Starting a Small Business: Facebook stalking (The business kind… not the crazy kind)
By Naomi Gora
It’s watch me build a business week 2! This week I’m looking at using Facebook for your small business.
I have no master plan for how these blogs will evolve. Or perhaps, I do have a plan, but I’m also open to changing it on a whim. I had planned to write about how important brand frameworks are this week and show you mine because that’s my area of expertise, after all… but instead I found myself down a rabbit hole of stalking Facebook pages of successful businesses I admire.
I read loads of books and articles and blogs about how to use Facebook when I started my first business, but as so often happens when you’re learning any aspect of building a small business, I got mixed reports. Things like: Only post between 1pm and 3pm in the afternoon (which never seems to work for me), use the analysis tool to see when your audience is online (surprise surprise my audience is online 24 hours a day, seven days a week!), post helpful information 80% of the time and promote your offerings 20% of the time, post 3 times a day, post 7 times a day, twice a week is enough if it’s engaging, ONLY use motivational quotes, Ryan Gosling memes and cute cat videos (hilariously, in my experience of Facebook for business it really IS the motivational quotes that get the most engagement). Aggghhhhh, it was hurting my brain! Eventually I found my own groove with social media, but now that I’ve started a new business I thought it’d be fun to check out pages of some of the businesses I admire (and who I know have a revenue of more than $100,000 a year). I scrolled back through weeks and weeks of all their posts and made myself a spreadsheet about how often they post, what they post and how much engagement they’re getting….
Here are the stand out conclusions:
- They were posting about things they were already doing in their business… They weren’t reinventing some grand content strategy just for Facebook. They were posting progress reports on things they were making or writing about clients they’d worked with or big questions they find their customers have or things they’d found that had made their business/life easier.
- There wasn’t an obvious number of posts per week that seemed to be ideal. Some businesses posted twice a week, some were posting 25 times a week.
- The amount of posts per week didn’t seem to impact engagement levels. From five Facebook accounts with varying audiences from 3,500 likers to over 150,000 likers, all were getting an engagement rate of between .5%-2% of their audience. (Man those numbers are crazy, on average only 1% of your audience will engage with you no mater how big or small you are).
- The ratio of sales/promotional posts to other educational/entertaining posts varied. Between 5% – 50% of posts were sales posts.
- The posts that got the highest engagement levels were about, you guessed it… entertaining or motivational. They were a) Motivational quotes b) Posts about the personal lives of the business owners and c) Animals doing weird stuff. In amongst those posts there were a few educational posts/links to blogs that got higher than average engagement, but they weren’t the consistent stand outs. The sales/promotional posts got the least engagement of all.
So what am I concluding from this in terms of Facebook strategy?
- Mix up your content. You need to tell people about your product or services or there’s no point being in business, but you can’t just sell to them, it’s boring… People don’t want to buy what you sell, they want to buy how you make them feel. It’s a saucy salsa of useful/educational, promotional and entertaining posts that seem to be the best mix. I won’t give a percentage split because I found no evidence of a best practice, but give your readers a buffet of tasty tidbits to choose from
- Don’t be scared to repeatedly post promotional stuff about your offering. As long as it’s not the ONLY thing you post. When I first started out running Facebook pages for business I was all like ‘But I don’t want to be that annoying icky car salesman person’. The reality is that only around 1% of your Facebook audience will see your posts now, so posting repeatedly may mean that someone at some point will actually see it. Most people will just zone out if they’ve seen it more than they’d like to, and if it really does annoy them, they weren’t your ideal client anyway.
- Write/post about stuff you’re already doing. With only 1% of your audience seeing your Facebook posts, you can’t be spending a lot of your time on creating content for it unless you’re getting proven return on investment. There’s a strategy in business that you should always look for ways to make money from the by-products of your business. Creating Facebook content works on this strategy… don’t try to invent the wheel to create the biggest/best/most engaging posts, just look around you at what you do every day and write/post about those things. It’s easier for you and more real to your audience… Like this blog… I was already down the Facebook rabbit hole, I just picked up a pen while I was in there.
- Entertaining posts always win. People really do like motivational quotes, guinea pigs riding scooters and Ryan Gosling memes.The up side of this is that you can legitimately screw around on the internet to find these things and still officially be doing work. (Hint… always make sure your entertaining posts are appropriate for your brand personality and your audience. I probably don’t want to see my local Doctor’s Surgery posting a video of a farting octopus. Can octopi fart? I’m not sure, but you get my drift).
So what strategy will I be adopting?
In my last business, which was an online magazine, I posted twice a day, seven days a week. While I really admire people who can keep this up, it made me exhausted. I’m an introvert. I’d much rather lurk in the shadows and occasionally thrust my hand out at passers by to drag them into my creative cave, but other than potentially getting me arrested, it’s not very reliable… so I’m going to try a different approach this time and see if I can still achieve similar engagement levels. This time I’ve created a menu of social media posts to choose from and each week I’ll share whatever is motivating me or the things I think can be the most helpful to others without putting a ‘I have to post x times a week’ expectation on myself because it’ll just make me grumpy. So, my menu is:
1. My weekly ‘Watch Me Build a Small Business’ blog about whatever business thing I’m focusing on that week
2. Book reviews with my top 5 take away tips from branding, small business and personal development based on the latest book I’m already reading
3. Behind the scenes in my creative cave/client work (again, another by-product of my business)
4. Design, website building and book producing stuff I’m seeing out and about, because they’re my thing, so these things are already hitting me in the eyeballs where other people may not notice
5. Funny shit that makes me laugh because it pops up in my own news feed anyway
6. Sharing relevant posts from my small business clients because I like them and they’re doing cool stuff that might inspire other small business owners
7. Promotional posts for my signature packages: My small business branding/logo/website package and my book production package
8. Quotes about building a small business because people love easily digestible quotes and I can pull them easily out of books and blogs I’m already reading
9. Links to blogs I write on my website about branding/web building/book production. I’ll write these based on what my clients are asking about. Lately I’ve had lots of people asking me about how to set up a WordPress website, so that’s going to be my next one.
That’s it for week 2! My key take away from this week? Make social media an extension of your business, not a costly, and frustrating, addition to it.