Connecting with your audience on social media is a valuable skill to learn. Since people search for a business online before reaching out to them via phone or in person, a presence online is vital. Many times; however, businesses and page managers on Facebook post strictly about the business, its products, its offers, or its events. Unfortunately, these posts do nothing to connect with your audience and your audience is most likely disconnecting from you because of them. To understand how to effectively engage with your audience on social media, you need a background on the history of social media marketing.
History of Social Media Marketing
Although social media began in the early 2000s, it has only been used by businesses as a means to connect and sell to audiences in the past ten years. In the "The Evolution of Social Media and Its Impact on Organizations and Leaders" (2018), early information about businesses using social media is, "fragmented and lacks direction necessary for building a body of domain knowledge (Deans & Tretola, 2018)." Authors Penny Deans and Betsy Tretola (2018), found those early years difficult to see what was really being utilized by businesses, a study that followed 100 Fortune 500 companies' usage of social media marketing showcases the changes that have occurred in business marketing in those ten years. The companies were evaluated on how many social media platforms they were using at the time. When the study began, there were only nine social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and Discussion Forums, YouTube, LinkedIn, Delicious, Flickr, Scribd, and Slideshare. It's important to recognize that none of the companies were using all nine when the study began. As Deans & Tretola (2018) note, "Approximately 5 years later, in 2016, results show a major shift forward in the adoption of social media platforms and acceptance of these phenomena by most companies, as an integral component of doing business in the future." Several of the companies were using multiple social media networks to connect with their perspective consumers.
FIVE WAYS TO ENGAGE
Connecting to audiences on social media sites such as Facebook has come a long way (jumping 20-40% in five years), and Facebook is a social media platform with flexibility. Whether you choose to engage with your audience through photo, video, meme, blog, or note, Facebook has a few ways to complete the task. One key item to remember when engaging with your audience is connection. The connection is far more important than any service or product you want to sell them; and your audience can smell a sale a mile away. Always keep your Facebook page 80-90% non-sale posts. There are five ways in which to do this successfully.
One: Connect with original content and be fun
In order to connect with your audience in an authentic way, it is important to create your own posts with original content. Whether you create a video, photo, meme, or blog post, focus on originality that is exclusive to you and your brand. Social media is one of the easiest ways to build your brand content across the web. Facebook makes this easy by providing a variety of ways in which to do so. Original content will make your Facebook page stand out while building your brand in the process.
At the same time, your posts shouldn't just be about you, your company, or your service/product. Have a little fun. According to Ryder Meehan in the article "How to Bolster Your Facebook Marketing Effort When You Lack a Large Budget and Ample Time" (2018), people engage 3-5 times more to unbranded content. So, be sure to sprinkle in some content that isn't your own throughout the day. This also shows your audience that you are more than a Facebook posting machine, you care about current events, have a sense of humor, and acknowledge others. Have your post focus on the four Bs: Be original, be relevant, be fun, and be you.
Two: Connect by acknowledging others
Connect with a bigger audience through acknowledging other businesses on Facebook. Acknowledging other business pages on Facebook through posts and tagging does the following for you:
Creates free Facebook advertising for the other business and connects them to your audience.
Connects your page to the other business page and therefore connects you to new audiences.
Creates a public post that is searchable on both the web and Facebook.
A little love goes a long way, and if you are willing to acknowledge other businesses, they will return the favor. It's networking without leaving the comforts of your home, or phone.
Three: Connect through video
Once you start posting original content and also have content that acknowledges other businesses on Facebook, it's time to use stretch your creative muscles, and Facebook Business is willing to assist companies in producing strong content that maintains an audience's attention (Facebook Business, 2018). Facebook's research team discovered that consumers are more likely to remember content if it is included in a video. Since Facebook provides the option to either upload video content or create a live video, businesses have a couple of options. Additionally, videos that contain stories rather than straight advertising fair much better in the social media arena. Businesses should be mindful of this fact when creating their video content. It is far more important to develop content that connects rather than one that sells when marketing on social media.Facebook gives businesses the option to either post a video or do a live post, and it costs you nothing. How do you choose which one to do?
Choose Facebook Live when you have a strong signal on your phone.
Choose Facebook Live when you have something important to announce, provide an inside look to your business, answer questions, or have a special promotion you are doing (Sanfilippo, 2018).
Choose a prerecorded video when you need to schedule your post for a certain time and you are unavailable to do it live,
Choose a prerecorded video when what you want to show requires a more-detailed plan and staging.
Facebook Live can curate better connection with your audience, and has a further audience reach than uploaded video content. Both are unique; however, Facebook Live will increase audience interaction, and once you are finished, Facebook saves the post as a stand alone video that your audience can revisit later.
Four: Connect through boosting
Once you have original content posted, it is time to expand your audience. One way to do this is through boosting. Boosting a post is part of Facebook's Business section. While you do have to pay to boost your posts, you are able to set up specific demographics on who you want the post to reach, where you want the post to be advertised, and how long you want the ad to run. According to Facebook Business (2018), boosting a post increases its reach and potentially increases post shares, likes, and interactions from your audience. If you're wondering which posts to boost, look to the audience response. If it is performing well, this is the time to boost it.
Five: Connect through question and answer
A final way to connect with your audience is to create question and answer posts. Likes, loves, wows, etc. help create buzz on a post; however, comments between you and your audience create even more buzz. The more engagement a post receives, the higher up in the news feeds of your audience it will show. By creating posts that have a question or poll for your audience members to answer, you are given an opportunity to talk with them and in return creating more publicity on Facebook for your page (Lenarduzzi, 2016). Your ultimate goal should always be authentic connection; however, if that connection allows your page to get more views and new likes, it's worth it.
Sunny Lenarduzzi provides three tips to grow your Facebook audience.
Wrapping It Up
In closing, your connection to your Facebook audience should be a combination of your business and interesting posts. People respond to businesses that a more than posting machines. They want that connection. Since people research businesses online before seeking them out in person or via phone, a strong presence online is vital. Social media is one way to create this presence and utilizing Facebook will enhance your brand online.
Candace Deans, P., & Miller Tretola, B. J. (2018). "The evolution of social media and its impact on organizations and leaders". Journal Of Organizational Computing & Electronic Commerce, 28(3), 173-192. doi:10.1080/10919392.2018.1484597
Facebook Business. (2018). "Choose Your Audience". Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/business/products/ads/ad-targeting
Facebook Business. (2018). "About Boosting". Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/business/help/240208966080581
Facebook IQ (2016). "Capturing Attention in the Feed: The Science Behind Effective Video Creation". Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/iq/articles/capturing-attention- feed-video-creative#
"How to Bolster Your Facebook Marketing Effort When You Lack a Large Budget and Ample Time." PR News 5 June 2018. Business Insights: Global. Web. 5 Aug. 2018.
Lenarduzzi, Sunny. (2016, Oct. 11). "How to Increase Your Organic Reach". [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/BArjTUssY6E
Pixabay. (2018). Free photos retrieved from https://pixabay.com/en/
Sanfilippo, Marisa. (2018). " How to Use Facebook Live for Business". Business News Daily. Retrieved from https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/10820-facebook-live-for-business.html