Understanding the Basics of Facebook for Business
By David Jenkins, Digital Marketing Coordinator at Alpha Dog Advertising
Standing out as the world’s third largest website, Facebook has come a long way since its days as a student-only platform. Since its founding in 2004, the social network has grown to become one of the world’s most recognizable names, home to over 2.5 billion active users and 3 million businesses. And while much can be said about it, the main takeaway for today’s busy professional is that Facebook, time and again, has proven to be an effective platform for growing a business.
Unfortunately, many business owners tend to miss the opportunity that Facebook presents. Whether it’s because of time constraints or simply not understanding the platform, countless professionals avoid investing in what could be one of their strongest acquisition channels. While such a misstep isn’t enough to wreck a business, it certainly hinders a company’s growth potential and its ability to interact with customers.
This blog post was created with the aim of helping business owners better understand Facebook. It will explain some of Facebook’s basic terminology and features, methods of interaction, and three approaches you can take to harness its power to grow your business.
To get started, let’s look at some of the key components that are most relevant to businesses on Facebook.
The Business Page (or Like Page)
This is a public-facing social media page designed for commercial organizations, public figures, sports teams, and government entities. Owned and operated by individual Facebook users, these pages contain things such as contact info, photos, videos, a description of the business, and all of its prior posts. Users can always find a business page by searching for it, and, if they’d like to keep up with its content, they can “like” the page by clicking its Like button. (When a user likes a page, that essentially means they subscribe to it.)
Paid ads on Facebook consist of static images and videos that promote a company’s products and services. They display in various locations across the platform, with the newsfeed usually being their most prominent placement. What makes them unique is their various targeting options — meaning, when the ads run, they’ll be shown only to people who fit the parameters of an audience that you create. When it comes to audience creation, many options exist. Here are a few to give you an idea of the possibilities:
1. Interests: Target people based on specific interests. The number of interests you can choose from is vast and very likely to consist of everything applicable to your target audience.
2. Website Visitors: Once a Facebook Pixel is added to your site, you can run ads that display only to people who’ve either been on your site or have taken a certain action on it.
3. Lookalike: Target people who are similar to those who’ve visited your website. This audience uses Facebook machine learning to find people who are most like those who have either visited your website or liked your business page.
4. Demographics: Additional options include age, gender, and geography. In some cases, such as employment ads, these targeting options will be limited. Beyond that, they can be whatever you choose them to be.
Functioning almost the same as paid ads, boosted posts are existing posts on your business page that you pay to promote. We won’t dive into whether it makes more sense to boost a post or create an ad, but the fact there’s a difference between the two is worth calling out for clarity’s sake. (If you’re not familiar with what exactly a post is, we’ll address that shortly. See the section titled “Organic Posts.”)
Messenger is Facebook’s tool for direct, private communication. Both users and business pages can send direct messages to each other, with the messages living in a stored conversation similar to what you see with text messages on a smartphone.
Like a scheduled meeting in Outlook, a Facebook event is used to provide details and invite people to a virtual or in-person occurrence. Creators can also pay Facebook to promote it using one of the various targeting options.
Mostly relevant to companies that sell online, Marketplace is Facebook’s equivalent to Craigslist. On Marketplace, you’ll find just about anything you can think of for sale. However, it’s not just a glorified online garage sale for used items. Nowadays businesses can sell new items to a national audience if they enable the option for shipping.
Interacting with People
Now that we’ve addressed some of the basics, let’s take things a step further and look at how businesses can interact with people on Facebook.
An organic post is simply a post created by a business page that is not promoted by any ad spend. It can consist of text only, or it can include a static image or video. An organic post is free and will display to people who have liked your page.
Users can interact with your post by liking it (signifying their approval) or by commenting on it. Page owners have the option to comment back and interact with users, and they also have measures of control, such as being able to delete, report, and even hide comments. Hiding a comment means that the only person the comment is visible to is the person who made it.
Ads function much in the same manner as organic posts. User interaction on ads also consists of likes and comments, the only difference being that these likes and comments are going on posts that have ad spend behind them. The control measures are the same.
How Should a Business Approach Facebook?
Now that we’ve discussed both basic terms and methods of interaction, let’s take a look at what businesses should be doing on Facebook. We’ve broken it down into three categories: the Bare Minimum, the Middle Ground, and Getting Aggressive.
The Bare Minimum
This consists of creating a business page with all your pertinent company information, including a quality logo and header image, contact info, and bio. Getting this far is a very minor time investment and, once completed, requires virtually no upkeep unless any of your business info changes. You should create posts periodically, nothing overly complicated, just things like company announcements, business updates, and even the occasional “Happy Holidays” type of post.
The Middle Ground
This approach includes everything found in the Bare Minimum plus two new things.
1. Increased Organic Activity: Simply, this means posting more often. Instead of just the occasional “Happy Labor Day” or “We’re Closing Early” announcements mentioned in the Bare Minimum, increased organic activity means you’re creating more customer-centric posts that interest your target audience and provide value to them. Also, if applicable, the Middle Ground could include creating events or listing items for sale on Marketplace.
2. Paid Ads / Boosted Posts: If you’d like to increase brand awareness, pursue leads, or promote an event, you’ll have to pay to play. Determine what you’d like to accomplish, then create a paid campaign centered around reaching that goal. Spending money on Facebook this way wouldn’t consist of having a campaign active year-round, only during certain times. If creating a polished ad is something you’re not comfortable doing, it’s worth looking to an ad agency or possibly a freelancer for help.
This is where everything gets amped up and ad spends increase. While Getting Aggressive is a larger time and money investment, it will pay dividends if done correctly. Here you’ll run paid campaigns throughout the year while also investing money in creative assets. This approach should only be taken when you’ve identified Facebook as a potentially lucrative acquisition channel for your business.
In today’s world, there really is no excuse why your business should not be on Facebook. With only a minor time investment, you can establish your presence on one of the world’s biggest websites. With additional investment, you can reach and build trust with your target audience, pursue leads, and even sell online.
That said, if you have questions about getting started on Facebook, we’d be happy to help. Contact us today and let our team help steer your organization in the right direction.