For small businesses, advertising has always been a heavy burden.

A quick look at the ad budget of some large-scale enterprises and you’ll understand that the barrier to entry for traditional media advertising is way too high.

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SMEs can not compete on the same turf with these guys. Which is why social media was such a huge game changer and caused a significant shift in the advertising landscape.

Suddenly, SMEs can reach more people, acquire more customers and outperform even the big businesses in the marketplace. All you need is the right skill and knowledge (and possibly early adopter’s advantage).

Facebook currently has (at the time of this writing) 1.71 billion monthly active users. Advertising on Facebook is like placing ads on the most watched TV show in the world. Only this time, you have the option of streamlining/limiting your ads to regions, and by demographics.

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Really, using Facebook Marketing is a no-brainer. You can bet a portion of your target market is using Facebook nearly every day.

The question then is: how do you use Facebook as a marketing tool?

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This beginner’s course will show you the ropes of marketing your business on the world’s largest social network.

Audience: Who’s On Facebook?

Facebook started out as a social network for college students, but, today, everyone and their uncle, is using it.

The minimum age requirement is 13, which means you have a really large pool of teenagers, young adults, adults, millennials, baby boomers, and even the elderly. You can bet top money that no matter what age group you’re targeting, there will be more than enough of those users on Facebook.

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Marketing on the world’s largest social network

Facebook has three tools that are the core of Facebook Marketing. These tools have their own purpose, and combining them deftly is the key to effective marketing. They are

a. Pages

b. Ads

c. Groups

Facebook Pages

Facebook Pages are like your regular personal profiles, but for businesses, organizations, and public figures and celebrities.

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For users to interact with Pages, they have to “Like” (akin to “friending” people you have relationships with when you send friend requests). By “liking” a Page, users will automatically receive updates from that page in their news feed.

The major difference between Pages and regular personal profiles is that with personal profiles, you have to send “Friend Requests” and the request has to be accepted before two accounts can be connected.

On the other hand, Pages can be liked by anyone, without a requirement for the Page owner/manager to accept the “like”. By simply clicking the like button, users immediately become fans of the Page.

Pages also don’t have a restriction on the number of friends/fans they can have (unlike profiles, which are limited to 5,000 friends).

Advantages: Pages are free and easy to set up.

Disadvantages: Building a fan base can be akin to climbing Mt Everest. The “likes” don’t come so easily.

Facebook Ads

Facebook offers a fantastic targeted advertising platform. You can create ads and target them using geographic areas and demographics such as age, education level, and even the types of devices used for browsing. How’s that for specific?

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Facebook also lets users close ads they don’t like and “Like” a page right beneath an advertisement:

Advantages: Ads have powerful and specific targeting parameters.

Disadvantages: Ads can get expensive, depending on your goals.

Facebook Groups

Facebook groups are the (proper) discussion forums of Facebook. Proper because people tend to have serious discussions and arguments on their personal walls. But, ideally, groups are Facebook discussion forums where people with similar interests gather and interact on a common theme.

Thus, you can create and manage Facebook groups related to your business’ industry as a way to reach out to potential customers. You could also join similar groups especially ones where your target audience hangs out in. This helps you to keep a finger on what their conversations and topical trends.

Advantages: Groups are free and have high levels of engagement.

Disadvantages: Groups can be very time-consuming.

How to Market with Pages

Let’s start with Pages. Facebook pages are the simplest, easiest way to earn your first stripes in Facebook marketing. They’re free, relatively easy to set up and very flexible. There’s not much of a downside, either.

Unfortunately, many companies don’t use them to their full potential; or worse, use them badly. These guidelines will help you avoid those mistakes.

Profile Photo and Cover Image

Your profile photo should be your logo. Simple as that.

The cover image is a different story though. It’s really up to you to decide what to put here. Some use photos of employees, while others use fancy artwork and put their contact information in the cover image. Pick a landscaper photo that will enhance your page and draw the eye of your visitors.

“About” Section

The “About” section is prominently placed right below your company logo. This is your chance to tell anyone coming to your page what your business does.

The copy you use for your About section is as important as the About page on your website. So take it with equal seriousness. Make sure you communicate effectively, using your brand voice, to tell people what your company does, why you’re different, and any other captivating details.

If you can, take the time to write it specifically for your Facebook audience. Be sure to fill in all other company details under “Basic Info.”

This is a suggestion: Try to be friendly and informal with your copy. A casual tone usually works best on Facebook. Here are a few good examples:

TopCheck tells us what they do with a great brand voice:

“Your online Portal for Loans, Insurance, Internet and Banking! We Compare, You save! Visit: http://topcheck.com.ng”

Konga shares what they do and a unique value proposition, which furthers persuasiveness:

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“Nigeria’s Largest Online Mall; Buy all your needs in one place…Delivered Quickly To You! www.konga.com”

You get it now, right?

There’s a section where you can also put the hours when you’re open for business. It’s optional but we advise you to go for it.

Tabs

Tabs are the little squares that sit to the right of your About section.

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Facebook allows you to use up to 10 application tabs, known to Facebook Page administrators as the “Favorites” section. Photos and Likes are compulsory and cannot be removed.

You may move the Likes tab wherever you wish, but the Photos tab stays the first. The tabs at the top are set to a limit of four. So you need to do a little strategic thinking and planning.

What the priorities are for your visitors and potential customers? ? If you’re a physical store, you may want to make a tab for location.

If you host webinars, perhaps you could use the Events tab to let people sign up and join the webinars. Social media is about engagement, so the more you get your fans to engage with you, the better your Facebook marketing will be.

Engaging The Fans

Post Useful Information to Your Wall

What you post to your wall will show up in the news feeds of everyone who has “Liked” your page, just as it does when your friends post something on their walls. This is the primary way of engaging with your fans on Facebook.

So, a lot of your effort on your Page is to ensure that what you’re posting is useful to your fans. Don’t post endless updates about the same thing, and don’t post too many updates, clogging the news feeds of your fans.

We’re all too familiar with that one friend who always shares the same post 5-6 times each day. Such kind of behaviour can be off-putting and cause fans to “Unlike” your page (yes they can) and stop following you.

Here are some ideas for the kinds of things you might want to post to your wall:

  • Links to articles related to your company or your industry
  • Links to your blog posts
  • Coupon codes for fans to save on your products
  • New product announcements
  • Links to online tools your fans might find useful

There’s a whole world of strategic Facebook content posting to be explored. But since we’re just getting our feet wet with the concept of Facebook Marketing, these will suffice.

Again, make sure that your posts are useful. Also, don’t post more than a few times each day unless there’s a special event going on.

Ask Your Fans Questions

Getting your fans involved with your page is a great way to inspire loyalty.

Asking questions in your updates gets people involved but on their own terms. What you ask depends largely on your product and your niche, but asking open-ended questions will usually get more responses.

Asking for opinions on what features your company should work on next can be a good way to convince your fans that your company cares about what they want.

The more engagement a post gets, the higher/earlier your fans will see it in their Facebook News Feed.

Use Pictures and Videos

Facebook is not only great for texts but also pictures and videos. It’s smart to use a combination of all three formats to engage your audience. The level of interaction each content type garners will determine which options you should double down on.

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Don’t Spam

Nobody likes spam. Not even the people who send the spam emails. And the sentiment carries over to Facebook.

Spam is one of the quickest ways to lose fans. If you consistently pitch your products on Facebook, that can be regarded as spamming (cos your posts will keep showing up in your fans’ timeline) and you’ll fail to engage your prospects.

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An increase in the volume of such promotional posts can lead to a decline in the organic reach of pages on Facebook. Before you send out an update, ask yourself if it honestly adds value to the conversation. If not, don’t send it.

Study Your Statistics and Results

Facebook offers Page admins some really great analytics. Pay attention to them. If you see a big surge in fans (or a dip from the average), you can trace the cause by using Facebook analytics to identify the responsible post/content.

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Once you locate such content, you can either post more of that kind of content or less, if you’re losing fans.

Ads

Targeted Advertising

Because it gathers so much demographic information about its users, Facebook has one of the best-targeted advertising programs online.

You can target users based on virtually everything. If they’ve shared it on their profiles, it can be a target variable. It also allows you to track your success with each segment.

Ads can be run either on a per-impression basis or per-click. Facebook shows you what bids are for ads similar to yours, so you know if your bid is in line with others in your industry. You also can set daily limits so there’s no risk of blowing your budget.

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Types of Facebook Ads

There are a number of ad subtypes you can choose from.

You can create ads to promote a Facebook event, complete with an RSVP link.

You can create ads for mobile app installs and app engagement.

You can also create ads that direct to your Facebook page, or to a website.

Users Can Hide Your Ad

People can “Like” your advertisement or choose to hide the ad. Upon closing an ad, Facebook asks the user to specify why they didn’t like it. This information is available to you and provides you with insight into why your ads might not be doing very well.

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Targeting Your Ads

As already mentioned, Facebook has some of the most powerful targeting tools of any online advertising program in the world.

You can target by virtually anything on a user’s profile. You can start with the location unless of course, you plan to advertise to the entire planet, in that case, go for it! You can then specify the city and state.

This is a huge bonus for local businesses (because of that limited ad budget mentioned earlier). From there, you can choose basic demographics, including relationship status, age, workplace, education, birth date and much more.

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You can target ads to people who have recently moved. So, if you own a laundry service in Nairobi and want to find all the individuals who recently moved to the area, you can do that and adjust your ad copy to address this particular audience.

You also can target people based on their interests. Say, for example, you have a product that’s targeted at foodies. You could enter food, restaurants or health in the Interests field. Or, maybe you’ve written a book and you’re sure that people who like a certain book will like yours. Enter the book’s title under Interests, and you’ll specifically target those who’ve included the book in their Interest field.

You even can target a private list of users. If you have a bunch of people that you want to target, and you have their emails, you can use Facebook’s ads manager to target just those people. So, if you run a SaaS business and have 500 people on your “prospect list,” you can use their email addresses to target them with ads on Facebook.

Customize Your Ads

The other big advantage to using Facebook Marketing is that you don’t have to use a one-size-fits-all approach to ads. Using tightly-targeted ads, you can create different ads for different demographic groups. So, you can create different ads, with different graphics and copy.

This way, you are speaking the language of your target audience. Tightly-targeted ads garner better results overall.

If you’re targeting soccer fans, you could create individual ads for different popular teams and leagues. You could have one ad specifically aimed at Arsenal fans, one at Chelsea fans, and another at Manchester United fans, and then have those ads shown only to people who have indicated in their Interests that they are fans of those teams.

Or, let’s say you’ve targeted people based on their love of a particular book. Mentioning that book in the ad itself will definitely catch their attention. Create different ads for different books, and then target accordingly. This method may be a bit time consuming but the results are usually well worth it.

You can advertise a single Post

These are called Post engagement ads. You can choose to treat any one of your existing posts as an ad in itself. This makes said post to show up in your target audience’s News Feed as regular posts (but with a “Sponsored Post” disclaimer at the top).

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Bearing this in mind, make sure that you choose the post wisely. It’s tempting to put up a post that leads to your blog, but it’s also necessary to choose one that catches the eye and prompts an emotional reaction. By far the best type of post to choose for causing a reaction is one that makes the target audience laugh, so don’t be afraid of using industry-relevant memes.

Of course, if you’re a product-based company and have unique items that you can display as a beautiful photo, then this will also provoke interest.

Groups

Marketing with Facebook Groups is a bit different from the other two.

First, you need to research what groups your target audience hanging out in and join them. You can join as many groups as you want.

Spend 5 – 10 minutes a day in as many of those groups as possible. Some really committed content marketers to engage in hundreds of groups. Spend this time skimming the most recent 10 – 15 articles. Like the best posts and comment under them. Leave comments on 4-5 posts per day, at least.

Note that, you can’t join groups as a Page. You have to use your personal account to join groups or the accounts of members of your marketing team. This means that you’ll be joining groups as an individual who’s also interested in whatever the group is about.

Some groups are closed and usually require you to apply and wait to be permitted to join. From experience, these kinds of groups usually have higher engagement than open groups where there could be 1000 members but only a few posters/comments.

These are all ways to establish yourself as a regular in that forum. By doing this, you get a feel for the forums and build trust. Using your judgement, you can decide when to share information about your company, products and benefits to customers. Your posts won’t be seen as spam but rather as genuine contributions to the forum.

Conclusion

As you can see, Facebook isn’t just powerful, It’s flexible. No matter what type of company you run, it has enough different marketing options that you can tailor your marketing efforts to fit your company, your budget, and other resources.

Yes, Facebook can be daunting when starting out, but with these fundamentals, easing into it should be a lot easier.

Like almost everything else, it takes time and practice to get good at it. Again, this is a worthwhile investment. Facebook is growing at a rapid pace, and every day it becomes a more indispensable part of social media marketing.

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