By Traian Neacsu, Director of Search Marketing, PitStop Media
Most of the small- to medium-sized businesses have a Facebook page by now, but many of them still don’t know how to use their Facebook pages as a demand generation tool. Let’s try changing that, shall we?
Google’s growing focus on quality content (read Panda and Penguin) has forced many to rethink their traffic acquisition channels and work harder and smarter to promote sites, products and services using social media. Sites that use SEO tactics like link farms, low quality content and an overabundance of ads “above the fold” have been penalized, and most would agree that’s not a bad thing.
But where does this leave those seeking to build (or rebuild) their online presence post-Penguin? Look no further than today’s biggest and most popular social media site, Facebook. Facebook has massive potential for website, product and service promotion.
According to Justin Smith, founder of Inside Network, Facebook pages are increasingly becoming a “second home page” for businesses online. Smith points out that, while viral distribution can help you reach people your fans are directly connected to, search engine optimization exposes your Facebook Page to Facebook’s entire user base. Most importantly, clickthroughs from Facebook have higher chances of converting into revenue.
Business owners realized they needed to look to social media sites to survive the volatility of today’s search engines when Google started to become stricter with their requirements. While Google remains the biggest name and presence on the World Wide Web, it is not the only avenue through which webmasters can harness inbound traffic (clickthroughs) and actual conversions (revenue).
Facebook can help bring traffic to websites without having to depend on the PageRank metric assigned by search engines. The mere fact that it is the biggest and most popular social media site today makes it an attractive avenue for small and medium businesses.
So what is it about Facebook that has SEO’s, companies and merchants turning their attention to this monster social media network?
The Facebook Formula
It’s quite simple really. Facebook is popular, interactive, and fun. Since every other person in the civilized world now has a Facebook account, business entities – whether they are websites or companies – are now expected to have their own Facebook pages too. Facebook business pages are as widely promoted as the websites themselves these days.
The true value of this social media platform as a marketing tool is all about relationships: creating them, building them, and making them last. An official Facebook page can help a company get more personal with their customers, and:
- Establish a brand name.
- Build up a customer base.
- Interact directly with customers.
- Find out what customers truly want from them.
- Find out what customers are looking for.
- Establish more cordial and long-term customer relationships.
- Encourage loyal customers to promote their products.
- Disseminate advertisements and viral posts more quickly.
All of these are effective ways to get people to actually read advertisements and check out what a business has to offer. It bears mentioning again that clickthroughs from Facebook have higher chances of converting into revenue.
However, advertisers on Facebook should remember that this is first and foremost a community of real people – and real people are naturally dismissive of obvious marketing tactics.
How can you maximize exposure without turning-off customers?
Facebook advertising campaigns are “softer” and more interactive than traditional campaigns. Here are some steps you can take to make sure your Facebook campaign is successful not only at sending traffic into your website, but also at securing sales.
1. Include direct links to specific website pages in your Facebook posts.
If you are a merchant, you can make a short post about a product you’re selling. Encourage people to check out more information or the price of the item at your website. And providing a direct link back to your website will definitely increase the odds that your audience will do what you’re inviting them to do.
2. Go mild on the advertisements.
Take note of the last sentence of the previous item. The keyword there is “inviting.” Calls-to-action terms in your posts should give an invitation – or at least appear to – to your targeted customers. Go mild on your advertisements and calls to action. The article, “4 Ways to Rethink the a Facebook Advertising Campaign” at Search Engine Watch has an excellent visual presentation on a soft call to action versus a hard call to action.
One way to soften call-to-action is to offer incentives to your target customers. It could be a freebie, a free subscription or a limited offer.
3. Interact with your community.
Take advantage of the opportunity to be more in contact with your customers. The benefits mentioned earlier can only be achieved if you are a constant presence in Facebook, and you reply to the posts, questions, and even praises and thank-yous of your customers. You are basically doing public relations here.
4. Make a very good Vanity URL.
This is a privilege offered to pages that have earned more than 100 fans or Likes. The vanity URL will be like this: www.facebook.com/YourCompanyName. SEOs would normally advise people to use keywords into their URLs, but in this case it would be better if you use your own brand or company name.
Use keywords though in the titles and content of your posts, including the conversation threads you have with your page fans.
5. Use part of your Press Release budget for paid Facebook campaigns.
Since a Facebook page is largely a tool for PR and not just for marketing, it makes sense to simply scrape off a portion of your funds from this department and channel them for Facebook advertising and optimization. After all, Facebook is still largely a free site. You’ll only need to budget for the freebies and other incentives you’re going to offer your page fans and Likers.
If you want more detailed tips on advertising and SEO on Facebook, InsideFacebook.com offers 10 Key SEO Strategies Every Facebook Page Owner Should Know. Check it out as well so that you can maximize your official account/fan page and achieve the results you’re hoping for.
See you at the top!
About the Author: Traian Neacsu is the Director of Search Marketing at PitStop Media which provides results-driven search engine marketing services that helps businesses generate more leads and revenue from their websites.