As a child, do you remember bugging your mom, “When’s supper gonna be ready?” Or, “Are we there yet?” Or waiting for the train to arrive (with your dad in it coming home from work)?
It seemed to take for-e-ver to arrive, didn’t it?
That’s what everyone wants to know about social media marketing: When will the customers come banging on my door in droves?
First, remember how your mom said, “A watched kettle never boils”? Or, “If you keep running to the door, it’s going to take longer!” You get the drift. Standing there waiting isn’t helping.
Second, social media isn’t a panacea! There are no instant results or magical ponies bearing enthusiastic customers on their backs. If everyone got amazing results instantly, Facebook would be up to 4 or 5 billion users instead of around 1.7 billion current users.
It’s an art AND a science to generate fabulous Facebook results.
I can see that frownie face you’re making from here…
Here’s some semblance of benchmarks for “results”:
- Large established brand: Within six months.
- Small, but established brand that has been languishing on social media: About six months.
- New account on social media (Facebook): Six months to build momentum.
Notice a trend?
What results can I expect?
That depends upon your goals and where you started (see above).
If this is your first foray onto Facebook or any other social platform, expect it to take at least six months of steady, strategic, content-rich posts and promotion to build momentum. Note I said “build momentum”!
- That doesn’t necessarily mean prospects will be busting down your door in six months.
- It may mean your fans have been building during those six months, watching your content, and have finally worked up the nerve to message you or (better yet) pick up the phone to learn more.
- During those six months, you should see relatively steady growth in several areas: Page Likes, Post Reactions (Likes, Shares, Comments), Post Reach and Conversion Rate (Total Reactions / Total Page Likes = %)
- Getting great results depends upon your goals. If you’re using Facebook as your sole means of generating customers, you may be pushing your luck.
- Are your goals to generate more conversation and engagement with fans? Perhaps it’s using the medium to grow your mailing list? Are you targeting education of your audience about your services? These are all highly different goals.
Like most marketing mediums, Facebook is but one tool in the toolbox. Generally, you need to be using lots of tools in the right combination to generate new leads and referrals.
What does it take to get good results?
It takes the perspective that Facebook is a long-term investment, not an instant sales strategy. It doesn’t matter if you’re “investing” only your personal time and effort, or if you’re investing serious promotional dollars for Facebook ads, it’s an investment to get great results over the long-term.
Some of the components required to get good results include: strategic planning and execution, great content, quick response time, the right voice (more below), and the patience and time to develop your audience. That includes regular and constant analysis of which posts resonate with fans and which fall flat. Adjust your strategy and continue to fine tune.
Factors to remember:
- Facebook should be only one piece of your full marketing mix.
- It’s a pay-to-play platform. Buy the ads for greatest impact. Use strategically.
- It’s extremely competitive to garner eyeballs on your posts since there are more than a billion folks on Facebook. It takes time to be seen. (Note the pay-to-play strategy above to be seen more quickly.)
- Time must be devoted consistently not only to posting, but more importantly to Liking other pages; reading and commenting on others’ posts; seeking out groups and participants to have conversations with… It’s a two-way street!
Why do I want to be on Facebook* again?
Now that success seems rather daunting, let’s review the positive points of using this medium:
- For the long story – Facebook isn’t for a one-time advertising blitz. It’s for storytelling. Your graphic designer is usually challenged to “tell your story” in a newspaper or magazine ad that’s one page (or less!). There’s not much you can communicate in a one-time glance at an ad. Facebook, on the other hand, allows you to tell longer stories. You can even spread out a story over multiple posts and multiple weeks, building your audience over time.
- To build your credibility – Offer your opinion, expertise and skills on a social channel to convey how well you know your stuff. Share an excerpt from your blog or white paper. Offer free advice and solve problems.
- Folks want to buy, they don’t want to be sold to. The general rule of thumb is to promote your own goods and services only 10% of the time (or less!) Facebook is like a bazaar or farmer’s market. Visitors would prefer to stumble upon a great find than have a shopkeeper rush out to push their wares upon you. There are 1.7 billion visitors here. Some need what you’re offering. Join the bazaar.
- Find your customers. It’s a bit of a treasure hunt. But the Facebook paid ads tool provides robust targeting options. Used repeatedly and strategically to unearth unique characteristics about your fans, learn more than you’d ever suspect possible about them.
- People like to do business with others who support their community. Whether or not your business is completely centered upon your local geographic area or continent-wide, demonstrate how your business serves that community on Facebook. Be human. Show empathy.
- Traditional advertising vehicles such as newspapers, magazines, billboards, radio and TV are one-way communication tools—all of which have their place in the marketing mix. What they don’t provide is a two-way tool to communicate with prospects, fans and customers. Make use of that availability on this channel.
- Build a supportive community. One of the greatest benefits to all on Facebook is the ability to develop relationships with fans who evangelize your cause on this platform. They will Like your posts over and over. They’re share them to their own Newsfeed. Thus, you’re building your reach and credibility in ways that traditional marketing channels can’t do for you.
Facebook* can be better than traditional advertising channels
- If you’ve not yet used the paid ads tool, you’re missing out on highly robust targeting which can aid immensely in developing your audience, accelerating great results.
- Quickly find out through analytics and reporting what doesn’t work. Halt advertising campaigns that show no results within hours or days—not weeks or months, saving you lots of money.
- It’s not “spray ‘n’ pray” advertising like newspaper, magazines, or yellow pages. It provides detailed reporting of exact behavior and sourcing in ad campaigns.
- For brand building it’s a fantastic medium because you have so much time to develop your voice, content and more. You are not limited to the size of a traditional ad or that your ad will be out-of-sight, out-of-mind within a matter of days.
Human factors affecting results
- Time! Yours or someone else’s. Is it well spent? Directed or scattershot? Different page managers will get different results.
- The Voice – Not the TV show! It makes a difference if posts sound like they’re coming from the voice of the company. The CEO is more of an authority than an assistant. If you’re using an outside social media manager to post and interact, does it still seem authentic, well-informed?
- Content – Is it dynamic or is the information shared ho-hum? How much is original content from your blog, website or videos? Makes a difference…
What types of businesses benefit the most on Facebook*?
In no particular order, here are a few examples of business types who can benefit from a strong Facebook presence:
- Travel agency – Recount success stories of saving clients money on trips; show photos of faraway places; educate about places around the globe.
- Professionals – You can’t tell about confidential material; but you can say you helped someone solve X problem!
- Artist – Show off not only your products but also showcase artists you admire, they may appeal to prospective clients also. This expands your reach and audience.
- IT Manager/tech – Just about everyone runs into technical glitches. Facebook is a prime medium to educate and demonstrate the breadth and depth of your skills through many post.
*Yes, you can substitute just about any social media platform (Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit) for Facebook (but your strategy and execution must be different on every platform).
Six months on any platform (traditional or digital) should provide adequate data to evaluate results. Obviously if your expectations are out of line with what the medium can bring to your business, it will be difficult to achieve those goals. For best results:
- Communicate your goals with your social media manager. S/he will let you know if your expectations are unrealistic. Social marketing, as a whole, is a new discipline. Mastery of it takes time.
- Regularly review progress and results with the medium’s reporting tools (Facebook Insights). Regular review allows for regular improvements in strategy. No waiting until a campaign has played out in full.
- If results aren’t going as well as hoped, it’s all the more important to discuss what is and isn’t working with your social media team. Listen carefully to feedback. Take action to correct the course. Rinse, repeat. Rinse, repeat.