Social media has redefined the way retailers market products. Direct response advertising is still useful, but it is now accompanied by an ever-increasing emphasis on content creation and word-of-mouth, which social networks such as Facebook and Twitter facilitate.
This article outlines a process by which merchants can use these three forms of media — “owned,” “paid,” and “earned” — on Facebook to increase engagement, extend reach, and turn likes into sales.
To start, let’s define what we mean by each term as it relates to ecommerce merchants.
- Owned media. Content created by merchants for use on Facebook Pages.
- Paid media. Ads such as Facebook Promoted Posts and Sponsored Stories.
- Earned media. Conversations about brands and products shared among Facebook users.
Facebook’s platform enables each of these formats to integrate with the others to increase their overall impact.
1. Owned Media: Create Engaging Content
The first step is to create content that your current fans want and will likely to engage with.
What types of content qualify as engaging?
- Promotional. This includes product announcements, as well as Facebook-only promotions, exclusive discounts, and free trial offers. A September 2012 study from market research company Lab42 found that, of the 87 percent of Facebook users who like business pages, 34 percent do so to receive promotions and discounts. Another 21 percent reported liking pages to obtain free products.
- Informational. It makes sense that fans will respond to content focused on their needs and interests. This demands that merchants get to know their fans and understand the target audience they are attempting to reach.
A good rule of thumb is to make 80 percent of your content informational, and 20 percent promotional.
Here are some tips to increase engagement with content you create.
- Use images. According to KissMetrics, an analytics and tracking firm, images and photos receive 39 percent higher interactions than average posts, and receive 53 percent more likes, 104 percent more comments, and 84 percent more clicks. Include an image in most, if not all, of your posts.
- Keep posts short. Posts with less than 80 characters get 23 percent higher engagement.
- Post 1 to 2 times per day. Among retail brands, posting 1 to 2 times per day gets 40 percent more engagement than posting 3 or more times per day.
- Schedule posts for optimal days and times. Facebook activity peaks around 3 p.m. Eastern Time each day. There are also spikes around 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. Wednesday seems to the be most active day during the week. Schedule posts to take advantage of these peaks.
- Pin and highlight posts. Pin important posts to the top of your page to increase exposure, as well as highlight such posts so they span the width of both columns in the Timeline.
- Use Facebook Insights. Use Facebook Insights to analyze the types of content fans most respond to, as well as the effect post format, frequency and time of day has on engagement.
2. Paid Media: Amplify Content with Ads
Use Facebook Promoted Posts to extend reach and increase longevity of posts that receive higher engagement.
You can assign Promoted Posts to either reach fans and friends of fans, or target a group of users based on age, gender, location and language. People will see the post in the news feed on either their desktop computer or mobile device. When fans engage with your post, their friends may see the story in their news feed, enabling you to extend your reach.
You can also include a Sponsored Story to further amplify the post. Sponsored Stories do not require any additional budget, but will share the cost with your current ad.
3. Earned Media: Interact with Fans
It’s important to interact with fans and others who engage with your posts.
Some engagement tips include the following.
- Respond to comments. This lets fans know you’re interested in what they have to say and may increase the likelihood they will continue to pay attention to your posts over time.
- Get fans involved. Ask fans to create their own content and share it on your Page. Also, ask fans to take action on your posts. This could include asking them to like a post, vote in a contest, or share the post with their friends. Asking questions helps, too. Posts that include questions garner 100 percent more comments than “non-question” posts.
- Feature fans. Feature a “fan of the week” and include testimonials from customers who are also fans of your Page.
Facebook makes it easy to integrate owned, paid and earned media to increase the effectiveness of your marketing. To take advantage of this capability, create engaging content, promote content that receives the most engagement using ads, and interact with fans and others to stimulate continued interest.