Social media doesn’t end at Facebook, but as the most popular social media site in Australia and worldwide, this is where most brands’ social media marketing begins.

Facebook claims that 2.4 billion people, or one third of humanity, uses its social network every month, with 16 million users in Australia included in that number. While most interactions are between friends and family, most people engage with brands too – with two thirds of users saying they check a local business’ Facebook Page at least once a week.

With an engaged audience actively looking for brands like yours, effective Facebook marketing is key to beating the competition. Here are the basics you need to know.

Set up your Facebook Business Page

Any individual or business can set up a Facebook Page for free, but businesses should also set up a dedicated Facebook Business Page. This is necessary if you want to use Facebook Ads and other marketing tools, and the good news is, it’s also free (though advertising isn’t).

To set up your Facebook Business Page for success:

  1. Make sure you’re logged into your brand’s account and go to facebook.com/pages/create
  2. Choose either the ‘Business or Brand’ or ‘Community or Public Figure’ option
  3. Fill in your business name and other details
  4. Upload a profile photo and cover photo to represent your brand
  5. Select ‘Edit Page Info’ and complete all the fields so page visitors can see at a glance what you do, how to contact you, when you’re open and other relevant information
  6. Select ‘Add a Button’ to choose the call to action (CTA) button you want visitors to use
  7. Select ‘Create Page @Username’ to choose your username and custom URL. See our tips for how to choose a domain name.

Plan your content strategy

Social media marketing is different from content marketing for websites. Facebook posts need to be short and snappy to grab the attention of users scrolling through feeds and there are many different options, including:

Status post

The most common type of Facebook post, status updates don’t include imagery or a link to your website. They’re simply there to provide information or start a discussion.

Link post

Promoting your latest offer or blog post from your website is as simple as pasting the link into the Facebook status box. Link posts automatically generate titles and imagery from the source site, so you don’t have to enter these yourself, though you may choose to add some extra description if needed.

Posting links to your site is important for increasing traffic and keeping your followers updated, but only sharing your own content looks overly promotional. You should also share content from other sites that your followers will be interested in to spark conversations.

Photo post

Posts with images get more engagement than those without, so any important messages you share to your Facebook page should include a photo or other graphic.

As a business, you need to be aware of image copyright rules to make sure you’re only using images you have the right to.

Video post

Videos are the most engaging type of online content, Facebook Live streaming videos even more so. Businesses in all industries can use video as an effective marketing tool, although recording your own videos also takes a lot more effort, so you need to decide when it’s worth it.

If you are producing videos for Facebook, keep in mind that videos start to play automatically in feeds, although many people will scroll past quickly or won’t have sound enabled. Make sure you include your important message in the first few seconds, in text as well as audio. Facebook videos tend to be shorter than those for dedicated video platforms such as YouTube.

Facebook Stories

Introduced in 2017, Stories are a popular type of visual content that offer great opportunities for marketers, as they’re pinned to the top of news feeds for 24 hours.

Stories contain either an image or video. Images only appear for five seconds, while videos have a maximum length of 20 seconds, so you need to make sure your marketing message is simple and impactful.

What’s the best type of Facebook post?

While photos, videos and Stories typically get the most interaction, a good mix of content can help to keep your page more interesting. Plain status updates may be less engaging, but they can be a quick and simple way to keep your page active and make your brand more personable.

Pay attention to what posts get the most engagement and what questions people are asking, so you can decide the best way to answer them. You could also play around with other types of posts, such as polls.

Use Facebook marketing tools

Beyond status updates, Facebook business users have an ever-expanding range of marketing tools that could help you to grow your audience, improve customer relationships and measure the success of your campaigns. These include:

Facebook Ads

Organic posts on Facebook have to compete against those from users’ own social circles and interest groups, but paid ads cut through the chatter to get pride of place in feeds and sidebars.

Facebook Ads can be highly targeted to specific demographics and there are several price levels to choose from. Advertising on Facebook can be costly, but a well-optimised campaign can give a better return on investment than Google Ads in the long term.

Facebook Pixel

Facebook Pixel is a piece of code that you or your web designer can embed in your website. This tracks visitors to give you information about how many people are landing on your site via your Facebook Ads and what they do there. These insights help you to see how effective your ads are and what you might need to improve about your ads or your site.

Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups are communities where audiences discuss certain topics and share information. Businesses can contribute to Groups to show their expertise and grow their reputation. Facebook Groups don’t currently allow ads, but eMarketer forecasts that this will change next year.

Facebook Messenger Chatbots

A downside of being on social media is that users expect instant responses to their questions, even when you’re not available. If they don’t hear back from you in a few minutes, they’re likely to try someone else. You could avoid losing customers this way by setting up an automated chatbot in Facebook Messenger. These provide stock answers to common questions and show users where they can go to find out more.

Facebook Business Manager

Facebook Business Manager is a free suite of tools that lets you manage your organic posts and Facebook Ads though a central platform. You can also control access to employees, contractors and other users on different accounts to make collaboration easier.

Facebook Insights

Facebook Insights is an analytics hub that gives you the data you need on how well your posts and ads are performing to inform your ongoing campaigns. You can see how many people viewed, liked, shared and commented on individual posts and whether any content had a negative effect.

Facebook marketing tips

Once you’re set up, here are some pointers to help your business get the most out of advertising on Facebook and avoid common pitfalls.

Don’t be all about self-promotion

One of the big mistakes businesses make is to treat their Facebook Business Page like an advertising billboard. While you should use it to promote your products, services and offers, doing this all the time will turn people off – and could get you penalised by Facebook.

Social networking for businesses is about building, maintaining and strengthening relationships with your audience. Aim to make most of your content non-corporate, informative or entertaining. Some experts recommend that only one third at most should be promotional.

Engage with your audience

Advertising on Facebook (and social media in general) isn’t a one-way conversation. You want to publish content that people will engage with and share, so you need to make yourself available to respond to questions and comments. If you’re aloof and self-interested, users are likely to move on to a friendlier competitor.

Facebook Insights will show you the hard data of which posts are getting the most engagement, but you should always read the comments to see what people are actually saying, and reply as much as possible.

Promote your page

Make sure your contacts know you’ve got a Facebook page by including a Facebook button or URL link on your website, in your business profiles, your email signature and everywhere else.

Add Like and share buttons to your website and blog content so Facebook users can show their engagement even when they’re not on Facebook.

Keep your page up to date

Once a profile’s been set up, too many businesses never think to check back and make sure the information is still current. Whether you’ve changed your phone number or made other changes in your business, your About page needs to be accurate. It’s also a good idea to edit older posts that go out of date, or people could be disappointed to find out that a promotion’s no longer running.

You should also keep up with the latest Facebook advertising developments to make sure you’re not missing out on tools that could boost your business.

Read more social media marketing tips in the Civic Web Media blog.