If that seminal 80s TV show which launched the career of a very young Sarah Jessica Parker doesn’t already have a Facebook page – it damn well should. (Update: it does.) This article doesn’t directly involve any pimply, angst-filled teenagers with Flock of Seagulls haircuts, but any Facebook marketing effort that doesn’t have a specific goal or plan behind it runs the risk of ending up just as out of place, rejected and miserable as the aforementioned and unfortunate fictional highschoolers. Instead of hazing and wedgies, however, the end result will likely be unengaged followers, no measurable success metric and a tremendous waste of your precious budget. A wedgie may now seem more appealing. Like, gag me with a spoon.
The term in question of course comes from that old chestnut “It’s like putting a square peg in a round hole”. Other versions of this saying include putting “t*ts on a bull” or “spitting in the wind”, but they’re all metaphors for the exact same thing – futility. Cutesy crap aside, simply creating your company’s Facebook page is not a guarantee of success. Were I still being cutesy I’d have undoubtedly used the term “silver bullet” there. I may have also referenced the film Field of Dreams but unlike Costner’s cornfield to simply “build it” is nowhere near enough. I assure you – without a clear plan of attack coupled with a set of goals which is then multiplied by the internal resources required to operate your Facebook presence – they will not come. And never will.
I plan on typing up some tangible Facebook Marketing case studies in the very near future, as gross generalities like, “You’se guys need to get on Twitter” are about as helpful as those previously discussed bull-udders. For now, here are some admittedly general (but no less crucial) suggestions for initiating your Facebook marketing effort.
Facebook Marketing: 4 Crucial First Steps
- Identify Internal Resources
You know you’re going to create a Facebook page for your company. Do you also know who will be responsible for its content population, follower interaction, tracking, etc.? If you don’t have about 15 minutes a day or an hour a week to devote – stop dead in your tracks until you reorganize your own schedule or find an intern, employee or consultant who can manage the page for you. It will require consistent attention over an extended period of time. If you don’t have a resource, don’t bother.
- Set Clear Goals
Building a boat doesn’t make much sense without a destination to sail to. Likewise, a Facebook page without a purpose will never amount to more than the online equivalent of a vanity license plate. You’re allowed to rethink your strategy as time passes but at the very least start out with a handful of tangible intentions. Do you want to attract thousands of followers to build the Facebook equivalent of an e-mailing list? Do you want to give your paid Facebook ads an interesting landing page capable of converting? Is this effort meant to supplement your company website’s organic traffic? Write them down, refer to them, change them as needed – just make sure you’ve thought about the purpose behind the page.
- Define Tracking and Success Metrics
You know you want your Facebook page to drive traffic to your e-commerce site, but how will you measure results and attach real value to your efforts? Get familiar with Facebook’s internal “Insights” reporting tool. Install Google Analytics on your website and add a Facebook referral tracking “Goal” to your dashboard. If it all gets too much there are a wealth of 3rd-party reporting tools you may wish to consider. You can track the value of your efforts far beyond the number of followers you have. Use readily available (and free) data to figure out how and why they’re engaging with your page (sharing, commenting, liking) and then use that data to do more of what’s working.
- Devise a Clear Plan
Where to start? It can be an overwhelming question when dealing with a beast as open-ended as Facebook. Keep it simple and start off by “commoditizing” and scheduling certain recurring activities. Every Monday you might set a target of finding, adding and then contributing a comment to 5 Facebook pages or groups (operative word being “contribute”, don’t blatantly promote yourself). Tuesdays and Thursdays might be for manually sharing blog posts (on groups, other pages and with individuals) from your main site which were imported via RSS onto your page. Wednesdays share a relevant link. Fridays write a medium length piece of content which is unique to (and will only ever appear on) your Facebook page. See? It’s not that daunting anymore. Rinse and repeat, week after week until you can identify what’s working and change the plan accordingly.
What have we learned? Your content will never be seen without a plan. A plan is worthless without goals. Goals and plans have to evolve and change. And absolutely none of this will work without a steady stream of the aforementioned content and user engagement facilitated by a resource (ahem, step #1) with the time to devote. What a mind-cluttering maelstrom of interrelated dependencies. Break everything down into these four steps, however, and your efforts are far more likely to succeed. We’ll get into these steps in more detail over time. Until then please feel free to agree, disagree or contribute in the comments below.