Plan it. Build it. Post it. Analyze it.
Vermont’s small business owners recognize that social media now plays a starring role on the marketing stage. There are other important players, but the current trend shows that to successfully engage your customers, some form of social media is a must. There are many options to choose from, so The Starting Point asked digital marketing and business solutions specialist Andrea Bacchi, VtSBDC’s social media/ email marketing consultant and CEO of Vermont, online-based Think Dynamic Digital, to offer her comments. She suggested that Facebook, the largest social media platform, is a smart place to start.
Andrea has worked with diverse VtSBDC (Vermont Small Business Development Center) clients throughout the state and at various stages of their business. She tells The Starting Point that of the many questions that come up in client conversations, there are three that she hears most frequently. She shares those queries and her responses here to help small business owners get started with a new Facebook plan, or to reinvigorate their existing effort.
Q. Do I need to create a paid Facebook ad, or can I grow my business page organically?
A. The good news is that you can do a lot to grow your page organically before even thinking about placing a paid ad on Facebook. In fact, if you did pay for an ad and it linked to a Facebook Business Page with minimal content, it would not be very satisfying to the viewer and they may leave the page and find another business to meet their needs. Andrea recommends that you spend four to six months to optimize your Facebook page with frequent activity and dynamic posts that include questions, Call-to-Actions, and other types of valuable content to get your audience talking because “social” media is all about being social and connecting with people and businesses. This lets Facebook know that you are “active,” and will help you drive up engagement so more people see your content in their News Feed. Andrea adds that you should take a look at Facebook’s analysis page (insights) every week to ensure that you are optimizing your page with valuable content that your audience wants to see and engage with. It also is important to look at the popular times your content is viewed because if a post performed well at a specific time, then it’s important to try similar content types around that time. Part of the idea is trial and error for your industry and brand to see what works and what doesn’t. After several months, a paid ad may be a next step to get more reach. Andrea explains that Facebook ads have their time and place, but she recommends starting out organically to build a strong foundation.
Q. When it comes to Facebook’s various management tools, how do I know which one to pick? Business Manager, Creative Studio, or Business Suite – what’s the difference?
A. Facebook offers a variety of free management tools to help schedule and analyze your business page, but it’s challenging to decide which one is best for you. If you’re placing a Facebook ad, for example, Andrea recommends Facebook Business Manager. Andrea suggests that to make an informed decision on which management tool to use, take a look at this YouTube video by Social Media Examiner – she says it provides a clear picture of each option’s uses and benefits.
Q. Can I schedule posts in advance so I don’t get stuck wondering what to post, or get overwhelmed by having to do it every day?
A. Yes, you can! You can use Facebook’s free scheduling tools, or you can check out a third party source like Later, Hootsuite or Content Cal to help you plan your content and schedule it in advance. There are also many other tools you can use based on your budget and necessary features as they all offer something different. You can even use Google sheets or a Google doc spreadsheet if you have a Google Workspace account for your business email – whatever works best for you. To prevent “overwhelm,” Andrea recommends devoting some quiet time every week or month (whatever works best for your schedule) to plan your social media posts:
- Plan it – look at the calendar for holidays or notable dates, think about your upcoming events or what’s new in your business, and decide what dates you will post. Add to your spreadsheet or third party calendar.
- Build it – Andrea recommends Canva as a fun and easy way to build graphics and content for your posts. You can save them and easily upload them, creating content that will engage your audience.
- Post it – you have your plan and your post all ready with text and your graphic or photo, so you just have to add to your calendar and post on that date.
- Analyze it – use the Facebook tools or third party sources to see how you’re doing. Did you get likes, comments, or shares? If there’s a comment, this is your chance to join in the conversation. And if the post did well, you can save it and post it or something similar again in the future.
“It’s like putting pieces of a puzzle together,” Andrea concludes. “Once you get into a routine and you see that your page is gaining engagement and you’re growing your businesses brand awareness, you will build confidence and it will get easier. Remember to be consistent, post and analyze regularly, and take notice of what is working best for you.”
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