purpose.
- It will not give you street-cred – In the past, having a Facebook profile for your business was ‘cool’, but Facebook is now so commonly used these days that this will not make you stand out from the crowd. If your brand is looking to be more disruptive in its communications strategy, take a look at Snapchat or Instagram.
- It is not great for individual networking (although this is not impossible) – Facebook is primarily a personal social network, not a business one, so you may find it hard to add to your business network via the platform.
- It is not ideal for long-form content such as blogs or articles – While Facebook does allow long posts of text, you are still better off using a dedicated blog or platforms like Medium for longer content.
- You will not succeed with hard-sell organic content – The Facebook algorithm punishes content that doesn’t engage, delivering it to fewer people. No one likes to feel like they’re being sold to on social media, so explicitly promotional content will always struggle. If you’re looking to sell, run some Facebook ads instead and keep your page for friendly and interesting content.
A Facebook Page might work for you if
- You want to engage with your customers and reach potential new audiences online
- You are looking to raise awareness of your brand and products
- You want to use a social media profile as your online base
- You’re looking for a solid online customer service tool
It probably won’t work for you if
- You do not have time to maintain the page with regular updates – There is no point creating a profile and not doing anything with it.
- You’re primarily B2B or looking to network with businesses – While there are ways of doing this, you would have an easier time building your profile on Twitter or LinkedIn.
- You aren’t interested in reputation building or a ‘soft sell’ – For a Facebook page to succeed, it needs to have engaging content. If you are only interested in posting ads and promotional deals, forgo the Facebook page and run some Facebook ads instead.
Are you considering Facebook or another social media channel for your business? We could help. Whether you’re still considering which platforms to use or you have established social media channels, 360 integrated PR offer a range of social media services to suit all needs. Find out more here or call us for a complimentary chat!