You’ve heard that having a Facebook page is all the rage for business nowadays. You think that you should be part of the Facebook trend. You possibly use Facebook personally and see that it could help you gain new customers and communicate with existing ones. You even wonder whether you can use it to promote yourself to some of your competitors’ fans. So what should you do?
Setting up Your Own Page
Obviously before you can even think about using it to attract customers, new or those of your competitors, you need to build up a professional, attractive Facebook page yourself.
It is a relatively easy job to set up a Facebook business page, but there are a few clear steps that you need to follow.
Begin by clicking on the downwards facing triangle towards the right of the blue bar across the top of any Facebook screen. A list of options comes up; choose “Create Page”. Select the most appropriate of the following options:
- Local business or place
- Artist, band or public figure
- Company, organisation or institution
- Brand or product
- Cause or community
Fill in any relevant information you are asked for. Note that it is not possible to change your category without having to create a completely new page, so think carefully before you choose it. If there is any doubt at all, this might be a good time to look at your competitors’ pages. How have they classified their pages?
Fill in all the basic information and upload your main profile image (sized 180 x 180). As this is the image that appears beside all of your posts it should ideally be your logo. Also, think carefully about how you describe yourself in the About Me field. This is what will appear on the front page, and is what any casual visitor will see about you. Make it count. Again, look at your main competitor’s description, and try and produce something better than what they have written.
The next section looks at your Admin Panel, which will be an area you will work from regularly. One job to do here is to write an expanded About Me section for the fan who is interested enough to click on the shortened version on your front page.
It is time to check your opposition again. Generally, what is the first thing you will notice when you go to their site? It will probably be the cover photo that they drape across the upper section of their front page. You need to ensure that yours is equally as striking, or preferably more so. Remember that the measurement is 815 x 315 – get this right, otherwise you will be disappointed by the results.
The absolute key to your business Facebook page is to have regular engaging content. You need to ensure that somebody is given the task of regularly updating the page, and keeping conversations going. You can easily set up rights for different staff members in the Administration Pane.
You can create tabs with content. Again check how your opposition use their tabs. You want your visitors to have a good user experience, so it is often best to restrict yourself to the four tabs that remain visible without scrolling. If you were a British firm in the fast food industry, you might notice that the McDonald’s U.K. site uses far more than the four basic tabs, and have them listed in a somewhat eclectic order. The four main tabs, in order, are Timeline / About / Photos / Students. These are followed by More, which if you click on brings up McDonald’s Breakfast / House Rules / Likes / Locations / Videos / Search Jobs / Visit Us / McNuggets Saucy Challenge. Burger King, on the other hand, chooses to only have three items under their More tab, obviously relying on their customers navigating to the more visible tabs.
Make certain that you post regularly. Analyse what your readers seem to like and engage with. Do they like images? Do they like statistics? Do they click on particular types of links? You can find this information out by clicking on “View Insights” in your Admin Panel. From there you can monitor reach, engagement etc., and determine what works and what does not.
If you have any particularly important posts, maybe they are about a particular promotion or some key item of news about your business, you can make these posts stand out by clicking on the star at the top right of any post. This highlights the post horizontally across the entire page.
Targeting Your Competitors
So specifically, what can we do to target our competitors? There are a number of strategies, although many of these have had to change quite recently as Facebook has altered its terms and conditions, limiting the activities that it considers acceptable within its rules. They have cracked down hard on tracking add-ons recently, and it is now quite difficult to get detailed information about pages that are not your own.
Firstly you should analyse your competitor’s internet strengths and weaknesses. You can get basic statistics about a domain’s popularity on Facebook by entering the following url in your browser:
e.g. if you want to know statistics relating to McDonalds, you could enter:
This will bring up an XML file that will include the number of Facebook likes, shares and comments, relating to the particular domain. So, in the McDonalds.com example there are currently 2913 likes, 6800 shares and 4448 comments, but their McDonalds.co.uk site has only 17 likes, 102 shares and 2 comments.
You can find some more information by using http://graph.facebook.com/facebookname,
e.g. for McDonalds:
Some useful information you can learn here is their site ID number (which can be substituted for their name in the address bar), the category they have chosen for their website (have you chosen the same category?), their Facebook likes (a huge 32153757 in the case of mcdonalds.com), their username and a number of other statistics.
You can find some interesting information by going to https://www.facebook.com/competitorsname/likes, e.g. https://www.facebook.com/McDonaldsUK/likes tells you the number of likes on a day-by-day basis. It also tells you that McDonalds UK’s most engaged fans are Londoners aged from 18-24.
The next area to look at is what your competitors’ fans are writing on their Facebook wall. Go to their Timeline page, and scroll down the left sidebar until you come to the Posts to Page section. Click on that. You will now have a page of the most recent posts made by the visitors to their site.
Read these comments. What do their fans like about them? What can you do to emulate the things that they are doing successfully?
Just as importantly, what are these people complaining about? On the day I looked at the McDonalds UK page, there were fans complaining that most of the vouchers they were given were years out of date. Immediately you know of something to watch out for yourself. There were also many other complaints about poor service and even dishonesty by a particular branch. While there is obviously not any proven veracity as to the truth of some of the complaints, it is still a good guide as to public feelings about your competitor’s performance.
You can learn a lot from how your competitors respond to the complaints, either from the good techniques they use or the bad ones. Notably, the McDonalds technique was to not respond at all.
You can learn more information about your competitors’ Facebook pages (as well as interesting and useful statistics about your own page) by subscribing to Fanpage Karma. There is a 14 day free subscription option if you only want to use it once to get basic information. It can tell you what kind of posts attract fans and encourage engagement, e.g. do the fans react best to pictures, links, videos or offers etc. In the case of McDonalds you discover that they only post pictures. Fanpage Karma also shows you statistics about what days result in the best interactions. Clearly the most successful McDonalds posts are made on Fridays. This does suggest that if McDonalds was your competitor, you should be making Friday posts.
You can use the History and Benchmarking tab within Facebook Karma to see what kinds of posts have done well for your competitor. Maybe you could benefit from producing more posts like those with high engagement. While you are on that page you can see who the top influencers are, and you can look to see why they have been successful. At the time of writing the most successful food and beverages page is actually the Starbucks one. Make certain to record these successful competitors’ ID numbers, which you can use when targeting your Facebook advertising.
Targeting Your Facebook Advertising
One way that you can really target your competitors is by targeting your advertising towards the people who like your competitors’ pages. You can even design ads that focus on the problems that you have seen mentioned on your competitors’ pages. For example, a UK fast food restaurant, could make a point of advertising how they do not hand out dated vouchers.
When you set up your Facebook ad it is recommended that you use the Power Editor option. This gives you a number of choices to help you specifically target your ads. If you click on Ads, then Audience and scroll down you will find a section on Demographics. Within that you will find a section on Internet Behaviours and Categories. To target your competitors’ pages, search for them by name in the Interests section. So, for example our fast food restaurant would target their ads at people who list McDonalds as their interest. While you are at it, you may find that it might be a good idea to choose to target a Lookalike Audience for your existing fan base in the Audiences section.
If your competitor is too small to appear in the Interests field, you can at least target the same demographic. As McDonalds UK targets 18-24 year-old Londoners our fast food restaurant could also target the same group.
It is no longer easy to get specific lists of your competitors’ supporters. Facebook have made it clear that you breach their conditions if you try. There used to be quite a few applications that would strip out for you the I.D. codes of the people visiting your competitor’s Facebook pages. There is no longer an easy way to do this. However if you do your homework and follow the techniques I have outlined you should be able to focus on your competitors’ fans with your targeted advertising dollars and promotion, combined of course with high quality appropriate content on your own page.
Many of us have the question in our minds trying to figure out whether they should use facebook ppc or Google ppc, but realistically the only way one can resolve this dilema is to try them both and measure the results over a period of time.
- Facebook ads are rapidly gaining in popularity and are very beneficial to small to medium size businesses, attempting to increase traffic with pay per click.
- Facebook is currently showing up as having four hundred million active members and is the only company that Google actually acknowledges is a real competitor to them.
- Facebook is pretty much untapped compared to PPC advertising on Google, Yahoo or Bing. There is another big benefit to this type of advertising – if people like your business, they can pass “word of mouth” very easily to other people on facebook, and now you have happy customers doing your advertising.
- Another fantastic advantage of facebook advertising is you can target a list of potential customers in a way that was never available before. Demographic targeting means that facebook PPC clients will be able to set up their ads so that they only appear on the facebook pages of people who are tightly defined as part of their target market. For example, advertisers will be able to select from a number of options such as age, gender, marital status, geographical location, hobbies and interests. When ads are as well targeted as this, copy writing becomes a much easier process. You have a much better chance of generating targeted clicks to their sales pages.
- Google pay per click advertising is a flexible, relatively low cost method of promoting your website and generating interest that can help you achieve your company’s targets.
- It can be economical compared with more traditional advertising strategies.
- The principles of pay per click advertising are straight forward – if a company is willing to place the highest bid for a keyword it will be ranked the highest on the search results page.
- For short-term advertising campaigns, pay per click advertising is ideal – allowing organisations to change the copy of ads. as desired to reflect keyword changes.
In both cases the disadvantages of pay per click campaigns is if they are not monitored on a regular basis, ones company could end up spending more money than it made by pay per click advertising. The cost per click will remain the same rate, whatever your traffic levels are.
March 25th, 2010.
‘What page should I launch – a group or fan page?’
There are two ways on facebook you can advertise your business – a fan page or a group page. Firstly, you should consider how you want to communicate with your audience, i.e. do you want to be an information source or do you want to engage your audience in dialogue? Both groups and fan pages allow you to create discussions and others to reply. Both have a wall for people to write on and allow you to share videos and pictures and require you to manually remove posts as an administrator if something does not meet your standards or purpose for the page.
Here are some points that can help you decide which is best for you:
- Pages are similar to personal profiles on facebook, but used in a commercial capacity such as a celebrity, public figure, Brand, local business and so on.
- Pages are essentially a profile for your business, which can also be viewed publicly by people who are not users of facebook.
- Businesses can use fan pages to publish information, which is then picked up in status feeds of their fans.
- facebook users can connect with their favourite artists and businesses through fan pages and also show their colleagues/friends what they care about.
- Once a facebook user becomes a fan they then can recommend that page to other friends.
- Pages have two walls, one which the Page owner writes, and one just for fans to write their own messages. Like a normal facebook profile, Pages have tabs that uncover more information.
- Pages are better for companies who want to interact with their fans or customers without having them connected to a personal account, and have a need to exceed facebook’s 5,000 friend cap.
In summary if you don’t want to mix your personal interactions with your business on facebook, then a fan page might be just want you need. Your fan page can be strictly for your online business and will keep all your interactions steered towards your business contacts.
- These are generally better for hosting an active discussion and attracting fast attention.
- Groups allow you to send out bulk invitations (for instance, you can ask all of your friends to join the group) and any of your group members can also invite their friends. If you have “friends” on your facebook page who are acquaintances or just share common interests this is a good way to market.
- Groups are not public, but allow you to send messages that show up in a person’s Inbox, making more direct communication.
- Group pages allow you to set other administrators to see who is requesting to join the group. If you post something to the group page, it will also show up on your personal wall. Some people don’t like this because it ties them to their businesses, but this can be useful in creating a “person behind the online business” feeling with your customers. You have more control over participants and permissions with group memberships.
- A group, however, has a limitation of 5,000 members if you wish to send a message. They are generally considered to be best for more personal interaction.
In summary groups are great for organising on a personal level and for smaller scale interaction around a cause.
Regardless of which one you choose (of course, you can have both), be sure to update regularly, keep your audience engaged and offer something of value. If you use your fan page or group purely for promotional reasons, you are far less likely to build loyalty, and there’s a good chance that your members and friends won’t be returning to your pages anytime soon.
With the UK elections fast approaching I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how well the major UK political parties were using social media to connect with voters.
All of the UK parties are maintaining a social media presence, with Facebook pages, Twitter and YouTube accounts prominently linked from their respective websites. To take a snapshot of activity and a gauge of its success I recorded the following metrics,
- Facebook page friends
- Twitter followers
- Twitter tweets
- Twitter reach
- Klout score – a measure of Twitter influence
- Compete score – a measure of website traffic
While all parties get points for maintaining a social presence on the major social sites The Conservatives are way ahead of their competition when it comes to the number of raw followers and the reach of their campaign. The Green Party received the highest Klout score, a measure of their influence and interaction on Twitter.
Interestingly enough the extremist BNP received by far the largest level of traffic to their website, but were one of the lowest scorers when it came to followers and interaction levels – perhaps an indication of voters researching their headline grabbing policies, but a degree of unwillingness to follow and interact with them, will this translate into a lack of votes?
On the whole though the UK parties are doing a fairly poor job of leveraging and interacting with social media users. Compare the Conservatives 23,000 Facebook page friends with Obama’s profile currently over the 7.5 million mark. Even allowing for a smaller population and lower levels of social media engagement it’s clear that campaigns are failing to achieve what they should be doing. It’s difficult to tell if this is due to campaign mis-management, or simply voter apathy after recent political events.