Love it or loathe it, Facebook is undoubtedly one of THE best places to market your small business. There are gazillions of users, you can post various types of content, and it’s easy to reach a very specific audience. However, unless you know how to play the game (and it’s an ever-changing one), it can be a frustrating source of misery that only serves to suck you down rabbit holes or see you deleting your profile in disgust. Generating great Facebook engagement is not as simple as it used to be.
So how do small business owners make the most of this behemoth? They build a targeted audience who want to hear new things from them regularly and who are inspired to respond. And it is this last part that is the key.
The term ‘engagement’ gets bandied around a lot in regards to social media as if its some mystical shrine to aim for. In simple terms, social media engagement measures the shares, likes and comments for a business’ social media efforts (your posts and your page events). Historically it was a common metric for evaluating performance, however what we now know is that high levels of engagement don’t necessarily translate to sales. BUT the engagement piece is still very important in terms of building connection and community (which when done well WILL inevitably lead to sales). What we also know is that recent algorithm changes means that Facebook engagement for most businesses has been on a downward spiral.
But try not to panic! In essence, Facebook is asking brands to simply rethink how they earn likes, comments and shares on their posts. They are no longer rewarding spammy tactics such as ‘vote baiting’ or ‘share baiting’ (you know those dodgy competitions and quizzes?). Those old chestnuts will not fly in today’s Facebook world. What you need is a specific Facebook engagement strategy if you want that lovely organic reach again.
Here are 7 Facebook engagement strategies you can use immediately to improve your reach:
Timing is everything
Use your insights to find out when your followers are most active and post at these times. You will instantly increase the likelihood of getting likes and comments. And the more engagement your post receives, the more likely Facebook is to reward it with reach. Posting randomly and expecting engagement is foolhardy. Use a scheduling tool to plan out the timings.
Put your fans first
A general rule of thumb is that only 20% of your content should be about you; if you keep talking about your brand and your product it will become stale and repetitive and fans will tune out. Posting content that is about your readers is going to increase engagement markedly. Try something funny, try piggyback off news or real-world events, try posting some fascinating or shocking facts related to your fans. Filling your feed with a variety of content will encourage followers to keep coming back to see what’s next.
Visual content kills it on Facebook. But don’t rely on stock photos whatever you do. Create your own images and write interesting captions to go with them. Behind the scenes images work well, as do stories about employees/customers – anything that is striking that will stop a scroller in their tracks.
You must prioritise replying to your fans. If someone takes the time to comment, you should return the favour. More interaction – from you and them – scores more reach. And make it timely – people expect a social response within 4 hours! (Use a chatbot to respond for you if this is an impossible task!)
Facebook makes no secret of how much they love video content on their platform (anyone heard the rumour they’re trying to shut down YouTube?!). As part of the recent update, Facebook explicitly talks about how well native video performs in terms of engagement and therefore reach. And by ‘native’ I mean, you must upload the video direct to Facebook, not simple paste a link to a YouTube video in your post.
Include a Call to Action
As already mentioned, Facebook isn’t keen on “tag your friends” or “smash that LIKE button” type posts, but a reasonable call to action is super great for engagement. Asking a question is an excellent and easy way to encourage comments, debates and discussion – just don’t beg for them! The information you receive back will help you understand more about your audience too.
Share your passion, share your expertise, share your ups and downs, share what happens in your business – warts and all, and get your face out there. People love engaging with people, not products or services. So show them you!
So, rather than throw your hands in the air in despair, bemoaning the fact that “Facebook doesn’t work anymore”, why not change things up a little to see if you can increase your engagement? What matters most is simply having some form of Facebook engagement strategy. All the top brands on Facebook post consistently and interact with their followers, and shine as a result. And you can too.