Since Facebook changed its algorithm a year or so ago, most businesses’ status updates are not showing up in their followers’ news feeds. By some estimates, only about seven percent of what a business posts will show up organically. Naturally, this has led to some chagrin, disdain and flat out anger. You can still reach your followers; you just have to pay to play now. And small businesses are outraged.

FB organic reach decline

I don’t get it, really. Where else can you spend $50 a month and reach YOUR customers (outside of email if you’ve built your own list, which you should totally do, by the way)? What did you do before Facebook? Oh right, you spent $300 or more on an ad in your local neighborhood rag, or you dropped $500+ on a direct mail postcard to a targeted zip near your store (or more for a targeted, qualified list). And what’d you get for it? Assuming you put an offer in that ad, you were happy to get a 5% return rate. Like, really, really happy.

I know folks that want to switch all their social media marketing to Twitter, which is just dumb. First, people don’t sit and watch their Twitter feeds all day. They’ll miss your free post. (I’m not saying you shouldn’t use Twitter; you should, but we use Twitter differently than we use Facebook.) On the other hand, people DO scroll through their Facebook feeds to see everything that happened to their friends and businesses they follow.

So why should you spend $50 (or less) to promote your posts on Facebook?
1) That’s just stupid cheap.
2) You are reaching people who have asked you to promote to them (by liking your page)
3) You are engaging them in a social setting, not a pure selling setting (like direct marketing tends to be); they are relaxed, more receptive, and more likely to form a relationship with you
4) It’s easy and cheap to produce

Still not convinced? We ran a $3.14 “Pi Day” promotion for a pizza place last March and pretty much tore the place down. We ONLY promoted it on Facebook and Twitter. We didn’t even promote it inside the restaurant. No fliers, no table top cards, no direct mail. The crowds were so big and lines so long the store had to shut down for a bit midday to catch up. (Lesson learned, they’re staffing up for this year.) We followed good marketing practices, like running a campaign for more than a minute. (We ran a variety of cute status updates for about two weeks out leading up to the day. While the wording of the updates varied, the substance was the same, so you had a typical, focused “campaign.”)

Meanwhile, day in and day out, we look for topical content and engage our followers with information that we think is relevant to their lives. We show them that we “get them.” We entertain with jokes. We reply to customers’ comments – even just to thank them. We take the social nature of social media very seriously. We use social media to bond with our clients’ customers.

And by nurturing those relationships, we sell more stuff.

LB post re bourbon stats with comments

So don’t quit Facebook. Invest. You can boost a post to your page’s followers and their friends and choose $5. Watch how your post is doing. Are people liking it? Good! Commenting? Yay! You don’t have to spend the whole $5. Once you’ve reached some numbers that you like, go back to the post and note the “pause” button. You can pause your boost. For our clients with followings of fewer than 1,000 people, we typically spend $1/day boosting. That’s it. Just one buck.

OK, now for some of our tricks:
1) Post earlier in the day when people are logging on in the morning. This is primarily for restaurants and retailers. The rest of you all should post afternoons or evenings.
2) Watch how the post does for about an hour. Are people liking it? Is Facebook serving it up? (If Facebook notices a post is getting a lot of likes relative to how many times it’s been shown, it’s more likely to let it out more.) Case in point: we posted a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote on two different restaurant pages on MLK Day. One post got served almost 500¬†times organically; that page has about 700 followers, so that’s a VERY high organic reach (the average is 7%). The other restaurant’s post got served less than 200 times, even though they have over 3,000 followers. Why? I have no idea how Facebook determines these things. Nobody does or we’d all be rich gaming the system.
3) Anyhow, watch and see if it’s getting any organic traction. If not, go back in and boost it to your page’s followers and their friends (the middle option) for $5.00.
4) Watch how it’s doing. Stop it after $1 or $2 have been spent if you’re pleased with the engagement you’re getting.
5) Rinse, repeat.

According to the Pew Research Center, Facebook is still the GrandDaddy of social media; 71% of Internet users¬†are on Facebook, and of those, 70% engage with the site DAILY. The next closest? Pinterest and LinkedIn with 28% each, but only 13% of LinkedIn’s users logon daily (why would you unless you’re job searching?); 17% of Pinterest users logon daily.

social media site usage 2014

 

In summary, your customers are likely on Facebook, a lot. It only costs a few bucks a day to reach them. It’s easy and cheap to do. Got it? All right, next we’ll tackle Twitter and how you’re using it all wrong. (Well, maybe not YOU, but you know, that other guy.)