Many small businesses spend time on Facebook without realizing what they perceive to be a good return on their investment. On the other hand, there are many other small businesses who are afraid to invest more resources into the platform fearing that it will be a waste of time. While there’s no lack of Facebook marketing advice in the blogosphere, there’s no better person to provide that advice than a company that has been successful at using Facebook as its primary marketing channel. As you will see below, it turns out that with a step by step approach that they utilized, you too can turn your Facebook page into a low-cost marketing channel that delivers results.
ProfileTree has done just that. As a small business advertising platform, they wanted to reach their target market as “socially” as possible. After their Beta website launched on March of 2012, they turned their attention toward Facebook advertising.
“Like most people starting out using the mediums for marketing, we were very ineffective,” said Ciaran Connolly, co-founder of ProfileTree. After trying a number of different strategies to build their brand on social media, they narrowed their focus and started getting better results.
Adopt the Facebook Page Golden Rule
“We got lucky and started to see things improve on the page pretty quick when we focused on it. We saw visits to our site increase from Facebook and felt if we could continue to focus on this – we could improve it,” said Connolly.
They initially posted random information and advertising links for ProfileTree on roughly a weekly basis. This didn’t produce the results that they were looking for, so they prepared a marketing strategy by asking some very specific questions.
You can use these same questions to create your own Facebook strategy.
- What do we want from our Facebook Page as a business?
- What do people want from our page?
- How do we get the two of them to meet?
The ProfileTree team wanted brand building and awareness through shares, rather than likes. Their customers wanted to be promoted on their page, or see something that is interesting.
“As we got deeper in our testing, we concluded that most people still use Facebook for Friends, Fun and Family,” Connolly shared, “Direct marketing messages are out. You have to share something that people may actually enjoy, like and maybe share with others.”
From there, they developed a “golden rule:”
“The page is not about us – it’s about our customers!”
As a result of this rule, they post customer profiles as often as possible. They also add in interviews from their users to their page with great photos. They promote links to their user’s profiles, rather than their own website’s landing pages. And the promoted user profiles are converting more often.
On certain days of the week, ProfileTree gets 50% of their traffic from Facebook.
You too can get similar results by following their keys for great small business Facebook pages:
Six Keys to Small Business Social Media Marketing Success on Facebook
Once ProfileTree discovered their golden rule, they started testing other elements of their Facebook marketing.
“We seem to have ‘a ha’ moments every two to three days when we spot something that was not working and switch to something new,” shares Connolly.
Here are their top six tried and true keys for Facebook success:
- Stop Using Third Party Sites for Posting
One of the first big finds of ProfileTree’s research was the difference between directly posted updates and updates to Facebook through a third party tool. At the time of their research, Facebook definitely favored direct upload, and even reduced the picture size of images posted through a separate tool (read this article for an update on the situation and more background information).
After noticing this tendency, the ProfileTree team vowed to only post directly to their Facebook page. They manually post their updates and select images carefully.
- Use a Less is More Approach for Posting
After testing, ProfileTree found that their most popular posts were “interesting and sharable.” They try to keep the text of their posts focused and select the very best images.
Posting directly to Facebook maximizes the size of their images and makes them very noticeable on their fans’ newsfeeds. Then they rewrite their updates multiple times before posting to check for spelling, grammar and conciseness.
“We ‘practice publish’ everything before posting for real. To do this, pick a random location in the world and language and post to this setting. This way we see what the post looks like in our News Feed and on the page – we catch most spelling errors, spacing and can get the post right,” shares Connolly.
- Engage With Every Customer
This is an area where ProfileTree spends a lot of time. They respond to all of the people that interact on their page, and gain extra likes, comments and shares from this.
“Imagine a customer comes into your shop and says something to you – and there is silence. What happens next? The customer is likely to leave. If someone comes to our page and talks to us – we want to reply, chat and engage,” shares Connolly.
Connolly acknowledges that it takes time, and is sometimes difficult to do. It can sometimes take a month to get back to some fans, but they make sure to get it done. They have over 2,700 comments on their page – over 12,500 likes on their posts and almost 7,000 shares over the past few months.
“Most fans engage with your posts in their News Feed. They do not come to your page! By replying to their comments – the fan will see the “red world” notification at the top of their personal Facebook. They will click on this to see what it is. A reply will bring fans physically to your Facebook page!” says Connolly.
“So they commented originally – and your reply brings them back to your page…chances are they will read a few more comments, have a look around – maybe like something else – comment again and leave. Talk to people who talk to you,” he said.
- Keep the Focus on Your Customers
ProfileTree allows comments, posting and all other fan activities on their official page. They have increased their Facebook engagement levels from visitors by allowing them to use their page.
“Our page is for our fan’s page – so we let them use it. They comment on our Timeline and advertise their own pages – we love that! We have people trying to achieve a milestone of maybe 500 likes – posting as they know our page has very high traffic, we have people posting asking about setting up a website – or how to improve their pages – it’s amazing,” says Connolly.
“We love the comments that are made on our page – we have some of the best fans out there who engage with us and are brilliant in how they support us and have fun on our page.”
- Set a Goal
The ProfileTree team stays focused by having a goal. They decided to measure what they wanted from every post. Their goal is to have at least 10% of those that see a post like it, and 10% share. They consider anything below this to be a disaster.
“We do have posts that go beyond 20% likes and shares – these we like, a lot! So if 200 people see a post on our page – we hope that more than 20 people will like it and 20 people will share it,” says Connolly.
- Keep Experimenting
ProfileTree was able to find the right mixture of types of posts, timing of posts and more for their ideal clients through testing.
“These are things we feel work for us, but we could be wrong. You can do better. Your fans may be totally different from ours – but by constant testing of what you are doing, you will have your own “Ah Ha” moments,” advises Connolly.
For example, by posting at random times, ProfileTree was able to find their best times for their audience. They’ve discovered that if they post at certain times, they will be more likely to get likes and shares on their posts.
They also found that photos and updates work best for their audience. They don’t post videos or polls on their page, which many may say are essential for Facebook pages.
“We try to pick the best images and posts that relate to our industry – yet keep it fun and interesting. We fail on this at least 3 or 4 times a week – but are learning every day!” says Connolly.
Final Tips for Success
ProfileTree has been able to build traffic through their Facebook page, but it also functions as part of their customer service approach. They answer more customer service queries through Facebook than all of their other mediums, including their website.
“Our fans know we are there – or not far away,” said Connolly. “We know this is tough for many small businesses, but in our view there are hundreds of social networks out there and we decided to focus on Facebook. The return is our brand is getting spread across the web – we are achieving what we wanted to do with our basic Facebook page and more,” he added.
Facebook has been an ever increasing source of customers for ProfileTree, and it can do the same for your company too. How are you going to use this advice to adjust your Facebook marketing approach? Any other advice to add on to the above? Please chime in!