How Your Small Business Can Thrive
Table of Contents
Over 2 billion people use Facebook every month, making it the most popular social media platform in the world.
The average Facebook user spends one hour a day on the site. Which seems like a ton of time to grab someone’s attention.
If you have any friends or fans, you’re automatically fighting to stand out from the thousands of posts an average Facebook user could see. On top of that, Facebook assigns mysterious “ranks” to every single post, so Facebook users see only a few specific posts at a time in their News Feed.
On top of even THAT, Facebook continues to nudge business Pages towards paid content and paid advertising as the primary means to get seen.
As an entrepreneur, you may be asking yourself: Can I still use Facebook to bring in leads, opportunities, and sales for my small business?
And it doesn’t matter what type of small business–B2B, bootstrapped SaaS, and others alike. While Facebook’s focus on targeted, paid advertising and paid content is the real deal, thankfully it’s not the only way to get your posts seen by your audience!
For a start, Facebook continues to offer free tools to help you accomplish your marketing goals without resorting to ad spending – like access to your detailed analytics and straight-from-the-horse’s-mouth marketing tactics from their small business blog. But the best way to make the most of your marketing time on Facebook is the same as it’s always been: through fresh, relevant, helpful content. (And resharing it to boost your organic reach!)
This guide will address the following most common questions Edgar’s social media experts get about Facebook content marketing:
- What should I post and when?
- How can I optimize my content?
- What can I do to grab the attention of the average Facebook user?
- Should I ever use paid ads?
Keep reading for answers to these and other beyond-the-basics Facebook marketing questions and tactics to optimize your Facebook reach!
The old Facebook quantity over quality question…
This is the question that brings out all the strong opinions – and with good reason! Facebook users have been trying to crack the code of the News Feed for years.
But it turns out there’s a foundational Facebook content mantra that successful marketers use every single day:
Facebook posts should be interesting, helpful, real, and – most importantly – shareable.
If that seems a little too obvious, you’re right – this is only the beginning! This basic mantra doesn’t address what your posts should be, or how to make them unique, or how to give them that special sauce that makes your fans click, comment, and share.
Thankfully for you, dear reader, our Facebook experts have put together answers to the most common questions they get about all things related to creating amazing Facebook content. Read on!
What the heck should I post on Facebook?
Long story short: you should be sharing links to your website on Facebook. Naturally, the easiest way to do this is by blogging. If you’re a small business owner, chances are you’ve been blogging for a long time and have a ton of content built up.
(If not, it’s okay to add some of your favorite articles and links with your own “editorializing” – adding your thoughts or opinions about the link when you post.)
Producing consistently useful and sharable articles takes some planning ahead. We use Edgar, naturally, to schedule our posts for Facebook and across social media, but once you get a good backlog of evergreen articles you can post them again and again – mixed with more timely, interactive posts to keep your Facebook business Page fresh and relevant to your fans.
Not sure what to write?
Have we got an eBook for you!
Need more blogging tips?
Our social media experts can help:
How often should a Facebook post go out?
You should be actively sharing links to content from your website via Facebook status updates, as often as you post them.
Facebook does impose limits on how often you can post, but as for all their algorithms, Facebook doesn’t specify post frequency thresholds. In general, however, it’s a good idea not to “spam” your followers by posting the same thing over and over again, or posting in very short intervals of time (say, every few minutes).
All that said, we mentioned up top that the average Facebook user spends just an hour on the site every week. And every post is pitted against the posts of every other page or account a single fan or customer follows – making the odds of any one person seeing any one of your posts starts to decrease exponentially.
Everything from the times of day when you post to the types of content you share can make an enormous impact. To determine the best time or how often a post should go out, then, check in on your Facebook Insights to see how content you’re sharing is performing – and use that data to determine the ideal mix of time and frequency for your fans.
Is there an ideal mix of promotional vs. other types of content?
The most important thing is to have a mix. Most marketers will tell you an 80/20 mix of informative/promotional content is ideal. So for every four informational posts, one blatant promo post is fine – especially if you’re posting something that encourages fan participation – like a giveaway or opinion poll.
Sharing your accomplishments, too, is a type of promotional content that can work really well with fans and doesn’t get stale as quickly as “SAVE 20% TODAY ONLY!” type posts. When done sparingly, sharing your accomplishments shows your customers that you’re a rock star and it shows your fans how to rock.
When it comes to promo offers, specials, sales, or similar content, however, think about what things like that have gotten you to click. Chances are what you responded to goes back to the Facebook post formula that works best for every type of post: Make it interesting, helpful, real, and shareable.
To make it easiest for people to share your posts themselves, don’t forget to put a Facebook share button on your blog and your website!
Why aren’t people seeing my posts?
Why are Facebook algorithms such a big deal?
Nobody’s 100% sure how Facebook’s algorithms work – they’re a very, very closely guarded secret.
But that doesn’t mean Facebook hasn’t given us lots of clues.
Basically, whenever you “like” or share a “reaction” to a post or a page, Facebook takes that into account whenever it loads up for you. Every “like” and “reaction” tells Facebook’s algorithm what you like or don’t like, and its algorithm springs into action.
There are likely thousands of what are called “weight factors” to consider, tailored for each one of Facebook’s 2 billion members. (More on what these terms mean in a sec.)
Every time you open Facebook, the algorithms take into consideration everything that you share, what your friends and people/pages you follow share, how you react to those things, how your friends react, and so on – and it serves up a bespoke News Feed, just for you, and for each of your fans.
In short: The better you understand how Facebook decides who sees your updates, the more strategic you can be.
The components of Facebook algorithms
“Affinity,” “weight,” and “time decay” are aspects of an algorithm that work together to determine which users will see your post on their timeline.
Let’s break it down a bit more:
A Facebook user’s “affinity” with your page depends on how often and in what ways they interact with you. The more a user likes, shares, clicks, and comments on your page posts, the more of you and your business they’ll see in their Facebook timeline.
Weight refers to the value of a post based on what kind of post it is. For example, posts that include photos, links, and videos may have a higher weight than those that don’t. And if that weren’t hard enough to keep track of alone, weight increases the more users interact with a post. So, a post without a photo that got a bunch of likes or comments might be weighted more heavily than a photo post with no engagement at all.
Facebook posts lose value with age. The longer your post has been active, the less frequently it’ll show up in the Feeds of people who’ve liked your business’ page. (That’s why resharing content can be such a powerful tool in your Facebook marketing toolbox!)
How to be strategic with your content when faced with an algorithm
Facebook serves up not only the content you like best, but what its algorithms think you will like. That goes for your fans, too.
While the basic components of the algorithms remain the same, the algorithms themselves will change and readjust over time. That’s a big reason why businesses don’t feel like Facebook is a reliable way to drive organic traffic!
Understanding your fans and what content they like – and what content they interact with most – and then serving up that content is the genesis of the “high quality” content bar.
So it’s incredibly important to become familiar with your Page Insights, and ask yourself these important questions before you post:
- Are there trends in when your status updates get the most engagement or reach?
- Do certain types of updates, or updates about certain subjects, perform better than others?
- Is what you’re posting affecting how many people see what you’re sharing, both now and in the future?
- Would people want to share your update with their friends or recommend it to others?
Facebook’s definition of “high quality” content can be extremely strict – especially as they combat hoax news stories. Learn more here:
“Facebook’s Clickbait Filter Means Your Headlines Are More Important Than Ever.“
How can I get more views on my business’ Facebook posts?
Experimenting with promoted posts can have big benefits, but most Page posts in a person’s Feed are organic. (Curated by Facebook’s algorithms, natch – not organic from Whole Foods!)
In fact, the more Pages a person likes overall, the likelier it is that the Page posts they see are organic ones.
So before you shell out cash for ads or spend money to promote your posts, here are some things you can do to optimize the way you use your Facebook Page to get more eyeballs on your content for free.
Share irresistible content with your fans
Easier said than done, of course, but people can tell when you’ve put thought into a post and when you haven’t. Posts with engaging and relevant content hold more “weight,” so share stuff that grabs attention and triggers people to share and comment.
Add images to every. single. post.
Choosing an eye-catching featured image to go with your update can have a huge impact on shareability.
Encourage fans to interact with your posts!
Because your “affinity” depends on creating a relationship with fans, encouraging them to like, comment, and share your posts increases the odds that they’ll do just that! The more likes you have, the more chances you have to increase “affinity” with each individual user.
Respond to Facebook Messenger inquiries faster
You may notice that your favorite business Pages show visitors how quickly the company responds to inquiries via Messenger. It turns out that responding to Facebook messages in a timely manner can increase your affinity with users – plus it’s just a nice thing to do!
Post questions to get fans talking!
Questions can be related to your general industry or to popular topics. An example of an industry-focused question might be, “If you could only ask a life coach one question for free, what would it be?” or “What’s an app most people haven’t heard of that you love?” These questions spark creativity and personal opinions, which usually help get conversations started.
Add a call to action to your posts
Need to light a (virtual) fire under your audience? A simple prompt at the end of a post can be the spark you need! Don’t hesitate to tell your fans to like, share, and comment on your posts.
Most of all… post and post often!
There’s no way of keeping your posts from dying off, but by posting several times a day you stay in your fans’ Feeds without having to worry too much about that pesky “time decay” eating up all your good Facebook karma.
How do I build a more engaged fanbase on Facebook?
We’ve spent a lot of time analyzing Facebook marketing tactics. (Just click that dropdown menu and select “Facebook Marketing” to see what we mean.)
And while there are many ways to get likes for your business Page – including creating and paying for ads – before you shell out your hard-earned cash, our experts came up with a three-step Facebook Content Marketing Overview to help you get people interested in your Page for free:
Here’s how to build Facebook posts that people will click on
Make your Facebook page into a destination on its own
Facebook wants you to remember that there’s more to life than the News Feed. So make your page a fun place to visit by encouraging your fans to interact on your Page. That means YOU have to jump in and engage with them, too!
Regularly ask questions, share photos, and tell stories. Like and comment on other Pages as your Page. And don’t forget to customize your Page, too! There are tons of layout options that you can pick and choose from to add a little flair to your business’ Facebook presence!
Customize your link previews for more clickable updates
Do your links look like this?
We wouldn’t want to click on that, and we bet you wouldn’t either!
Good custom link previews are critical to gaining your audience’s trust. If your links are sensationalist, clickbait-y, or boring (like the example above) people are just going to stop clicking. Take the time to create better, more thoughtful posts with a personal touch:
Customizing your link previews and writing stronger updates makes it a lot easier to grab someone’s attention – here’s how to write one that’s downright irresistible:
- Write a headline that tells the story, but not the WHOLE story. Give enough details for the reader to understand what to expect, but don’t be a deliberate tease – Facebook can actually detect clickbait-style headlines automatically, and you could be penalized for writing them. (If you get stuck, check out our guide on how to write awesome headlines here.)
- Write a link description that contextualizes the headline. (They don’t call this a “link preview” for nothing!) You have a limited amount of room to work with, so keep it snappy. If you don’t want to edit your link description using your blogging platform, a social media scheduling tool like Edgar will allow you to do it right there in the app.
- Choose an eye-catching featured image to go with your update. Images can have a huge impact on shareability, so you should have plenty to choose from right there in the blog post you wrote! (And again, a tool like Edgar will allow you to upload one when you’re scheduling your status update, if you prefer.)
- Write a status update to go with your link! This text appears before your link preview, so it’s the perfect place to introduce or react to the information you’re sharing. Facebook judges your “authenticity” by many metrics, but this is a big one.
And don’t forget to make your Facebook link previews as effective as possible for both desktop and mobile!
Automate your Facebook posting
Finally, we recommend using automated social media tools like Edgar to schedule status updates. Automating your posting is a “hack” that larger companies use so that any time somebody reaches their Page, they’ll be greeted with new content – automatically.
This doesn’t mean you never have to post again, or that you don’t have to interact with people on your Page! All social media automation does is make it so you don’t have to constantly check on your Facebook Page. Just be sure to post different types of content, and don’t always post the same link or update over and over with nothing else in between!
This is why we designed Edgar so that you can specify which types of updates get posted at which times, and so that you can shuffle the updates in any given category. This is how big brands recycle their content, so Edgar does it for you!
How do I make the most out of Facebook Insights?
Facebook makes it incredibly easy for people to see their Page’s marketing analytics. The instant you log in (if you ever log out), you’re treated to an “at-a-glance” snapshot of your Page’s basic metrics: post reach, website clicks, and signups.
Chances are you’re also very familiar with the in-depth user data, called Page Insights, that gives you information on the gender, age, and location of who is looking at your Page – as well as which types of status updates are the most popular.
You probably already used Page Insights and Audience Insights information to create better content. Here are three more ways you take your content marketing to the next level by leveraging the different types of “Insights” data available.
Download and take a deep dive into your Page, post, or video data
Facebook lets you download entire Excel files of Page Insights data and analytics for your Page, every post, and every video you’ve shared – for free.
You can select a date range, which data you want to look at, and you can adjust the layout of the spreadsheet so you can see exactly the information that’s most important, first.
From your desktop, simply click on “Insights.” On the “Overview” tab, click “Export Data”, select the data type you want to see (plus the date range), and then click on the “Export Data” button.
For step-by-step instructions on how to analyze your stats, our friends at Social Media Examiner have all the deets!
Keep an eye on macro and micro trends using Facebook IQ
There are many websites that claim to monitor consumer trends, but only Facebook has nearly 2 billion monthly active users – the most of any social media platform. There’s no bigger sample size across almost every conceivable demographic.
Facebook analyzes their aggregated and anonymized user data – from both Facebook and Instagram – to produce these trends, which are part of what they call Facebook IQ.
At the Facebook IQ site, you’re offered free access to research by industry, holiday and event trends, and demographic research from People Insights that includes global and hyper-local trends.
On Facebook IQ, you can also get a look at Vertical Insights (consumer trends sorted by industry), or you can peep Conversations – which is a deeper dive into what people are talking about on Facebook, aimed to help marketers uncover “the next big thing.”
Write hyper-targeted content by digging into Audience Insights
Audience Insights is a feature of Facebook IQ that allows you to get hyper-specific audience queries. Audience Insights data is pulled from a combination of public information posted on Facebook and predictive analytics that suggests data about people based on posts they like, share, and interact with. Facebook then lets you create custom audiences from this data.
Custom audience lists allow you to write and post content that’s tailored to a specific group. For example, say you want to offer a life coaching special to new moms who are also mid-level executives. You can pick their location (your city), their age (28-45), their interests and hobbies (yoga, women in leadership seminars, data science, etc.), education level, job title, household income, purchasing behavior, and so much more.
You could also take your list of current fans and customers and tell Facebook to find everyone else on Facebook that are just like them, right down to their purchasing behavior and how likely they are to click on a Facebook ad – BEFORE you spend money on them!
You can build custom audiences from people connected to your Page OR from all of Facebook.
While Facebook encourages you to use Audience Insights to better target paid ads, you can also simply explore your demographic data to learn more about your fans and customers and create better audience personas, which in turn will help you develop more accurate marketing plans for your business – on or off Facebook.
What are the ideal image sizes for Facebook?
Choosing a compelling and relevant image for your posts or shared links has never been more important to extending the reach of your Facebook Page. In fact, Facebook actually measures how much engagement an image post is generating – and that may determine how long that post remains in your Timeline (and in front of your fans).
One of the biggest reasons why posts with images aren’t engaged with has a lot to do with image quality, but choosing the right resolution and dimensions for an image isn’t exactly intuitive.
Have Camera Will Travel has an excellent (and very detailed!) roundup of the multitude of aspect ratios to watch for, but here are some basic guidelines to make sure your photos, infographics, and logos look their best on your fans’ News Feeds.
Cover photo: 820 x 312 pixels
(Displays on smartphones at 640 x 360 px)
Profile pic: 170 x 170 pixels
(Displays on smartphones at 128 x 128 px)
Shared links: 476 x 249 pixels
(300 x 300 px if you’re using the multi-image carousel feature)
Vertical: 476 x (up to) 714 px , Horizontal: 476 x 316 px
Click here for more info on videos from Facebook.
If an image looks fuzzy, try uploading a higher resolution image – exactly twice the required size. So for 600 x 600 pixels, give 1200 x 1200 a shot!
Facebook Live? Facebook Videos? How do I choose?
Internet video will account for 79% of global Internet traffic by 2020. 79%!
The social media platform with the biggest investment in the space? You guessed it: Facebook.
Mark Zuckerberg even went on record back in March of 2016 saying that video, particularly live video, will rank higher than other formats in the News Feed. And while Facebook Live grabs all the headlines for better or worse, it’s not the only way Facebook does video. Read on to learn more about the different Facebook video formats and how to make the most of them!
Facebook’s ginormous audience of 1.23 billion daily active users is reason enough to experiment with real-time video. While it may seem odd to think of people spending enough time on Facebook to watch live video, remember that people spend nearly an hour on Facebook every day! That’s an eternity in internet time – and a very captive audience.
Whether you are a Realtor taking your fans on a tour of their dream home or a yogi leading a class from your private group broadcast, Facebook Live is a huge opportunity to engage your fans with truly unique content. And Facebook found that people tend to like live video broadcasts more than pre-recorded ones – that means live video takes precedence in the News Feed.
Whether you start a Facebook Live broadcast spontaneously or schedule one for your fans, here are some examples of ideas for Facebook Live streams that can get tons of engagement and interest:
- Invite influencers or guests to take over your broadcast
- Go “behind-the-scenes” of your business or industry
- Nurture existing clientele with an educational series
- Host a Q&A about your latest book release
- Give “insider” updates on an event or conference you’re attending
- Show off your amazing snowboarding moves
Facebook Live doesn’t stop being valuable once you’re done streaming, either. At the close of your stream, your video saves and posts automatically to a specified audience: public, friends, or whatever subset of your audience you choose.
In other words, this is a BIG opportunity to drive even MORE views and engagement on your page! (Plus, Facebook’s real-time commenting feature is a fantastic way to interact directly and authentically with your viewers and fans.)
AKA: just upload videos to Facebook.
There are over four billion video views on Facebook, every single day. Facebook encourages users to add videos directly to Facebook (as opposed to linking out to a video site like YouTube) for two major reasons:
- Native videos will play automatically in your fans’ News Feeds
- Facebook offers free analytics (via Video Insights) so you can track views on videos you post
Facebook is so bullish on video right now that they even offer up their video APIs to make the whole thing as simple as possible for you!
Facebook 360 is an immersive 3-D-like video format that adds an extra “WOW!” factor to videos – it’s like adding virtual reality to your Facebook posts!
360 video allows viewers to rotate the camera and change their point of view – meaning they can explore a video environment in every direction. This is a cool, interactive, and immersive way to share videos with your fans – like showcasing a beautiful new home or showing off the breathtaking vistas from your latest retreat.
While making the most of Facebook 360 requires that you have a 360-degree camera (a special camera addition that simulates a multi-camera setup), you can use a panorama photo from your phone to create your own 360 Photo! Either way, if you’re looking to capture the increased engagement that comes from the “newness” of a format, 360 is one to check out.
“Boosting” posts vs. Facebook Ads – which is right for my business?
Facebook marketing isn’t terribly complex when it comes to promoted content. There are two primary ways you can amplify your brand: through boosted posts and Facebook ads – and Facebook makes it super easy to track how effective each of these methods are, so you know instantly which gives you more bang for your buck.
In fact, Facebook pages generally pay for as much as a third of their total reach – and when you take the time to custom tailor the audience that sees your ads, you can really stretch your budget.
Boosted posts are a simpler, quicker alternative to creating a Facebook ad that lets you “boost” the visibility of a regular post and specify a target audience. You can pay to “boost” your posts, moving them higher in the newsfeed of both Facebook and Instagram, thereby increasing the chances of your fans, and other targeted users, seeing them.
Facebook ads are like “supercharged” boosted posts. These targeted advertisements look like regular Facebook posts in almost every way, but have sophisticated marketing segmentation and analytics on the backend that you can use to tailor your Facebook and Instagram ads to target specific groups of customers by gender, age, location, and lots more.
For a gargantuan company with an incredibly complex platform, Facebook’s advertising tools are surprisingly user friendly. Their support documents are even filled with tips on strategy, not just execution. That means that you can find out what you should be doing as well as how to do it. They’re a great place to learn, even (or especially) if you’ve never run a Facebook campaign before. And take a few minutes to get to know the Facebook ad manager and set aside a few bucks here and there for boosting posts you’re especially proud of.
How smart brands are “hacking” Facebook marketing
Facebook’s algorithm is what determines who sees your posts and when, and it only gets more complicated as time goes on.
But you still want to expand your organic reach and be seen by more of your Facebook fans, right? While it’s not as simple as making one or two changes – there are some overlooked ways to make the most of your marketing time and money on Facebook.
Use Facebook Messenger to better serve (and sell to) your customers
Facebook Messenger has 1.2 billion monthly active users – many of whom are using messenger to communicate with business Pages that they follow. Wow, that’s a lot of people!
But the best part about Messenger? It allows businesses to communicate directly with their customers in a way that is, as the parlance goes, “relatively frictionless” – and that can pay off in customer satisfaction AND increased conversions.
Messenger for customer service
Who hasn’t been stuck on the phone listening to pre-recorded music instead of talking to an actual customer service representative? No surprise that a majority of us would rather message a business than call them.
Facebook Messenger is a boon for many businesses who have struggled with effective ways to manage customer service. Realizing the potential of Messenger to positively effect customer service – and get people to stay on Facebook longer, naturally – Facebook rewards business Pages with the coveted “Very responsive to messages” badge if they have great Messenger response rates and response times.
This creates a positive feedback loop that both edifies businesses and boosts customer confidence. You can even add a Messenger box to your website (scroll down to see how) to keep all your customer conversations in one place, no matter where your customers find you!
Want to increase conversions? Try a Messenger bot!
If you think the mere idea of “bots” is the least likely way to generate sales, think again. Messenger bots are used every day to provide customized content, alert customers of sales or deals, streamline transactions in an interactive way, and even provide personalized customer service. To date, there are over 100,000 of them!
And bots aren’t just for companies with a big developer team! Facebook claims a single developer can create a Facebook bot in just 10 minutes, giving your business yet another way to reach your fans and get them engaging with your Page!
Before you get started, check out “How Facebook Messenger Bots Work (And If They’re Right For You)” to quash those feelings of overwhelm (we’ll walk you through all the bot pros and cons).
The Facebook pixel
Facebook offers so many different amazing analytics options that many people don’t realize that they, too, offer a conversion tracking pixel!
The Facebook pixel is a simple way to determine how well your Facebook Ads convert into sales. It also helps make sure you’re targeting the right people – and gives you data to use to optimize your campaigns.
You don’t need to use the pixel, but without one you may not be making the most of your Facebook Ad campaigns.
But, you might be thinking right now, doesn’t Facebook already track user behavior in tons of different, useful ways? The answer is yes – but only within Facebook. As soon as a person clicks off Facebook and onto your site (or onto a landing page), Facebook no longer tracks their actions – unless you add the Facebook pixel!
The Facebook pixel tracks user behavior from Facebook ads so you can better understand user behavior and actions – like when a user views content on your blog, or adds an item to their shopping cart, or completes registration on your site.
Facebook recommends that you put the pixel code in the header tags of your website to track behaviors across your entire site, but how you use the pixel is entirely up to you – their Implementation Guide offers step-by-step instructions to help you get started.
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