Your business needs to have a Facebook marketing plan that lays out the path to take to achieve your goals in a given timeline. By putting your plan in writing, you’re far more likely to hit your targets in a timely fashion.
Facebook is in many ways a very spontaneous marketing tool, because personal users tend to focus on the present moment when using Facebook. For this reason, many businesses don’t feel that they need a social media marketing plan. But just like in traditional marketing, you need a Facebook marketing plan that focuses on who the target market is, how they can be reached, and what the best tools are to do so.
When you’re using Facebook as a marketing tool, you have to strategic, but you also need to be flexible enough to adjust when your marketing results call for it.
Dare to be different from most businesses that use Facebook to market their products and services. Treat your Facebook marketing plan as an actual business tool. The businesses that give Facebook the marketing attention it deserves always get a return on their investment of time, money and resources.
Developing a Marketing Program
Start jotting down answers to the questions I ask, and use these answers to begin crafting your own social media marketing plan. Also start writing down your Facebook goals, promotional content, and design ideas. Use these notes to develop a full-blown marketing plan.
Mapping Out Your Goals
So what are your Facebook marketing goals? Here are some examples of goals for various types of business:
- A business owner or president might want to make more money.
- A marketing director might want to get more brand exposure.
- A nonprofit organization might want to increase the number of volunteers and get more donations.
- An association might want to use Facebook as a networking medium for their members.
All of these are legitimate goals, and you can use Facebook to achieve them. Think of Facebook as a means to an end. It’s not just marketing tool for promoting your brand, but a window into the wants and needs of your audience.
To begin the process of developing your Facebook marketing plan, list your immediate goals, your goals for three months from now, and your goals for a year from now. Here’s a sample list to get you thinking in the right direction:
- Immediate goals: Set up a Facebook page, launch it, and invite everyone on your email list to join you.
- Three-month goals: acquire 250 fans, have your posts prewritten for the following month’s marketing, and launch your first advertising campaign.
- One-year goal: Have 500+ active fans who provie you with feedback on the research questions you ask each month.
Other common Facebook goals for businesses include the following:
- Generating more brand exposure
- Driving traffic to your website
- Providing customer service
- Identifying new customers
- Retaining existing customers
- Performing market research
- Selling products and services on Facebook
- Using Facebook as a communications tool
Choosing Which Products and Services to Feature
Identify what products and services you want to promote on Facebook. Define these products or services and identify their key attributes and benefits. If you sell hundreds of products or services, select a few of them to focus on at any given time. Think of Facebook as a homepage of a website. In effect, it’s a portal into your larger offerings. If you have too much going on up front, you’re going to confuse your users, and they might leave. Instead, feature no more than 10 products or services. In fact, the fewer products or services you feature, the better, as your page will be clearer and easier to use. If you only have one or two products or services, that’s to your advantage when marketing on Facebook.
Choosing Your Promotional Strategies
For any business to grow, it needs to make itself known to more people. To generate awareness, you need to run promotions. Facebook offers several promotional tools for getting your marketing message out to your current fans, friends of your fans, and people who fit the description of your target market.
Facebook offers the following promotional opportunities:
Facebook Ads – You can purchase ads that appear in the right-hand column of pages throughout Facebook. They are delivered to targeted audiences based on user’s Profiles. A Facebook ad can include an image and text, and it’s sometimes paired with news about social actions (such as Liking a page) that a user’s friends may have taken.
Sponsored Stories – These fee-based stories also show up on the right column of pages on Facebook. They are more subtle than ads potentially have greater impact.
Facebook Marketplace – The Marketplace is a Facebook site dedicated to selling personal goods and services; it’s similar to a classified as site, where you can find cars, rentals, real estate, and even fish tanks.
All of these promotional options offer great opportunities to get more exposure to your fans. In strategizing which ones make sense for your company, refer back to your goals.
Users get tired of seeing the same promotions. Mix them up so that you’re not always doing the same thing over and over.
Creating a Marketing Calendar
Your marketing calendar serves as your road map to your complete Facebook marketing schedule for the next year. Keeping a close eye on your calendar, helps keep your campaigns on schedule.
The most efficient way to build your calendar is to use a program that can store the actual messages you plan to post on Facebook. A spreadsheet is one way to accomplish this.
Here are some types of information you should include on the calendar as Facebook posts:
- Sales and Promotions of Your Products and Service: This can be a 10 percent sale on all blue shirts, or $ 7 ties for anyone whose name is John. Get creative. Plan your online sales to complement your offline sales.
- Lighthearted Posts to Elicit Humor: Use jokes and funny pictures to get a response from your fans. Your posts don’t always have to be about the business. Consider posting a picture of a dog or a baby doing something funny. Schedule these as the need arises to break up the monotony – once a week is a good idea.
- Contests: Contests are a surefire way to drive traffic to your site and build your fan base. Schedule these on a monthly basis.
- Other Creative Items Such As Video, Live Appearances, And So On: Think of your marketing calendar as your main resource for all the things you’re going to do to sell your products/services on facebook. Anything that comes up, make sure to slot it into the calendar.
When scheduling the frequency of your posts, it’s best to limit them to no more than three times per week. If every post generates a big fan response, you can gradually increase the frequency. Additionally, don’t post more than one sales promotion per week. Any more than this and you’ll come off as being very sales-oriented and you may lose fans.
People are most active on facebook on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, so these are the best days for promotions.
If you sell a line of pies to quick-service restaurants, school programs, and bakeries, you probably already have a marketing plan for selling those pies. In you marketing plan, you probably send out emails, postcards, and sales sheets; go to tradeshows; and make calls on a weekly basis.
You can use Facebook promotions to fill in the gaps in the marketing calendar. And because Facebook is so easy to use and many promotion strategies are free, you can promote individual products rather than bulking them together.
Deviating From Your Schedule
If possible, format your marketing calendar so that it shows your Facebook promotions on a weekly basis. Keep in mind, however, that not every action you take on Facebook will appear on your calendar. For instance, you might not schedule a Facebook post for Monday, but if on Monday a fan replies to one of your posts, or she starts a post, you need to reply to it promptly. Facebook users expect speedy responses to their posts.
Make time in your schedule to check your Facebook page for posts and to reply back as needed. It’s a good practice to do these 3 times a day. This process doesn’t need eat up a lot your time. I recommend that you give yourself 15 minutes several times a day to review and reply to posts.
Additionally, always leave a spot open each week for breaking news. Its okay for these kinds of in-the-moment posts to trump your scheduled posts because most of the time they bring even more attention to your page than any promotion could. It’s the nature of people to want to know something important that just happened.
Here are a few breaking-news examples:
- The softball team your business sponsors wins their league championship
- One of your employees receives a community-service award from a local charity
- A local citizen decides to run for state office
- Your local high school football team hosts a home game against a major rival
- A terrible storm is heading for your area
- The Chicago Cubs win the World Series
Each of these may grab the attention of your fans and ignite some hot conversation. Is this off the topic of your business? Sure. But it’s a part of building relationship on Facebook. Get to know your fans.
Similarly, you need to be willing to jump outside of the plan you created when special circumstances introduce themselves. For example, if a tornado just hit a small city in your part of the country and ravaged all of the buildings and homes, you should be willing to adjust your marketing schedule to mention the event.
A business might post the following after a disaster hits:
- Our hearts go out to the many lives that were lost.
- In times of difficulty, our humanity compels us to help one another.
Deciding on Topics
When it comes to deciding on what topics to post about on Facebook, separate your topics into several categories:
- Informational and educational content
- Questions and polls
- Lighthearted topics, jokes, and other humor
Mix this up to fit the scope of your business. Post your content at the same time each week. Having a formula makes it easy for you and your team to generate posts, and your fans know what to expect. People like predictability. It’s what keeps them grounded and organized.
Figuring How Much Time to Spend on Marketing
Most businesses spend about four hours a week or less managing their social media presence. I encourage you to schedule a minimum of four hours into your weekly plan, but you should plan to spend more time on your Facebook marketing campaign when you’re first getting it up and running. As you grow and start to do more business online, the required amount of time in a given week will also increase.
Think of Facebook as another marketing format – along with newsletters; radio, TV, and print advertising; conferences; and anything else you to do to promote your business – and give it the same amount of energy you give to these other marketing efforts.
Crafting Your Posts
Writing posts on Facebook is part art and part science. Every audience is unique and has a particular way that they like to communicate. A local country band may end every post with “We love ya’ll more than mama’s apple pie.” It’s colloquial, it’s local, and it’s just plain fun. At the same time, your posts need to be predictable and elicit a reaction from your fans.
You need to tailor the style of your posts to your business and your audience. If you interact with the general public, and you have a business where humor is acceptable – such as barber shop or ice cream shop – make your post funny. If your business is a little more professional or conservative, such as an accounting firm or a chiropractor office, stick to delivering data and facts. You know your customers better than anyone, so make sure to deliver them the content that they want.
Your message should reflect what your customers want to hear – not just what you want to share. Here are some ideas.
- Breaking News
- White papers on the latest research
- Pictures of new products
- How-to video demonstration
- Jokes and other humorous posts
Facebook is a space where people network and communicate primarily with their friends. As a business, you’re in a more secondary role. To blend in and not appear too pushy, you need to act more casual than you would on a strictly business forum. If your fans wanted you to be completely professional, they’d be on a different social network, such as LinkedIn.
When deciding what to say, start with what you know and what you can share that’s valuable to potential fans and current customers. People love to hear about the latest and greatest features on products that they use. Start by writing a few posts that direct users to your website or blog.
For instance, if you run a deli, you might steer readers to your web page, where you provide nutritional data for all of your sandwiches and soups. If you’re a law firm, you might post a weekly legal tip. If you’re a handyman, you might feature a brief how-to video for various simple household fixes, such as tightening a leaky faucet. Another idea for a handyman is to include seasonal tips, such as “It’s that time of year again: have you cleaned the leaves and debris from your rain gutters?”
You can even push your fans to other resources. These may be products or services that you don’t offer but are still a great value. The handyman may post a link to a hardware store that shows a picture of the kinds of doors that are available to purchase. A landscaper could post a link to some famous lawns and lawn ornaments of movie stars. And a dentist might post a link to a video that explains how tooth decay forms on a tooth when it’s not properly cared for.
On a weekly or monthly basis, you should set aside some time to brainstorm original content ideas for the month. I recommend gathering your team in a creative setting (outside the office works best) and detaching yourself from cell phones, computers, and even Facebook. Your goal should be to generate original ideas, not to copy others.
Asking Your Audience What They Want To Hear
If you’re struggling to come up with ideas, consider asking your audience for suggestions. Ask your fans what they want to hear about by using the Question tool. You can even use the poll options to set up a question so that it can have multiple answers.
For example, if you run a printing company, your question might look like this:
We are planning our editorial calendar for the next six months and would like your input on the topics we cover in our upcoming posts. So far we are planning to cover the following topics:
- Building a better business card
- Turning thank-you notes into up-sell opportunities
- Using postcards in marketing campaigns
Please provide three suggestions for topics you’d like to learn about:
By approaching content in this way, your audience is part of the team that creates. And they love the idea that you are asking them for this.
Keeping it Short and Sweet
People generally don’t actually read content on the web like they read book. Instead, they skim. This goes for Facebook, too. That means that they typically only see keywords that are meaningful to them, and they skip the rest. This is why it’s important to keep your posts short and to the point. While notes are great for longer posts, they aren’t as effective in terms of visibility. Use them sparingly. Can you imagine if a business page you liked posted multiple, lengthy messages to its Facebook site every day? It wouldn’t take long for you to either unlike the business or hide the page.
Image Credits – Marketing Strategy