While social sites like Pinterest and Tumblr are growing like wildfire and offering marketers plenty of opportunity to leverage new audiences, my money is still on Facebook in 2012 as the social site that will help marketers and business owners increase market share, gain new customers and ultimately generate more revenue.
But it’s not as simple as building that fan page or optimizing your Timeline. No, you need to go big with these six tactics that could be the difference between success and failure.
1. Go mobile
More than 33 percent of Facebook posting is mobile. And that number is growing.
Around 18 percent of people used Facebook through m.facebook.com, Facebook’s official mobile site. iPhone, Blackberry and Android were the next most commonly used devices.
Third party apps for iPad, Samsung, HP, Windows and Sidekick were less than 1 percent of total posts.
This means you could double your brand’s reach simply by optimizing your social content for mobile and integrating Sponsored Stories into your marketing.
Let’s look at how to do both those things.
- Using Sponsored Stories – Now that Sponsored Stories premium ad units have been rolled out, you now have the opportunity to advertise on mobile news feeds. Work these Sponsored Stories into an editorial calendar where you plan weekly status updates that feature in-store specials and coupons. The trick to bringing exposure to these stories is to use eye-popping images to help the posts stand out.
2. Create sweepstakes and contests
While there are ways to building a following that include basics like — posting regularly, engaging in discussions with their audiences, sharing viral videos and photos — nothing seems to be as effective at picking up new followers quickly like running a contest.
Many companies have reported that they’ve been able to capture more names for mailing lists, improve ROI and increase the number of fans through contests.
Last November, Facebook changed their contest rules so they weren’t as rigid:
- You don’t need permission from Facebook to run a contest.
- You don’t need a Facebook account rep.
- You don’t need to meet a minimum monthly ad spend.
- You still have to use a third-party app on Facebook to run each contest.
So what are the best third-party apps? Here are a few of my recommendations:
- Momentus Media
The Wildfire app seems to be the most popular. I like their interface because it is easy to use. And you can choose ten different ways to run a promotion:
3. Set Up a Storefront on Facebook
Facebook’s 800 million active users is more than all the people using Amazon or eBay combined.
That’s a huge customer base to tap into.
Of course, those 800 million users don’t think of Facebook as a place where you go and buy something, like they do on Amazon or eBay. But the adoption of Facebook as a place to shop is growing. Shoppers will become more and more accustomed to buying products on Facebook.
To make selling products on Facebook easy you should create a storefront — and these four applications will give you enough flexible options that fit every need.
1. Payvment – You can handle your entire e-commerce store through Facebook with this application that accepts credit card and PayPal payments. In addition, Payvment lets you customize charges for shipping and adjust for sales tax.
Other options include the ability to give discounts to people who like your page, add size or color options to items and sell multiple quantities of an item. This includes sales history and order status and you can even send messages to buyers through the app.
2. Storefront Social – With this app you create a tab on your business page and display your items in your online store. The templates that come with the app have options that let users share specific items on the social web. Users can also search your store via a search bar or through categories you customize. A basic package will cost you $9.95 a month. Unfortunately you can’t complete a transaction through Storefront Social. Instead users have to go to your website to complete the order.
3. BigCommerce SocialShop – This app also doesn’t let you complete transactions on Facebook but redirects your customers to BigCommerce’s online store where you are selling your products on their walls. This is the most expensive application at $24.95 a month.
4. Ecwid – This application does allow shoppers to complete transactions inside Facebook. The transaction goes like this: a shopper drags and drops items into a shopping bag. Then they check out. Plus, your storefront can be integrated into your website and other social sites like LinkedIn, MySpace or Tumblr. All you have to do is copy and paste a code for a widget. You’re looking at a monthly fee of $17 per month.
4. Use Facebook Insights to get inside your reader’s head
Another great must-use tactic is to get inside your reader’s head. The best way to do that is with Facebook’s Insights. How might this help you?
Log into your business page, then Insights and look at the page you want to examine:
You’ll see how many likes and visitors to your Facebook page, giving you a 30,000 foot view of engagement.
You’ll also want to look for trends in the stories and products you are promoting in this information to see what is gaining traction and what is not.
Then take a peek at the daily view to see how individuals are interacting with your content:
Then export all this data to a spreadsheet…
Then identify what people are responding to by analyzing the daily breakdown:
Go deeper into the heads of your fans by clicking through to “Get Details” on each report:
At this stage you can see how post views compare to unique views, likes versus comments and what sources are referring those actions.
If you are really curious you can drill further down into age, gender and country:
But don’t stop there. The real insights are in the stars on virality and community activity, which will help you to see not only what is motivating your fans but why.
5. Install Facebook comments box
While this is not really a do-or-die situation, it is something I think you should seriously consider. The social plug-in Comments Box allows users to comment on your site:
The Facebook Comment box will give you two advantages:
- Social relevance – You can leverage the social signals of users, which means that the comments are ordered from top to bottom via the highest liked comments, active threads, the most relevant comments and comments left by friends. In the end, this encourages even more interaction.
- Distribution – The kicker is that a discussion can spread to Facebook where people who are not on your blog or subscribed to your blog will see and then potentially interact. See, a user’s comment will show up on his Facebook stream when he or she keeps the “Post to Facebook” box checked with their comment. Then the comment and a link to the blog post is shown to their friends.
Directly inside Facebook people can now interact with that discussion…which is all linked to you and your Facebook page and your website.
It’s the perfect social commenting ecosystem.
The disadvantage to using the Comment box is that all your comments are in an iFrame, which means two things…search engines can not crawl the comments and Facebook owns those comments.
Here is a workaround that involves grabbing the comments from the API…
…and then sticking them into the body of the page.
That sounds like a lot of work because it is. So weigh the advantages and disadvantages of using the Facebook Comment box before you implement.
6. Update Your Page Regularly
Lastly, this is old school, but definitely within the sphere of do-or-die…posting regularly. In fact, this falls in line with 8 success criteria for Facebook page marketing that the Altimeter group discovered after doing some extensive research on Facebook success.
- Set community expectations
- Provide cohesive branding
- Be up to date
- Live authenticity
- Participate in dialog
- Enable peer-to-peer interactions
- Foster advocacy
- Solicit call to action
How do you think most brands measure up to this success criteria? Most of them fail.
Take a look at the 8 success criteria for Facebook page marketing slide share for the full report. And then start posting regularly!
If you are getting confused by all of the social media sites that are emerging and claiming to be the next big thing for marketers and business owners, let me calm your worries and recommend that the first thing you do this year is work on implementing the six Facebook tactics I shared with you.
True, Google+ is slowly rising in popularity and Pinterest and Tumblr are hot. But Facebook has the biggest customer base of them all, and has the money to continue its growth. You definitely can’t ignore it.
What other advanced Facebook tactics do you think will be important this year?
More from Neil Patel on GeekWire: Seven signs that you might just be an entrepreneur… Eleven things every entrepreneur should know about innovation… 17 things I wish I’d known when starting my first business…