What Facebook Wants Small Business to Know about Advertising

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Last week, I attended a “Boost Your Business” workshop sponsored by Facebook. It’s the second time I’ve attended a Facebook-sponsored seminar since they moved their SMB division to Austin.

For all the criticism about this social network and all the changes that cause upheaval for organizations trying to navigate Facebook’s changing landscape, you have to give them credit for trying. By Facebook’s own admission, small businesses in the US are their real opportunity to grow revenues.

Think about it for a minute. You are a brand new business. You have a limited budget. Where else could you start to reach your customers with an investment of $25? You certainly can’t touch the traditional advertising outlets of print, radio and television unless you’re prepared to spend $10,000 or more PER MONTH. Digital ad networks won’t even talk to you unless you’re prepared to spend significantly over time.

Small businesses can afford to advertise on Facebook and they can be successful doing it.

Here are some key points made by the Facebook team during the seminar.

  • Facebook has 1 billion users on mobile daily. DAILY. No matter how small your small business, chances are a key segment of your potential customer universe is on this platform.
  • 1 out of 5 minutes spend on mobile devices is either on Facebook or Instagram. Since Facebook has integrated the advertising choices to include advertising on Instagram, this is a great way to expand your advertising audience, especially if you have great visuals.
  • Once a day is key to engagement. The Facebook SMB team shared that small businesses who post a minimum of 3-5 posts a week will have the best success. In fact, they shared that if you are posting more than once per day, you are actually stealing from your own engagement because you’re not getting the full benefit of the 24 hours of life in a post. (What I WISH they had shared was the average page size for which this statistic is valid).

The typical small business owner wears many hats and choosing and placing advertising is just one more burden. While the process can seem daunting, here are four takeaways from the Facebook seminar that can turn a burden into an opportunity.

  • Boosted posts are the most elementary way to begin advertising. However, they lack the precision of more targeted ads and are often more costly per “click.” Smart small businesses revise and refine targets over time.
  • Choose one objective for your campaign – it could be page likes, website visits or purchases; then target your audience and the amount you will spend to reach them.
  • Test, test, test. If an ad is not performing as you had hoped. Start over. Try a different image, a different target, a different amount.
  • Change your ad frequently. The Facebook team recommends that ads should be changed every 3-4 weeks.

The good news for small business owners is that Facebook continues to develop resources to assist this sector. Here are a few:

  • In the Facebook Ads Manager window, the help tab pulls up the most commonly asked questions as you can see from the graphic here.

help screen for FB

The biggest piece of advice from the Facebook team: set it and forget it is NOT an option.

How has your advertising experience been on Facebook?

Compare the Top 8 Social Media Networks

Compare 8 Social Media Networks with downloadable PDF  chart Don’t you wish it was easier to compare social media networks side-by-side? You know, a really cool chart to summarize what’s going on in the network, so you can answer client questions more easily or find that key statistic to drop into your presentation.

Keeping up with the news of each network is tough, even for communicators working in this area.  So I created  this side-by-side chart to compare the top 8 social media networks so I can answer the questions my clients ask more quickly and without duplicating my research string over and over again.

I compared Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat, Periscope and Instagram and looked at 6 factors: network size, activity, devices and habits, cool facts, latest move and ownership.

Each network is so different. Sometimes it’s really hard to compare them. Size is important when you are counseling clients on using social media resources, but some networks may not report their size. The way social networks report their Activity can also be confusing, but it’s my hope that the activity metric gives an indication of what’s going on there. For the Devices and Habits category, I had been watching the switch to mobile use for my clients, but now that some of our biggest networks are on mobile only — like Snapchat and Periscope– the category had to change slightly.  The Latest Move section allows me to look at the business side of the network and how these networks are changing to meet the needs of their users. Ownership is an ongoing concern for me as a media watcher.  Who owns what is important and as you can see from the chart, the ownership strings are complicated.   Who doesn’t love a Cool Fact to share with their clients?

Comparing the Top 8 Social Media Networks Chart

Using 36 different sources, I gathered the information into this chart, which isn’t very readable here. So I’ve provided a download link below, so you can look at it more closely. Use it for your business or nonprofit, or maybe to win a trivia contest, but PLEASE, if and when you share it, please note and credit the sources of information in the accompanying citation sheet.

Social networks are growing and changing so quickly, it’s hard to keep up. Having a comparison chart helps me talk to clients about their mix of social channels. Maybe it will help you too.

What would you like to see on this chart the next time I update it?

Download the Social Media State of the Networks Comparison Chart. 

How To Handle Negative and Irrelevant Comments on Facebook

Image of keyboard with finger on delete Should you ever hide Facebook posts?

When you are managing Facebook pages, it is likely you will have to answer this question. In the process of managing Facebook pages for numerous organizations, this is a common occurrence. Some comments should be ignored. Some comments deserve a response. Others should be hidden or deleted.  What should you do? Here are four comment types from my channel management experience and potential actions you can take to handle on your company pages.

Comment Type Number 1: Negative

This type of comment is critical or negative but is relevant to the reputation of the organization. It may involve an unhappy customer or a comment about a policy or process of the company. For this type of comment, it’s important to do three things, verify, escalate, resolve.

First, verify that the comment comes from a real person or real organization by clicking through to the commenters’ Facebook profile.  If it appears real, the next step would be to escalate to your client or internal management team to develop an answer.  Finally, create and post the response.

Comment Type Number 2: Irrelevant

This type of comment is also critical of the organization but is different in that it is irrelevant to the post.  This requires a more subtle answer.  If you respond too quickly or with a formal statement, you might uncover a bully or troll waiting to engage.  Monitoring additional comments for a few hours is the first line of defense. If you have loyal and engaged fans on that page, they might chime in and redirect the conversation.

If that doesn’t happen, hide the comment — only the commenter and their friends see it. We once hid a comment from somebody’s mom who made a favorable comment about her daughter’s photo appearing there and then kept asking where all the “other people” were coming from.  She was clearly new to Facebook, so we hid it to keep the embarrassment to a minimum.

To consider deleting the post or comment takes a little more time and thought.  If it’s a “drive-by” commenter that may or may not return, we sometimes wait 48-72 hours and if no further action comes from this type of commenter, we then consider deleting it.

Comment Type Number 3: Unreasonable

This type of comment is often rude and inflamed. It might go right up to the brink of Comment Type Number 4 below. In this scenario, we spend extra time monitoring the post and other comments on it to see the progression of the conversation. There are three different actions you can take:  hide the comment, delete the post and ban the user. The strategy leading up to the actions on this type of comment are similar to that for irrelevant comments.

Comment Type Number 4: Violates Policy

Whether it’s a violation of Facebook’s terms of service or a violation of YOUR social media policy, this type of comment includes name-calling or swearing. It can also be a post in which another person or page tries to sell something on your page. This is unacceptable for many company pages and should be deleted.  If the post or comment has gotten widespread views before it’s been deleted, it might merit an explanation about why it was removed. This will enhance the company’s engagement and integrity with  fans, but if it’s disgusting or pornographic, no explanation should be necessary and deleting and banning the user makes the channel managers’ job easier as these types of posters tend to be repeat offenders.

Smart channel managers know that managing your Facebook community includes making judgement calls on how to respond to comments by a wide variety of fans.  Next time you get a comment that is critical, irrelevant, unreasonable or is a clear violation of policy, try these ideas.  Let us know how it worked by leaving a comment.

 

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.

When Should I Post on Facebook – The DIY Version

This is one of the most frequently asked questions by my clients.  And one for which many seem to want a simple answer, like 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

A year ago, some social media consultants firmly stated that 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. was the ideal time to post on Facebook. Some even have specific posting rules, like this blog post which urges you to “post on the 9s” – 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

The real answer used to be far more complicated for small organizations who are managing Facebook pages without the benefit of scheduling and analysis tools, but now you can do it yourself and, if you take some time to test and analyze, can find out which posts get the best results when your fans are online.

This is easier now with one of the enhancements on your Facebook Insights for Company Pages.  If you have a Company Page with 50 or more fans, you can see a chart like the one below by going to View Insights, then click on the Posts tab.

Example 1: New Fan Page

facebookchartsmallpage

This chart shows a new page which has just reached 50 fans.  It tells you which day of the week most of its fans are online and the second part of the graph shows the times which they are online.  If you hover over a day of the week, you get an additional line of information which tells you the activity for that specific day.  For this little page, the times of the week when most of the fans are online are:

Monday, 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Wednesday, noon and 3-6 p.m.

Friday, 3-6 p.m.

Example 2: Established Company Page

facebookchartlargepage

The second chart shows a larger page with more than 1,000 fans. For this page, the most number of fans are online during these days and times:

Wednesday, 4 – 9 p.m.

Friday, 3 – 9 p.m.

Saturday, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

These two pages have no “optimum posting times” in common. That’s why the Insights are so valuable. So if you are a doing your social media campaigns without benefit of fancy tools, try posting during those times and see if you are getting a better reach.  To really test your theory, drop the stats for each post into a spreadsheet and you might even narrow it down further. But keep in mind that optimum posting times are not set in stone. The best day of the week or time of day can change from one month to the next. So what is the best time to post on YOUR Facebook page?