Facebook is overwhelmingly the most effective social media marketing channel for small businesses, with respondents saying it is better than Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and all other social networks, based on a Constant Contact Small Business Pulse Survey.
- 75% of SMBs said Facebook was the most effective social medium for their business
- 56% of users are more likely to recommend a business of which they are a Facebook fan
- 51% of Facebook users are more likely to buy after becoming a fan of a business
Despite the results, social media remains a challenge for small business owners, as 59% listed it as a marketing activity on which they need help.
With these points in mind, I wanted to share some of the latest tips, rules, news and features in recent days from the social superpower.
What works and does not work when you post on Facebook? Edgerank is the algorithm that determines what appears in News Feeds. What it boils down to is that, the more people engage with your pages, the more they will appear on the site. And it follows that high engagement equals high sales.
The Facebook Wall Post Cheat Sheet created by Linchpin SEO has statistics that will help you post content that will engage your audience. Here are a few highlights.
- Photo posts receive interaction rates 39% higher than average.
- Posts that contain emoticons have 52% higher interaction rates and 57% higher Like rates, 33% higher comment rates and 33% higher share rates.
- Don't bother with the :-) emoticon because it is so yesterday. However, :D has a +138% interaction rate!
- Posts with 80 characters or less get a 23% higher interaction rate but 75% of posts exceed this length.
- The most effective calls to action on Facebook include Like, caption this, share, yes or no and thumbs up. In contrast, take, click, submit, check and shop have much lower interaction rates.
- If you want someone to share your post, you just have to ask. When publishers do, the share rate is seven times higher.
- Along the same lines, if they are asked to comment, there is a 3.3 times higher comment rate and, if they are asked to like a post the rate is three times higher.
- "Winner", "win" and "giveaway" are keywords that significantly increase interaction.
- You'll get lower interaction rates with posts containing questions but will get a 92% higher comment rate.
- Be sure to put your questions at the end because these posts have two times higher interaction than those with questions in the middle.
New Year, New Rules: Facebook Updates Its Cover Photo Policy
Just when you thought your cover photo met all the restrictions and requirements, Facebook changed its policy again and it is now addressing text overlay on cover photos and News Feed ads. The policy went into effect on January 15 and limits text to no more than 20% of an image's area and this includes text within logos.
Before Facebook frowned on calls to action and price/purchase information in photos to prevent them from looking like banner ads but the rule was not consistently enforced. This latest change means companies like Affinity Express, who feature products we have designed such as banner ads, mobile sites, brochures and more, have to edit those designs to reduce text and make them inherently less effective!
The exception is that you can still post images with more than 20% text as long as you don't plan to promote them in News Feeds. But, hey, if you want to spend some money, you can turn them into ads that appear in the sidebar. For all the rules on the cover photos, visit: Facebook Page Terms.
Publishers are not pushing their readers to Like them on Facebook as much as they used to for two reasons. 1) Facebook drives traffic but the numbers are not growing as fast as they used to and some are actually reversing. 2) There are only two ways to increase the percentage of audience publishers can reach on Facebook: pay Facebook or create content for the platform and increase the number of people who engage with it heavily.
The growth rate has slowed due to Facebook's practice of capping audience reach. One person interviewed for the post asked, "They're supposed to surface stuff that is truly of interest, then why cap it? . . . They set different rules for different people."
At this point, only 16% of a publisher's fans organically see a page post. That's why many would prefer that readers sign up for email newsletters or follow them on Twitter. One publisher said "We are less than happy about this restriction and kind of offended that their proposed solution is to pay them ad revenue to message the users who opted in. Another noted, "You're either spending ad money on Facebook or spending time by working on there; both benefit Facebook."
Ultimately, it seems the problem is that Facebook does not communicate to publishers clear ways or provide numbers to help them improve. For example, with email, you can change tactics such as headings, time of delivery, placement of visuals, etc., but you don't have an equivalent ability to test and experiment with Facebook. "We can't measure our own performance and it's not an empowering effect," was one comment reported.
Facebook continues to be important to publishers' audience-building efforts and many don't see that changing in the near future. The most important point is that anyone building equity in someone else's platform is taking a huge risk.
Facebook agreed to begin showing a little blue "AdChoices" icon on its display ads served through its FBX ad exchange. This development comes after months of complaints from ad agencies and advertisers and is an attempt to satisfy the mission of the Digital Advertising Alliance program.
The icon is intended to provide better notification of behavioral targeting and allow users to opt out. However, the symbol will show up only when users mouse over the gray "x" displayed above the ads on Facebook's right rail. As a result, people not familiar with the feature won't always become aware that ads were targeted using third-party data gathered from elsewhere online. The Federal Trade Commission guidelines call for "clear and prominent notice" when an ad is behaviorally targeted.
According to Genie Barton, director of the Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program, which is part of the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council and Council of Better Business Bureaus, "We wanted first of all to get something up. This is a pretty fast ramp-up for a new system."
Furthermore, the icon is displayed online in desktop FBX ads only because the system does not operate in the mobile environment.
Lawmakers and the FTC are increasing pressure on the ad industry to improve their approach to consumer privacy. Grace Liau, senior VP for Vivaki, commented, "We need the publishers to adopt the industry standard. . . . We cannot have everyone embrace it in their own flavor." There is still room for improvement at Facebook.
What are your latest success and challenges using Facebook for marketing? How do you feel about these latest changes and how have you adapted?