By Jonny Rosemont, head of social media at search and social media agency, DBD Media

Facebook’s mind-blowingly popular global usage presents an unprecedented marketing opportunity. Over one billion of the world’s population is spending over six hours per month on the site – more than any other web property including Google. And the information volunteered by these users is a marketer’s dream; with age, gender and interests providing easy targeting opportunities.

But effective Facebook marketing requires more than setting-up a Facebook page, building up ‘Likes’ and posting the odd bit of interesting content. Effective Facebook marketing requires true commitment of time, resource and budget and can be boiled down into four core categories:


1. Grow. Start by establishing a strong Facebook page. Page set-up needs to be done correctly, incorporating Timeline milestones and communicating your proposition in an engaging way. Invite existing customers to become Facebook fans through emails, websites and other communication channels. Facebook advertising should also be used at this stage to drive awareness around the page and build additional likes. Advertising can be targeted at customer demographic or those interested in specific subjects. Existing customers can also be targeted by driving adverts through Facebook’s ‘Custom Audiences’, an option that cross references Facebook users with customer emails or phone numbers. Another advertising option recently launched and being rolled out to the UK is ‘Lookalike Audiences’, which targets Facebook users that have similar behaviours to existing customers. Once you’ve established your community, advertising will ensure it grows.

2. Engage. This stage equates to community management; the activity that most small businesses are already doing. Publish regular updates to fans and tell interesting stories through appealing content like photos and videos. Use ‘Facebook Insights’ to understand what content is generating positive responses, so that you can develop these areas further. Ongoing analysis will optimise your campaigns to build greater engagement and, ultimately, commercial benefit.

3. Influence. It’s time to extend the reach of your business’s Facebook page activities. This involves standard adverts to target fans’ friends and ‘Sponsored Stories’ to promote page content like updates and videos. This is potentially where you will see most impact in terms of audience growth and engagement. What’s more, the growth will comprise relevant consumers as it’s developed through association; friends of fans are more likely to be influenced and engage.

4. Convert. This is where Facebook activity is turned into cold, hard sales. In addition to using Facebook as a general engagement and branding channel, there are tools like ‘Facebook Offers’ and ‘Facebook Exchange’ that can be used to drive sales. Facebook Offers provides incentives that people can redeem when purchasing. Facebook Exchange is essentially ‘remarketing’ but specifically through Facebook. So if customers visit your site but don’t purchase right away, they can be influenced further down the line by streaming ads relevant to that customer when he or she jumps onto Facebook.

Not all SMEs will have the resources required to commit considerably to all four areas. Fortunately, Facebook advertising is scalable, so it’s feasible to start with a small test budget, understand its impact and then invest more once the benefits have been proven. Facebook has made proving ROI easier having recently launched conversion tracking. This measures output in terms of audience impact, web visits and ultimately revenue, and is best used in conjunction with your web analytics (e.g. Google Analytics) software.

Facebook has gifted every business – whether small or large – with an unprecedented marketing opportunity. But to truly harness Facebook’s immense marketing potential, SMEs need to move beyond the odd Wall update and a few new ‘Likes’. If they don’t, they’re looking this gift horse in the mouth.

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