Alexandra Sloane says anyone serious about building their business needs a Facebook page. Sloane should know, as Facebook’s Head of Marketing, Australia and New Zealand, she’s helped countless businesses make the most of the social media platform.
Sloane says globally more than 1.4 billion people are connected with a business on Facebook. Of those, more than 180 million people from around the world are connected to a business in Australia and this number is growing.
“Facebook enables businesses to build connections with these people, and grow their businesses, both domestically and internationally,” Sloane tells Kochie’s Business Builders (KBB).
“A great example of this is Aussie business, Cool-Cabanas, which sells beach sun-shelters that use sand to prevent it from moving. When the company launched in March 2014, they just missed the opportunity to leverage the Australian summer. Instead of waiting six months, Cool-Cabanas used Facebook to build their brand in time for the American summer. Ultimately, through the use of targeting tools, the business was able to reach its key demographic in the US.”
Sloane believes developing a social media strategy for any business is key and with 15 million monthly active users on Facebook and 9 million monthly active users on Instagram, it’s an audience you don’t want to ignore.
While she suggests any social media strategy should help a brand reach their desired target market, businesses need to not only understand the big picture but also what message they want to convey to their audience on a daily basis.
“Businesses should identify the goals of their strategy, in particular, what success looks like, and determine their ideal audience groups,” Sloane says. “By doing this, content can be planned and prepared to engage the right audience. With this end goal, relevant content can be developed on the correct platform.”
Content aggregating tools have made it simpler than ever for businesses to share their stories across multiple social platforms but Sloane suggests this one-size-fits-all approach may not be the best approach.
“While Facebook and Instagram have similarities and content can be shared across both platforms, there are some distinct differences between the two,” she says.
“Instagram is intrinsically a visual platform and therefore is best for visual content. Brands should use this and Instagram’s various creative tools such as Hyperlapse and Boomerang to its advantage.
An example of this is Instagram Stories, which now has 250 million daily users globally. By using this product, there is scope for brands to create behind the scenes, digestible content which can engage audiences in a different way. This is because on Instagram Stories the content is ephemeral, lasting just 24 hours.”
Facebook News Feed offers businesses a different opportunity to connect with their audiences via either written or visual content.
“Additionally, as Facebook has 2 billion users worldwide, there is greater scope to reach a more micro-audience. Businesses can use robust targeting tools, like the look-a-like audience tool or custom audience to reach the right people at the right time.
“For both platforms, brands are increasingly connecting with their consumer via video content. A nice tip for creating video, is that most people scroll through their feed on the go, whether they are waiting for their morning coffee or on the bus. As a result, videos are often viewed without sound, so it’s smart to incorporate captions, logos and products, so your message comes across clearly without sound.”
Businesses have complete control over the content they use to connect with their customers and Sloane recommends each business creates unique and creative content that expresses their personality and brand through their page.
“By having fun and showing your unique perspective, it can help you to build brand loyalty and create genuine connections. Consumers are coming to you for your brand, so show it off!” she exclaims.
Sloane says the social media giant is always tweaking its tools to improve how business can use the social network. Recent tools that are certain to have an impact for small business included Ads in Stories and the polling tool in Instagram.
“Ads in Stories is a great way for brands to connect with their desired audience is a targeted way. A perfect example of a brand using Ads in Stories, is HiSmile. The brand recently tested using Instagram Ads in Stories, for a campaign with professional mixed martial artist and boxer, Conor McGregor. This was part of a broader push across Facebook and Instagram, where the business used McGregor as a spokesperson for the brand.
“HiSmile ran this initial test on Ads in Stories in the lead up to the recent McGregor fight and received an ROI of 5 x 1. The business was particularly impressed with how they were able to target young men, a demographic it typically finds hard to reach. According to HiSmile this is because with Ads in Stories, enables a brand to connect with an audience directly and share the brand story effectively in just 15 seconds.”
She said the new ‘polls’ feature also provide the opportunity for instant feedback from users.
“This interactive smart sticker allows users to create customisable two-option polls in stories. Here, users can ask a question to their followers and see results as they vote. This is a quick and easy way to engage your audience, gaining their honest feedback in real-time. With trusted relationships already built with your audience, this can be a fun and creative feature to help make informed business decisions.”
Her favourite tool, however, is the look-a-like audience tool.
“This feature has been heavily used by Pearly Whites, as it enables brands to use similar audiences globally. Here, once a business finds its perfect target demographic, it can connect with the same audience profile anywhere in the world.
This is perfect for businesses that offer a seasonal product.”
Sloane’s top three tips to maximise your Facebook engagement
Three key areas that businesses should focus on to maximise the impact of their page:
Use Facebook’s targeting tools: By allowing businesses to specifically engage with their desired audience profile, Facebook’s targeting tools help businesses find and convert new customers. Facebook’s profiling tools can also narrow this search down to areas as small as suburbs and interest areas, which can be perfect for niche businesses, such as restaurants or clothing stores.
Think visually: Develop creative content, still images, short form and long form video. Play around with the different tools that each platform has created. Not all content is created equal, so when it comes to telling the story of your business or selling a product on Facebook, it is important to show, rather than tell. Businesses should consider whether they want to promote a product, drive traffic to their website or increase brand awareness. Identifying the purpose of your content will help with developing posts that achieve your intended results.
With creative apps like Instagram’s Hyperlapse and Boomerang, great natural light, a simple tripod, and backdrops that contextualise a product or service, businesses can turn any space into a creative studio.
Another excellent way to capture the attention of your audience is to tell a story, and for many businesses this can be done by profiling their customers. Case studies provide authentic stories for any business and encouraging customers to share their story on Facebook can be a great way to extend your network.
Use the tools that are available to you on Facebook and Instagram and play around with them to see which work best for your brand and business. Tools such as Facebook’s Page Presence Tool helps businesses showcase a full range of products and services in a more engaging way. This is particularly useful for businesses that have multiple offerings – like a retail store or a day spa – as customers can easily browse available products to find the one they are looking for. Another great tool is the Ad Manager app, which allows businesses to create ads from their smartphone.