Facebook seems to be making plenty of headlines lately. And for businesses that advertise, it’s concerning. From algorithm changes that reduce brand visibility, to recent data breach accusations, it’s hard to ignore. Both issues have caused reactions among businesses and investors as stocks have fallen sharply in both circumstances. As with any news cycle, these issues won’t be the end of the story.
For businesses and content producers, this news should give us reason to pause. It should cause us to consider how this impacts the kind of content we produce, the kind of engagement we desire, and how to track our audience through social media platforms.
Yet Facebook isn’t the only reason we should be evaluating our strategies. In fact, focusing on any one specific external factor that is tied to our marketing can lead us down the wrong path. We should be looking at the broader picture.
Is a digital marketing strategy that involves digital ads reaching places where customers are spending their valuable time important? Sure. But I would suggest that if businesses are more concerned about reaching customers with Facebook, they’re focused on the wrong prize.
Creating brand advocates, developing incredible experiences, and delighting people should be priority one.
We should be evaluating how our digital strategies foster those priorities. Here are three approaches that will help you weather the storms of social media and stay focused on important, overarching marketing goals.
Reevaluate Your Goals
Ever since Facebook became a viable communication platform, businesses and marketers have been doing their best to leverage it to reach current and potential customers. Advertisers are able to segment their content to specific users, and this has been extremely valuable to boost audience engagement.
But your goals should always take precedence over your tactics. For example, if your goal is to increase enrollment in your school, increasing likes or shares on your Facebook posts is not likely to have any impact on leads or enrollment. It may increase visibility, but driving engagement toward an actionable step (i.e. phone call, email, visit, etc.) will provide a metric that directly connects to the goal of growing enrollment.
In this example, what drives enrollment for your school? Is it a family tour? Is it a conversation with teachers? What are the steps and actions that typically lead to an enrollment?
Reevaluating your goals will inform how you should be using social media to engage and connect with your target market. It’s possible that engaging your audience by asking questions is a better approach than positioning ads.
Additionally, goals are not a set it and forget proposition. We should constantly be evaluating whether specific social media goals, that are tied to broader marketing objectives, are SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely). Is our goal to grow followers? Or, is it to increase engagement and interaction with our content? Each of our goals should directly impact our broader marketing objectives.
Communicate Your Value:
It’s tempting to assume that our target audience is on Facebook looking specifically for our content while scrolling through their feed. The reality is that the customer journey is filled with many stops at many different stages. To truly bring value to our audience, we must be constantly listening to and responding to their needs.
Sometimes we should step back before we can step forward. We achieve this by gaining a better understanding of what our customers value through asking and observing. Market research can take time. But the result will give you and your business incredible insight. Inevitably, you’ll find that your customers value different things at different stages. Sometimes they will want advice and other times facts and data.
“…the secret to appealing to customers, stakeholders, audience members and anyone you care about is to understand who they are and what they want.” Alison Davis
Once we have a solid understanding of what our customers value, we can develop content and communication that will speak directly to the customer need.
Reconsider the Buyer Journey:
The buyer journey is something that has been discussed in marketing circles for years. But have we invested time and resources into evaluating the way our customers use Facebook to influence their purchase decisions at these various stages?
Let’s first explore the foundations of a buyer journey. In its most basic form, the buyer journey is comprised of the stages before, during, and after a purchase. Those stages are usually identified by your customer as:
- Being aware there is a problem
- Considering what products or services will meet their needs
- Making a decision, or purchase
- Becoming an advocate/repeat customer
Your audience is at various stages of this journey. The value you provide through digital channels like Facebook should consider these stages and meet the right need. For example, if your audience is not aware they have a problem that your product/service solves, how do you educate them? If they have already purchased your product/service, are there benefits they would be willing to share with their friends?
Your customers use Facebook for a variety of reasons. It’s imperative that we walk a mile, or two in our customers’ shoes to understand their journey. Not only the problem they are solving, but how they use social media to meet those needs. What information are they looking for? Do they rely on specific resources or people to help inform their decisions?
The Ultimate Goal: Bringing Value to Customers
Platforms like Facebook will continue to change; however, you’ll be able to weather changes and develop a smart social media strategy with these three tactics. Ultimately, you want to bring value to your customers in a truly meaningful way.
Is your business using Facebook to reach your marketing goals? Has it made a positive impact on your business? What metrics are you tracking that are impacting your goals? Share your thoughts and ideas. We’d love to hear from you.