Facebook Reaches out to SMB with “Fit”

Fran at the FB Fit SeminarSmall businesses are getting extra attention from Facebook these days. As the social network moves its users to a new blend of organic and paid content, Facebook users are becoming exposed to higher levels of paid advertising.

Individual users are unsure about how much advertising they want to see in the network. Businesses want to know more about using Facebook for advertising, but they have tons of questions. How does it work? How much should I spend? How do I measure success? Where do I get help?

These are all questions I get regularly from my clients; the result is that I conducted some very small experiments with Facebook ads, which you can see here and here .

The challenLight up question mark photoge for small businesses is that they already feel like they are wearing so many hats they do not feel capable of exploring or learning about one more thing.

Facebook is making an attempt to change that with its Facebook Fit program. This is a “road show” of seminars by Facebook itself. Earlier this summer, I attended a seminar in Austin that was geared to helping small businesses navigate advertising options and hear from similarly sized businesses on how they are using Facebook advertising.

The afternoon included a panel of small businesses who have successfully used Facebook advertising. The panel included the owner of a local restaurant and food truck; a local retail store with a robust e-commerce platform; a national jewelry brand; and a company with niche products for outdoors.

The method by which each of these businesses got involved in Facebook advertising ran the gamut. The restaurant owner started with a budget of 5 cents per day. Yes, cents. The national jewelry brand and the local retail store, on the other hand, had an integrated marketing budget and they slowly carved out dollars for Facebook advertising, based on their success with organic content, fan contributions and other factors.

They all seemed genuine. They all were realizing success with their marketing campaigns. They all believed in the benefits of Facebook advertising. Sure, Facebook invited them to the party and (by now) has a vested interest in their success.

As a group, though, their message was very clear.

Everyone on the business panel started out small. They tested. They learned from the tests. Then tried something new. They carved out budget for the ads. While the restaurant owner was spending $15 per month on ads, the retail store with the e-commerce platform was spending $500 a month once they integrated Facebook into their marketing campaign. It’s a smart approach.

Facebook claims that online ads have a 38% success rate, while ads on Facebook reach 89% success rate. This is not verified information, but is the benchmark they offered at the seminar.

How can you take advantage of this information so your business can begin exploring advertising on Facebook? There are a LOT of new features available to advertisers, some of which I have not yet tried, but will be testing in the coming weeks and months. Here is a rundown of some things available to small businesses.

Boosted Posts

This is where you take organic content and apply advertising dollars to it. You can target demographic and psychographic information, and the ad returns some good data when the “boost” money runs out.

Page Like Ads

Usually shows in the newsfeed, and users can rotate images seen and use same targeting as the boosted post. Also returns some good data.

Website Ad

Runs in the right-hand column and NOT in the newsfeed. Don’t have to have a Facebook page to link to it. You do have to be on Facebook to do Page Like Ads and Boosted Posts.

Conversion Measurement

This is newer than the ad types listed above, but allows you to track conversions (based on YOUR choices) after people view your ad. You set up the conversion pixel when you create the ad and it follows the visitor on the Web.

Lookalike Audience

Exactly as it sounds. You target your advertising based on page fans, website visitors or a database (see next section). Haven’t tried this yet, so I can’t offer any results.

Custom Audience

This option (in my mind) is troublesome. Here’s why. You take an existing list, like your email newsletter list, and upload it Facebook’s Power Editor feature. You can exclude current customers, target those “like” your current customers and other features. Facebook claims that it can’t actually see or reuse the lists you upload, but data security is a hot topic these days so I would have a lot of questions before I tried to use this feature.

There are many more features in the pipeline, including better mobile choices and better interface with applications.With Facebook Fit, the network is trying to be more responsive to small businesses. By their own admission, there are more than 30 million small businesses on their network, so it’s about time. They’ve even located their Small Business Division in Austin, which might mean more outreach opportunities.

I plan to test a new series of Page Like Ads and maybe even a lookalike audience and track conversions this fall. I would love to hear what you are trying on this network.

More ‘Pages To Watch’ Functionality on Facebook

Late last year, I shared my experience using the new Pages To Watch Function on Facebook, which was being rolled out to brand pages.

Some of its functionality has been enhanced in the last couple of weeks, so I thought it was time for an update.

New Location for Pages to Watch

The original location was above the page’s cover photo.  You can still find it there, but if you go to your Insights page, then click on Overview and scroll down, you will see a larger version of the graph, with some additional features.

There are three new functions which have been added. They are useful if you are benchmarking your Facebook page against competitors or against similar organizations who aren’t direct competitors.

  1. You can see increase in growth of fans on the pages you are watching through the Total Page Likes Column and the New Page Likes Column, which is expressed as a percentage. Green is up; red is down.
  2. A new feature I like is the column which shows number of posts. For some of the smaller brands for which I track competition, I used to visit each of their pages individually and count how many posts they were doing per week, and then average it. This saves me a lot of time.
  3. A new column to track Engagement  gives you an idea of how you are engaging with the fans on your page against your competition. You definitely want to be Brand #1 on this graph and NOT Brand #2.
Sample Graphic for a Brand Page Using Pages To Watch

Sample Graphic for a Brand Page Using Pages To Watch

There’s no doubt that Facebook will be trying to monetize this or work the data in some way to inspire you to purchase ads. So it’s anyone’s guess whether this feature evolves to be more or less useful.

BUT, if you are working with a client who is watching their competition in other facets of their marketing campaign, this graph does give you a snapshot of what’s happening. It is not in-depth by any means and it doesn’t give you any trends, but it can certainly spark discussions around your engagement level, your content strategy and channel integration.

Have you used this new chart? If so, I’d like to hear whether it’s useful to you and what features are most helpful.

How PR Pros Can Use ‘The Invisible Sale’

Book image

This week I read a new book called The Invisible Sale by Tom Martin, founder of Converse Digital and a longtime advertising agency professional. I first heard Tom speak earlier this year at the Solo PR Pro Summit in Atlanta, in which he talked about Painless Prospecting.  That presentation became part of his new book. Despite its name, I highly recommend that PR Pros read this book.

What is the focus of The Invisible Sale?

This book focuses on using your website in a more meaningful way to empower the “self-educating buyer” with helpful information, in the form of blog posts, white papers and videos, to name a fe. Over time, The Invisible Sale advocates building a digital powerhouse to prospect and qualify leads and clients. Tom has figured out a system for doing all of this while running his own agency.  He has used it for himself and for his clients.

I strongly believe it should be on the bookshelf of every public relations pro. It will change how you think about marketing your own business. It will change how you counsel your clients. Here’s why I liked this book.

Uniting Online Selling and Social Media

First of all, The Invisible Sale takes two disciplines within marketing — online selling and social media, and unites them into the useful compatible tools that they should be.  When I work with clients to develop social strategies, they always want to know if their efforts are paying off.  They want to know how this investment in time, money and resources will actually help their business.  Far too many digital strategists will say “don’t ask questions, just get in the game.”  Now, with Tom’s book, you have a blueprint for uniting and tracking these two disciplines together.

 Telling, Not Selling

The second thing I liked about Tom’s book is he talks about helping instead of selling.  This spirit of generosity –giving away what you know — is what attracted me to network in the digital world back when HARO was a daily email to a couple of hundred people and Twitter was where you could talk about issues, trends and new things. It is the main premise on which the Rackspace social media customer service team got its start under the leadership of Rob LeGesse. Now that there are millions more people “marketing” in the space, the spirit of generosity is often lost.   Tom pulls us back there.

It’s STILL About Your Network

The third thing about Tom’s book which I found most valuable is that he emphasizes over and over again this very salient point:  it’s about building a network.  Tom doesn’t suggest that you abandon traditional methods of developing new clients (at least not right away!)  and this is the key takeaway for public relations pros.  Tom advocates developing volumes of content for current and potential future customers with each piece targeted to their needs.

Why PR Pros Should Understand this Book

Here’s the real opportunity for PR pros:  we are perfectly positioned to develop this type of content. Many of us are the “writers” in an organization so turning the raw materials of our intellectual property into helpful materials is what we thrive on. If you are a solo PR Pro or part of an agency, you should be asking yourself:  What have we done for our clients that WE or THEY could benefit from? And then get to work using Tom’s system to build your business.

Tom’s got the business track record to back up everything in his book:  his Converse Digital firm has experienced double digit growth year over year during the worst recession of our time.  Need I say more?

What Does Your Facebook Insight Chart Say About You?

You are, of course, looking deeply at your Facebook insights to see how your fans are interacting with your organization, and analyzing what content resonates with your community. But you can make some instant observations by looking at that little chart which is nestled just above the cover photo and between the “New Likes” and “Page Tips” section.

If you are managing more than one page, this is a quick benchmark to see how your pages stack up against one another.

As a refresher, the purple circles along the bottom of the chart represents posting frequency by the page owner.  The green trend line above it represents actions taken by fans. This includes liking the page, or a post on the page, sharing something from the page or commenting on the page. The blue trend line above that is what Facebook calls Reach.  It’s a complicated Facebook formula but basically take your fans and multiply it by how many people they are connected with or have “friended” on Facebook and you get a sense of the magnitude.

Here are some samples from client pages I have managed with some observations I used to examine next steps with the client.

On a Roll

This chart shows an organization with frequent FB contributions

This organization is doing well with creating frequent posts and interacting with their fan base.  Their fan base is engaged.

Hiccup

Chart Showing Glitch in Facebook Activity

This organization may have been on a roll, but recently had some kind of hiccup with their content strategy. Go back to the date to see what suddenly changed and see if it can inform better decision-making in the future.

Abandoned

This chart shows that a page has been abandoned

Someone gave up on this page. It happens to many organizations. Usually it means the page owner got reassigned or too busy to keep the home fires burning.

Smokin’ Hot

This chart shows an organization that is doing powerful FB content

This organization is burning up the charts with strong content and continuous growth.

Burnout

This chart shows a FB page with infrequent postings

This little chart shows how easy it is to reverse the “on a roll” trend.

 

Have you seen a page like one of these? Did it help you make new decisions? I use this short exercise once or twice a month to see where I need to look next for insight.

Manage Your Next Website Redo Like a Boss!

Is your organization’s website redo managing you?

Has this happened to you? You decide to redo your website. You ask around, get a couple of quotes and next thing you know, you are in the middle of a project that’s going off the rails. It takes too long, you don’t know how to work with the web team who’s designing and developing the bloomin’ thing and you don’t have time in your day for all the details to get it going.

Organizations small and large have this problem.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Here are four things you can to do keep your project moving.

1. Make a detailed RFP

An RFP (Request for Proposal) outlines everything you need from the firm who will design and develop your site. The more detailed it is, the more accurate your quote will be. This helps to keep your organization on budget. First, you will want to express your organization’s mission and vision as well as goals for the re-design. Who is your target audience? If you know, it should be in the document. Do you have websites you admire for look and functionality? Put those as examples in the RFP.  Other items to add are website requirements, time frame, key players, creative direction. Tech Soup has a complete RFP library. It’s targeted to nonprofits, but is very useful in crafting one for your organization.

2. Get internal approvals first. And Always.

The biggest time suck in any web project are internal approvals.  You look at a design, give feedback to the designer, send feedback to the designer, then the boss or team changes its collective mind. This is a HUGE time waster and has the potential for driving up costs to you and to the web firm.  The best thing you can do for your web firm is secure all internal approvals first, so everything you send to them is final.

3. Appoint a Strong Project Manager

It might be a member of your team. Or it might be an independent consultant.  It should NOT be someone at the web firm.  They are already managing the design and development. A project manager organizes the flow of copy, tracks all the approvals and the job flow. She makes sure photos are sent, organizes to shoot new ones, tracks down the details to keep the project moving. Without a strong project manager, deadlines can be missed and it is easy for the project to go off the rails.

4. Spend More Time on Content than on Design.

Don’t get me wrong. I love good design. But content —  the text, photos, forms and links on your pages — are what will bring people back to your site time and time again. Strong, frequently-changed content, will make search engines happy and make your page views soar. If you are really smart, you already have a content strategy for your web presence AND you know that even though your web redesign is done, it’s truly never done. It’s a dynamic hub and should be updated as often as you can.  Daily or weekly is best, but monthly can work for smaller organizations.  It’s best to bring in your content team as you are kicking off the project, not when design is complete and you are close to launch.

So what’s the worst that can happen?  The timeline can stretch out, turning that three month project into a year-long nightmare.  The budget can overrun because of delays and in the end, no one seems happy.

On the other hand, if you combine a strong RFP and project manager, with a content strategy and a great web firm, you completely change the game.