Three tips from Facebook’s head of e-commerce on how to turn your followers into customers

It’s hard to gauge the return on investment and effort for social media activities, especially when many social media consultants say the focus should be on building communities rather than on making a profit from your followers.

Facebook’s head of e-commerce, Stephen Scheeler, told StartupSmart there are a series of misconceptions that hold start-ups and small businesses back from making the most of their social media communities.

Focus on individuals rather than mass campaigns

The fact your community has a number on it doesn’t mean you should focus on how many followers or get caught up in planning how to reach all of them with each post.

“The way to think about your audience on Facebook is not as one big crowd, but as individuals. There are over 9 million Australians on Facebook every single day, but Facebook allows you to break this audience down so that you can focus on talking to the people that matter most to your business,” Scheeler says.

Understand Facebook is just one part of the media ecosystem

As your target customers move through a densely populated content landscape every day that probably includes other social media platforms, TV, radio and online news, you need to push yourself to genuinely capture people’s attention.

“It’s vital to think about your customers on Facebook not in isolation, but in terms of their total media journey throughout the day,” Scheeler says, adding their stats reveal Australians visit the platform on average 14 times a day, but often while watching TV or while doing another task.

Know the difference between community building and sales

Most business owners know firsthand that even excellent social media engagement doesn’t necessarily equal revenue. Being strategic about the kinds of content you’re sharing and balancing sales drivers with engagement boosters is key.

“A lot of small businesses make the mistake of thinking that good content equals a sales pitch. A non-stop flow of information about your products and services, a constant ‘advertisement’, however, is not the best way to engage potential customers,” Scheeler says.

While every start-up should include the occasional post about their offerings, smart marketers need to make sure they’re balancing it with interesting and useful information.

“The formula for building a following on Facebook is really no different than “traditional” marketing – it’s about creating a compelling story around your product, service and brand, and then connecting with your customers in a way that is relevant to them,” he says.

Here are Scheeler’s tips for boosting engagement on your page:

  1.  Say more with less: When posting Facebook content, keep updates to 90 characters or less. People are more likely to browse short updates, so it’s no surprise that posts following this rule see 60% more engagement.
  2. A picture says a thousand words: Engage fans visually by using photos. If you’re stuck on a subject, try snapping pictures of your latest products or personalise the page with pictures of yourself and your workplace. Posts with images receive 120% more engagement than those without.
  3. Be searchable: Make sure your business address, phone number and hours are up to date on Facebook. As more users start using Graph Search, a product that enables people to find information through the filter of their friends, having relevant and up-to-date information on your page will help your business be more discoverable.
  4. Find the right audience: When sharing a post, make sure you’re targeting the right people. Select the asterisk on the right side of your post to determine the audience receiving it by age and location. Do you own a local floral shop? Use Facebook’s targeting option to drive increased traffic around Valentine’s Day by targeting people in a relationship in your city.

This article first appeared on StartupSmart.

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