The Two Faces of Facebook

Facebooks recent announcement that it is going to reduce the organic reach of brands’ “promotionalpage posts caused Forrester Research to advise (brand) advertisers to abandon Facebook.”  While you might not think of your company Facebook page as a brand, retailers may have noticed the number of Facebook post views have declined since the beginning of the year.

Recently, global ad agency Olgivy reported that in February 2014 large brands posts on Facebook reached just 2% of their fans, and only .07% of top brands Facebook fans interact with their posts. Yet, as organic posts interactions were falling by .5% per month, Facebook advertising was increasing – up 64% from a year ago, same quarter. So, yes, you should probably still use Facebook, but you should expect to have to pay for the reach you had hoped for through likes and shares.

In preparation for this article, I reviewed a dozen or so Facebook pages to see if I could spot any trends. Based on a limited sampling, it was obvious that the use of photos and videos dramatically improved your post reach. Posts with text only were outperformed by those with photos, in some cases by a four to one margin. Those with multiple photos (either an album or compilation) outperformed single images, but posts that used the Facebook Boost Postfeature did roughly 10 times better than non-promoted posts. So, you can see the dichotomy; your basic posts are going to a smaller audience unless you pay Facebook to promote it for you.

I am not suggesting that you dump Facebook, but for improved organic results, make sure it is personal, visual, informative, and avoid using it solely to post promotional efforts. You might also give some thought to budgeting for Facebook advertisements. From a purely practical standpoint, if your goal in using Facebook to begin with has been to promote your business, then you cant ignore the ability to target your audience and expand the reach of your message. Bear in mind this is going to be an advertising model youve probably never managed before. Youll need to work hard to create meaningful content, budget, test, adjust, and monitor your ads.

For many that is simply not going to be possible.  So lets think about some things you can do in 2015 that wont break the bank. Here are 5 tips on how to improve your digital marketing efforts.

Revise your website to focus on help, images, blogs, contact forms, and perhaps a platform for submissions. Create a site where visitors will linger, view, and share content. Make sure your brand (logo) is evident and common information (hours, address, social links) are prominent on all pages. At Sunrise Marketing we now build all of our websites on WordPress. The flexibility of the platform will allow you to do things you simply cant do with a typical html website.

Blog. There is no need to be daunted by blogging. Just stick to the keeping it informative, visual, and personal. Keep the blog post to 300-400 words. Use the text to caption the photo(s) or video unless you have specific events or information. Organize the content by category. Examples of these categories could be how-to guides, plants and styles, company news, events, and community connections.

Revise your social media strategy. Focus on visuals. Consider adding the effective components of social media to your own site. Encourage visitors to submit questions, photos, or even videos. You can review the material and using WordPress post those you like. If you havent done so by now you should set up a business Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram account.

Go mobile. Forbes recently reported in Digital Marketing Trends for 2015 that businesses need to shift strategies to incorporate mobile into all areas of their digital marketing: a fully responsive website, mobile apps, and separate content specifically for mobile devices. The statistics are pretty gaudy – users now spend over 2 hours and 14 minutes a day on their smart phone using apps (Facebook being 17%). The report also pointed out that millennials touch their smart phones 43 times a day. For that reason alone all of your marketing material should be designed to be viewed on mobile devices. Content should concentrate on short form such as photos and video.

Your mobile strategy needs to move beyond responsive websites to a dedicated company app. Consumer usage of apps on smart phones is overwhelming. Flurry Analytics recently reported that 86% of the time spent on smart phones is using apps. At Sunrise Marketing we expanded our epunched customer loyalty app platform to include more content (blog feeds), information (plant database), and customer submissions (the ability to send photos and questions).

Dont forget the mail. The same Forrester Research report showed that US online adults who want to stay in touch with your brand are almost twice as likely to sign up for your emails as interact with your brand on Facebook. Also note that your emails get delivered 90% of the time, while Facebook posts are sinking. Direct mail is still the preferred channel for receiving marketing from local shops (51 per cent), while email is preferred for events and competitions (50 per cent each). Direct mail is seeing a resurgence in use with postal programs like Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) mailers. The key is to highlight the visuals and personalize it as much as possible.

Recently I spoke with Sally Gill of Gill Nursery in Corpus Christi, TX about her shift towards more personalized marketing.

We saw a 9.76% return on our last postcard mailing which had staff on the front, and it was very well received and we will, from now on, include staff whenever we can! One more idea I am happy we did – we put photos and short bios of our staff on our website. Number 1 – it makes all staff – EVERYONE – feel part of the team and secondly, if anyone is wanting to learn more about our company, what better way than to show off our fabulous staff and their loyalty to their job and commitment to our community.

I couldnt have said it better myself. When you put it all together, build your 2015 marketing message around visuals, highlight staff, and play upon the inherent beauty of the product. Expand your digital universe to mobile ready websites, apps, and image driven social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram.

There is a lot that is right about Facebook, but like many other freemarketing tools, you are always reminded that in the end you get what you pay for.