Don’t Let the Wave of Social Media Marketing Pass Your Business By. Learn How to Use Facebook to Expand Your Online Reach and Build Your Brand.

With more than 1.23 million users, it’s hard to ignore the social networking powerhouse that is Facebook. While many use the platform to stay connected with friends, family and their favorite brands, the marketing potential Facebook offers businesses is tremendous. But too often, companies create a page, post when there’s nothing better to do, casually ignoring its followers. This, Dear Readers, is more than a missed opportunity, it’s a horrible mistake. 

Scoring a simple “Like,” comment or “Share” on Facebook means you’re not only reaching the interactive user but that user’s entire network through News Feed. With that kind of FREE, EASY word-of-mouth, you’d be reckless not to use Facebook in your online marketing strategies. We realize that navigating endless Facebook marketing strategies can be daunting, so here are 10 easy ways to take your Facebook marketing to the next level giving  your business the boost it deserves:

Social Media Needs Valuable Content

It’s all about providing value by relating to your fans, and your Facebook page can help extend the reach of your company’s content. If you have a company blog, update your status every time a new post goes live. If you hired a new employee or someone within your company just won an award, share their photo and news on your page. If there are new products, specials, events or interesting news relevant to your industry or demographic, share it. The goal is to be the most knowledgeable, authoritive source in your industry. The more you post, the more credibility you build with fans.

(Extra Tip: Don’t be too wordy or technical! Brief posts are easy to digest and more effective. Studies show that words such as where, when, would and should increase engagement as well. And, ALWAYS include names and photos of real people. Friends and family members will “Like,” comment or share a post if they see a loved one tagged on Facebook!)

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Wine & Dine Your Audience 

Give your fans something they can’t resist, and they’ll be hooked! Utilizing contests, coupons, free trials and Facebook fan-only exclusives, you can raise interest in your online community and gain more exposure. Facebook reports that people participate 10% more on Fridays than any other day, so why not come up with creative Friday-only offers? Consider creating a prize package to boost your number of likes or raise awareness about a new product or service. When ThompsonGas opened its retail showroom, the propane company used Facebook to promote the news with exclusive discounts and giveaways. Prizes don’t have to be expensive — just something that people will want enough to “Like” your page, comment or generate buzz within their network.

Thanks to posts like this one, more than 400 customers signed up to win prizes in honor of ThompsonGas’ retail showroom grand opening.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words, Especially On Social Media

Say you came across two Facebook posts — one a 5-10 line block of text describing the new iPhone 5 and its specs, the other an eye-catching photo of the new model in all its high-tech glory. Which would you click? While Twitter is all about words, Facebook is all about pictures! A picture attracts the eyes and sparks interest. Your status updates should include photos of your products, services and people behind the business as often as possible, capturing your fans’ attention and keeping them on the page.

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Ask For Facebook Likes

Most fans are looking for a reason to engage online, and sometimes all it takes is a little nudge. Remember the old adage, “You’ll never know unless you try?” Don’t be vague with your call to action. Asking fans directly to “Like” a post, answer a question or share news will garner just the results you’re looking for.

(Extra Tip: Encourage feedback by asking questions that require a one-word response, as fans are more likely to respond.)

In this late summer post, ThompsonGas’ request was as straightforward as possible: like this status if you’re planning to use your grill this weekend.

Facebook Is A Two-Way Street

Sometimes we forget that each “Like” is a real person with social and intellectual needs. Interact with your fans by asking questions, responding to their comments (even if it’s a quick “Thanks”) and showing your concern for their feedback. Think of it this way: if a customer called your office, would you ignore the call or answer the phone and respond. The same customer-centered approach should apply to Facebook.

(Extra Tip: When you respond to a comment or repost content, be sure to tag fans or businesses mentioned so they’re notified of your special attention.)

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Take Advantage of Your Facebook Timeline

Facebook features a Timeline, a photo-heavy redesign that allows users to “time travel” through past photos and posts. While there were initial debates over the new look, businesses are seeing quite the marketing potential. Companies can use the sprawling cover photo space to sell their business, new product, promotion or enhance specific posts. A Milestone can be created to call attention to completed projects, awards or accomplishments. Use these tools to celebrate your work. You deserve it, and your fans will appreciate your accomplishments and dedication, as long as they know about them!

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Boost Your Facebook Post

Amplify your brand with original Facebook advertisements. With Facebook Ads, you can target your fans’ friends — narrowing your message recipients by age group, gender and geographic area — and set bid prices, campaign budgets, test images and ad copy, and more. Other advertising opportunities like Sponsored Stories are messages that come from friends about their engagement with your page. These are highly effective because the ads reflect actual activity from friends, not just generic ad content.

Consistency Is Key For Facebook Success

If you’re going to use Facebook as a marketing strategy, do it well — and do it often. The message you send by NOT posting regularly can be greater than the one you send by delivering relevant posts frequently. If you give your fans the impression that you don’t care about your business, then why should they? To help budget your time and efforts, create a schedule (whatever works for you and your team — daily, weekly, etc.) and stick to it.

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Integrate Your Facebook Campaigns

Facebook shouldn’t be your only marketing outlet; it should be used to complement other strategic marketing goals. If you’re doing a print ad, include a “Like us on Facebook” inset. Apps like HootSuite allow you to sync and better manage your Facebook updates with Twitter and other media outlets. And, of course, your company website should link directly to your Facebook page. Your campaign is sure to knock it out of the park the more integrated you make it!

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Track Your Facebook Results

What good are your efforts without the proof that they work? Facebook makes it extra easy to track your efforts with tools like Facebook Insights, a set of analytics FREE to page administrators that tracks usage and interaction on your page. Gauge what content is most interesting and interactive, and leverage that to your advantage. A number of other tools — like PageLever, which measures engagement and boosts News Feed visibility, and Infinigraph, which pre-filters social media content to the most engaging and viral — help boost the impact of your Facebook marketing. Understanding your stats, having the right tools to measure them and applying their results will help you create more targeted and successful marketing messages.

What strategies helped maximize your Facebook marketing efforts? We’d love to hear from you! Share your tips in the comments section below!