These days, every content marketer needs a large and active social media audience. It helps you push content out to current customers, court potential consumers, construct or maintain your brand in the image you want, and create positive chatter about your company. And when that content and chatter get shared, your message grows exponentially.
Most of us are sold: Social media is an essential component of any content marketing program. And for the business-to-consumer marketer, Facebook is the perfect place to start. But you don’t just snap your fingers and go; you need to build that audience.
Read on for some approaches we use at Brandpoint to help build Facebook followings for our content marketing clients. We’ll cover seven hands-on social strategy secrets in all, breaking the coverage down into three insights with this post, and four in a follow-up article.
These days, few Facebook fans are going to hit “like” just because you’re cool. Folks want a little return – or at least the chance of it – for entering an online relationship with you.
Sweepstakes and giveaways are one method of offering potential followers something – or at least the dream of something – for “joining.” That dream of something great goes a long way in building engagement.
While sweepstakes can be a substantial budget investment – there’s a prize to identify and buy, promotions to create, media and posts to purchase, a back end to manage – a great grand prize that is highly relevant to your audience can create the incentive and interest you need to get consumers really clicking. If you’re a destination, you have a built-in prize resource!
Giveaways (essentially, smaller sweepstakes) are also smart; given the right prize, they can do as well as sweepstakes at attracting entrants and followers. Coupons do great incentive work too, for encouraging folks to join your audience.
No matter the prize, create a smooth and easy process for consumers to “like” you and enter. If there are any kinks in the flow, your conversion rate will suffer.
Bonus Tip: Post engaging, conversational style posts in between incentive posts to keep your audience from looking at your brand as just a giveaway or sweepstakes pusher. Keep a nice mix of posts going.
Provide Great Content
Once you’ve hooked them as Facebook fans, the key to keeping consumers engaged is to provide excellent content. It has to be relevant and of value – compelling to the audience, not self-serving to you. What exactly does that mean? Here are three approaches.
- Actively look and listen to what fans are saying, talking about and asking about. Use their questions as the basis for posts.
- Try different kinds of posts, and use Facebook analytics (they’re more fun than you might imagine!) to measure what people click on, talk about and react to. It can be as easy as saying, “Hey 14 people liked this post and 2 shared, but 1,400 liked this one and 140 shared!”
- Do some newsjacking: Monitor trending topics in the general news, and piggyback on to take advantage of the chatter. (Example: On Earth Day we showed the most beautiful places on the planet for a travel client, and engagement soared.)
Bonus Tip: Keep most posts between 60-70 to 100-125 characters to grab attention quickly in crowded newsfeeds. Short, shareable and engaging posts work best.
Use Quality Photography
By and large, Facebook has turned into a visual medium. So as much as the right words are important to creating great Facebook engagement with your content, it’s great pictures that really grab attention, generate comments and grow chatter. Facebook has become a visual medium: The photography you use to capture attention is critical. Here are three insights for choosing great photos for Facebook engagement:
- Use filters and photo editing tools such as Gimp, Photoscape and Paint.net to create the dramatic moods, looks and uniqueness you need to attract attention.
- Test and test, and see what your audience likes. (We always test different pictures and narrow down to the kinds that produce the best engagement before rolling out or promoting a post to a larger audience.)
- Want to procure some quality photography on the cheap? Hold photo contests and encourage fan submissions. The quality can be amazing, and it’s great engagement too, as fans check and re-check back in to see who won. Post pictures of as many entrants as you can, to keep engagement high and customers happy.
Bonus Tip: Secure appropriate rights to use the photography when it is submitted through a contest. That’s easy, but essential. In your entry form, just include language regarding the right to use the picture in company promotions.
Hosting a Facebook Event; Measuring Your Communications; Creating the Human Touch; and Asking Your Audience.