There was a time, not long ago, when Facebook marketing was like the social media wild west for anyone wanting to market their company or product. It was free and open and you could do what you wanted with it. Those of us who jumped on it early, the pioneers and settlers on Facebook, often found it a lonely and sparse place at times-much like the early settlers of the west. But we saw some awesome potential. See that guy over there? You could just talk to him… no questions asked, just some good old-fashioned relationship building: one potential customer at a time. It went on like that for awhile. Things might have been a little quiet, but soon enough the numbers were growing. And growing. And growing.
Before long Facebook was everywhere and everyone was on it. Last month Facebook hit 1 billion users; with that huge growth our vast and open wild west has become a bustling and crowded metropolis filled with rules and regulations and people trying to carve out a little bit of their own space. Oh sure, the potential is still there-with so many more people to reach, how could it not be? However, the competition is also there and others just might be better at reaching your customers than you are.
The biggest change to Facebook marketing hasn’t been the growth in people though. Heck, 200 million people is basically just as good as 1 billion people to most small businesses. No, the biggest change has been Facebook itself. Where we once had a lowly old sheriff to patrol our Facebook wild west we now have a massive new world order government, an Orwellian style sanctioning body that would prefer for you to pay for every view you get on Facebook. My, how times have changed. So what’s a small business to do?
There are Facebook marketing best practices. If you Google them you will find what’s posted officially by Facebook as well as some independent studies. Times on the world’s number one social network are changing fast and a lot of the information you can find is downright archaic just six short months after the web article is posted; but there is hope. Certain rules will always win out because, in the end, Facebook is a tool built by humans for bringing humans together and if Facebook creates a bad experience for the majority of its users it will lose all its value. I believe Facebook is still trying to figure out the perfect balance between generating as much profit possible from its corporate partners to maintaining an overall positive experience for its users. Even as the rules change this fact will always remain the same. With this in mind, here are my two golden rules for Facebook marketing success:
1. Edgerank Exists: Don’t Ignore It
Edgerank is Facebook’s algorithm that determines who sees your posts and when. Everyone is subjected to it. Facebook claims that they couldn’t possibly show your post to everyone who liked it. This is a lie. You can pay them and they’ll show it to even more people than the amount of likes your page has. I’m not sure why this is the stance they’ve taken but it is. So to get your message out there to as many people as possible you need to post with edgerank in mind. The problem is that Facebook won’t tell you how it works, but it’s really not as complicated as it seems. Conduct your own comparison test. Post something that will get an immediate reaction out of people and see how many more people “saw” your post. Then post just a normal one of your updates. Facebook gives you this nice stat right on the page and it’s almost in real time for the page administrator. If you post something that catches fire and garners engagement right off the bat, edgerank will determine you’ve posted something important and automatically show it to more people. So you’ve got to work the system to get your posts seen by as many people as possible. Of course what you post that reacts with your likers on Facebook will vary depending on what type of audience or customer base your business page attracts. Which leads me to my golden rule number two…
2. Facebook is a Social Network
You already knew this right? But do you treat it like one? See, Facebook, like all other social networks, rewards users who are the most social. Do you post on your business page regularly? Have you liked other products and businesses and commented on their pages? Do you post content that is “social” and not just sales oriented? This is must for Facebook; start sharing your content with as many people as possible.
Just like with anything, as Facebook evolves your marketing practices on it must evolve as well. It started as the wild west and has grown to a thriving metropolis filled with people and competition. Will it eventually evolve to a marketing opportunity utopia? Only time will tell, but in the meantime there’s still plenty of opportunity there to get your brand out there as effectively as possible.
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