Social media: how to fit Facebook into your marketing plan

This blog is part of an ongoing series on major social media sites.

Many Australian businesses are incorporating social media  into their marketing mix, particularly the largest of social networks, Facebook . As a result, many small businesses and not-for-profits are facing the following question:      

“Will getting my own Facebook business page attract more customers/members or get more sales?”

Unlike a traditional advertising channel, which is a one-way communication mechanism, business pages on Facebook are multi-directional. For example, if you give the people who like your page interesting content, expert advice, fun games, surveys and prizes you might, in return, get insight into what they want, loyalty, some advocacy on your behalf but most of all (hopefully) you might get engagement – a relationship that builds up over repeated interactions between you and your customers. Your success in achieving this will, in part, rely on how well Facebook fits into your overall marketing plan.

Marketing Strategy

If your marketing plan includes engagement with your customers then Facebook might be a good idea. But remember, you want to start with a marketing plan, not a Facebook plan. There is a lot that goes into creating a marketing plan but several things you’ll need to ask yourself when you create a marketing plan are:

  • Who are my customers and how do they behave?
  • How will I target my product/services to them?
  • How will I maintain a good relationship with them?

You can find more information about marketing plans on the Business.gov.au website .

The next step is to target the appropriate social media for your business (Facebook is one option available), and then target your audience.

Social media statistics

According to The Australian Online Consumer Landscape , a recent report from Nielsen, there has been significant growth in the interaction between Australians and brands and organisations using social media.

The Nielsen report found that in 2011:

  • 57 per cent of Australians who went online ‘liked” a Facebook page belonging to a brand or organisation. This was up from 46 per cent in 2010.
  • 47 per cent of Australians who went online interacted with brands on social media platforms. This was up from 41 per cent in 2010.
  • 71 per cent of Australians who went online used social platforms to read the opinion of other consumers on brands, products or services.

There are more specific statistics for the use of Facebook in Australia. According to Checkfacebook.com , as at 8 May 2012, Facebook has over 10 million Australian users. Of these users:

  • 25.9 per cent are aged between 25 and 34
  • 23.8 per cent are aged 18 – 24
  • 38.6 per cent are 35 years old and older
  • 53.8 per cent are female
  • 46.2 per cent are male.

Facebook is not a sales platform but an engagement platform

Be prepared for your Facebook page to not be a great place to drive direct sales. Sucharita Mulpuru, author of the report Will facebook ever drive eCommerce , said, “Few people go there for shopping-related activities. You go to Facebook to find other people, not to find a product.”

How to engage

The benefits you receive from having a Facebook page will depend on how well you engage with users. Effective use of all social media requires the building of relationships and relationships need honesty, trust and patience. You have to be prepared to take negative comments in a positive and open manner. You want to part of the conversation, not control it.

If you want people to tell their friends good things about you, this is more likely to happen if you give them enjoyable content they will want to pass onto their friends. Not a sales pitch but, for example, useful information that will give you a good reputation in your chosen area or competitions that get fans excited.

Measuring success

The number of people who like your page doesn’t measure their engagement with the page and so you shouldn’t worry too much about that figure, even though that’s the measure that most people use .

In October last year, Facebook introduced a number of new ways to measure your Facebook activity, through the ‘Insights’ tab on the left hand side. One of these functions, called ‘Talking About This’ is intended to measure engagement. It tells you the number of people that have directly interacted with your page by:

  • liking your page or a post
  • commenting on your wall
  • sharing a post with a friend
  • mentioning the page in a post.

Other useful Facebook measurements are:

  • Reach: the number of people who have seen any content on your page. Reach also shows you the demographics of who you reached, including gender and location, as well as how you reached people, whether it is through organic, paid or viral channels.
  • Engaged users: the number of people who have clicked on your page.
  • Virality: this is a calculation of the number of people “talking about this” (the people who have interacted with your page) divided by the amount of people it reached (the number of people who saw it).

It’s important to remember that Facebook will only capture Insights data if your page is liked by more than 30 people, so if you can’t access Insights when you’re first building your page, don’t worry.

More tips on how to measure engagement can be found on the following pages:

by James, DBCDE

8 comments

  1. Social media is a one and best way to promote your business. Today everyone like to participate on facebook. and they gain more information for different thing on it. We just need to analyze the consumers who are they, what they want and what kind of product and services they want etc. all such information helps increase targeted customers

  2. If you are not posting interesting and engaging information, your customers are not going to read your posts. Remember to engage your customer in a conversation rather than selling to them. Your content should add value for your audience, and should not overtly sell anything, which makes people want to share it with their network as well.

  3. Thanks for sharing this interesting article. It is something we all have to take into consideration these days as it can be a vital tool for marketing, if done correctly.

    • As a small business we have greatly benefitted by utilising modern means of communication. It is important that business owners educate themselves to all of the possibilities that are available over social media.
      For our specific business needs we have utilised Facebook, Twitter and Blogger.

      If I could add one suggestion to other small businesses it would be to join Pinterest. Recently Pinterest has become the third biggest social networking site, so it could an especially useful resource for design based firms.

      As we are a retailer od Seiko time clocks, we also make sure that we utilise the social media pages from Seiko and our other partners.

      Admittedly this is only one slice of the pie, but it all adds up to help you run a successful business.

  4. It’s so important to remember that the internet community is becoming more and more discerning in terms of interesting content, and harsher on anything that even resembles spam or blatant SEO commentary. Has this attitude found it’s way into social network sites yet? I’d be interested to know how many people actively reject or ignore profiles that are obviously sales pitches (as you say here, James) – certainly I would think that cynical Australians would be the most skeptical of this kind of thing. What do you reckon?

  5. These days social media is the key to a succesful business. Facebook can not only be used for informing customers and keep them up to date with what’s going on it creates this ongoing relationship with the custoners. This is Marketing!

    Thanks for a great article!

  6. I have done a lot of reading on the use of Social Networking for small business, and the obvious benefits of building up business relationships, and increasing your customer base.

    But I want to know what are the best social media sites for Australian small businesses. Obviously Facebook is the biggest, but does that make it the best?
    Also does it matter what field your business is in, as to the social networking site that you join. For example – If you have lots of news in your business, but you would not have any pictures, should you just use Twitter, and not worry about Facebook.

    Also how much time do you use, say each week, for updating your social networking page?

    If you are able to reply with more information, then thanks in advance. For your information we are just a small Sydney gutter cleaning company, and we do not have any social networking pages, but we want to set one up.

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