By now you know about how powerful Facebook can be for brands. Most of the naysayers have been quieted. Those who kept predicting “the next MySpace” have all crawled away to their caves.
There are nearly 1.5 Billion people on Facebook now. Close to 1 Billion there every single day.
That doesn’t mean that success on Facebook comes easily now. Instead, it can work the other way: The noise and the competition can make it more difficult for brands.
While most brands are on Facebook because they know they have to be, very few understand how best to use it. The truth is that success is buried in a little old school secret.
What Brands Are Doing Wrong
We could spend all day talking about what brands do wrong on Facebook. But to simplify it, brands make a few main mistakes…
1. Focusing on Fans
It’s not that building a fan base is wrong, it’s more the way brands go about it.
They focus on quantity and price over quality. And to build that base, they run contests and poorly targeted ads to people who aren’t all that likely to buy from them.
2. Focusing on Reach
So the goals of most brands tend to go in this order. First they want as many fans for as little money as possible (quality be damned!). Then they measure success by focusing on reach.
I’m not going to go on my typical tirade here. I’ve done it a million times. But I’m sick of brands focusing on this metric.
The first problem is that, more often than not, they aren’t building a quality fan base in the first place. So of course reach is going to suck.
The second is that their reach, in and of itself, is not a metric worth following. It’s the important actions that follow.
3. Focusing on Engagement
So you built a fan base of people who don’t care that much about you. Then you focus on a flimsy metric like reach. Then we usually come to engagement.
Most brands finally come to the realization that reach doesn’t tell them everything. They want engagement! Because it’s those likes, comments, shares and other clicks that tell them how much people love their brand.
So they start sharing lots of photos. Maybe memes. Maybe videos. But the focus now moves to whether people are engaging with their content. And often it’s entertainment value content that’s very loosely connected to their brand — if at all.
This is paper thin as well. Not only does simple engagement fail to tell us much but you can’t invest in engagement. You can’t build anything long-term with comments, likes, shares and other clicks.
4. Focusing on Sales
Other brands go to the other extreme. They care only about the bottom line.
They sell. They sell. And they sell some more. All they do is sell, and the number of sales is how they measure their success.
Of course, people hate being sold to — especially if it’s constant. And if you’re selling to the wrong people (which these brands almost always are), you can’t expect much success.
What Brands Should Do Instead
First, let’s look at this generally before getting to the steps you should take…
You should be building an audience of people who actually care about you. You should be creating lots and lots of helpful content. You should be investing in your website and driving people there. You should be building that website traffic to help build your Facebook audience which will help drive more traffic and more fans and more sales.
Confused? Let’s go through the steps…
Step 1: Invest In Your Website
I realize we’re talking about Facebook, but this is an absolute must. It’s your top priority. You own it, and it will be pivotal to your success on Facebook.
Before you do anything on Facebook, get your website right. Get your branding down. Get it well designed. Figure out your voice. Assign resources to creating content.
Oh, that takes us here…
Step 2: Create LOTS of Helpful Content
No, I’m not talking about “Our products are awesome, here’s why” type content. I’m talking about truly interesting, helpful content that people actually care about.
Have your target audience in mind. Make a list of all of the questions they have related to your niche or problems that your product solves. Get help from your customer service and sales teams as they are sure to get lots of questions.
These questions are the foundation of your blog posts. Your most commonly asked questions are the titles of blog posts.
The vast majority of these blog posts won’t have anything to do with your product. If you are a small business loan company, it will be based on the questions people ask about getting a loan.
- How much revenue do you need to get a loan?
- What information is required to get a loan?
- What interest rates are available for small business loans?
- What type of loan should you get?
- Over how many years should you pay off your loan?
You get the point. Write and write and write some more. Not once a week, but as often as possible.
Step 3: Share That Content
When you write this content, you’re going to get terrible traffic. Just know that. Early on, there’s no avoiding it. This is because you’ve done a terrible job of building your foundation, but we’re correcting that.
Share it to your Facebook page. Even if you have very few fans — or very few fans who care about you — share it anyway.
Of course, make it interesting. Try to start a conversation with it, and inspire your audience to click and read.
Don’t share just on Facebook either, but that’s obviously our focus here. I assume you have an email list. Share it there as well.
Step 4: Promote That Content
Now what we want to do is give that content a broader audience by paying to reach more people — people who might be helped by your blog post.
Spend a little money to share to your fans, though if your fan base is small that will be close to nothing.
Spend a little more money to share to Lookalike Audiences and related interests. Use Audience Insights if you need help isolating interests you should target.
Understand that long term you’ll want to move away from targeting interests. But we have to start somewhere.
Step 5: Create a Website Custom Audience and Target It
Now that you’re driving traffic to your website, it’s time to create a Website Custom Audience. Actually, you should have done this when you created your website, but it won’t be all that valuable until traffic starts coming in.
Understand that when you promote your blog posts to interests, most people will ignore it. But those who click have expressed an interest in your topic. That’s a great thing! Now we need to make sure we capture them.
Make sure to create a Website Custom Audience of all website visitors during the past 180 days. That way, the audience will be as big as possible while being relevant enough to want to reach again.
By using Website Custom Audiences, the people who clicked your ad are now added to an audience that you can target later. As traffic to your website grows, the Website Custom Audience grows. And as the Website Custom Audience grows, you can begin spending more money targeting that audience and less targeting interests and Lookalike Audiences.
The “WCA 180 Days” that I use for my website traffic has 520,000 people in it. As a result, there is no reason for me to ever target interests again!
Step 6: Build a Fan Base
Some people claim there’s no value in a fan base. I disagree, particularly in the early stages of your online brand.
Now that you’re driving traffic and building a Website Custom Audience, put that audience to good use. Run ads targeting your website visitors to also build your fan base.
As the fan base of website visitors grows, continually share those new blog posts organically. You’ll drive traffic that way in addition to the ads you run.
The fan base will allow you to drive traffic organically in addition to paid. And we need to drive that traffic!
Step 7: Build Your Email List
Okay, so now we have been focusing on driving website traffic by sharing and promoting lots of helpful content. The Website Custom Audience is growing. The fan base is growing, too. This is good!
But now let’s start building your email list. It’s important to wait until Step 7 to do this since it will be costly to do so if you’re only targeting cold leads via interests.
Now that you’ve been creating a ton of helpful content, you can start packaging some of that content into an ebook. It doesn’t need to be an ebook, but create some sort of lead magnet that you can offer in exchange for an email address.
Share that lead magnet with your fans. Promote it to your fans. Promote it to your Website Custom Audience. Have a pop-up on your site. Create an opt-in widget on your site.
Step 8: Sell Your Stuff
Now we’re getting somewhere! You’re creating lots of helpful content that appeals to your target audience. You’re using that content to drive people from Facebook to your website. You’re then remarketing to those who have been to your website to build your fan base, drive more traffic and build an email list.
Now it’s time to sell!
Since you’ve been building an email list, make sure to email those people regarding product. You knew that, right?
Now that you have a relevant fan base made up of website visitors, target your fans with ads that sell product. And also target your prior website visitors who may not be fans.
When traffic is really good, you can start doing things like targeting website visitors based on specific pages they’ve visited. But right now, this will do!
Step 9: Repeat with Step 2
This is not a short-term process. You’re committed for the long-term. We’re not just building to the point of selling and stopping. This process continually feeds on itself.
Create more content. Share more content. Promote more content. Build your fan base. Build your email list. Sell your product.
The more content you create, the more content you can promote. The more content you promote, the more traffic you drive. The more traffic you drive, the more relevant people you can target to read more content, join your email list and buy your product.
Make sense? GOOD!
Granted, this is a pretty simplified explanation for how this works. And how you apply it will depend upon your brand. But I’ve seen it work over and over again.
While simple, very few brands take this approach. They focus on things that don’t matter instead of investing in the future of their brand. And the future is found in driving traffic to something you own.
What are your thoughts on this approach? Let me know in the comments below!