Facebook’s Head of Small Business Marketing for Australia and New Zealand, Nick Bowditch, shares some of his tips for how to get the most out of using Facebook for your business.
Think about who influences your decisions even from a very early age.
Sure, your Mum and Dad, sisters and brothers, school teachers or even pastors and other mentors had some influence over you. But the real influence on your life, the power to change your mind and get you to try and buy different things, comes from your friends.
They probably encouraged you to have your first drink, to try a cigarette, and to be their wing-man at a high school party. They also probably critiqued your fashion sense, pressured you to buy a certain kind of car, and maybe even influenced where you went to university and what you studied.
Brands know the power of this friend influence – or at least they should.
And with the rise and rise of social media, the friend influence has now taken on a new scale. Now you might have hundreds of ‘friends’ influencing your decisions (far more than most of us can handle in real life), and now even their friends can have their say about your life decisions too.
So how can a brand or business make the most of this phenomenon? What’s the real benefit of influencing not only an individual but their friends, and the friends of those friends as well?
The first benefit is that it’s not you promoting yourself to the prospective customer, it’s their friends, your fans. Who are they more likely to listen to and believe the recommendation of?
80% of people polled in a recent study had been influenced enough by their ‘friends’ on social media to have changed their mind about a purchase decision. That’s huge. Especially when another study said that only 14% of us trust traditional advertising methods.
But the second and more powerful benefit – particularly for micro, small and medium-sized businesses is that marketing like that is absolutely free, because if you influence the friends of your fans (or potential fans) then you are effectively getting your fans to do your marketing for you.
So how do you make sure that the friends of your fans are getting the right message from your fans?
Make your brand message authentic.
The less contrived and ‘salesy’ your brand message is, the easier it will be for your fans to pass it directly on to their friends. Consumers are pretty savvy these days and they can smell a fake from a mile off. You don’t want to undermine the great effort your fans are making to help you grow your business by having a brand message that’s obviously trying to manipulate this kind of engagement.
Make your content shareable.
Whether it’s images or videos or any other kind of content, you need to make sure that it’s shareable by and to the largest section of your audience as possible.
For example, if the people you are trying to influence (the friends of your fans) are mostly staid, conservative and in their 50’s or 60’s, you need to make sure your content on Facebook for instance is not aimed at people who are in their teens or 20s and more liberal in nature.
And particularly on Facebook, posts with images tend to generate twice as much (or more) engagement than those without images. Think about something you might share on Facebook – are you more likely to share a piece of text like this or a beautiful, relevant and striking piece of imagery?
Find your advocates.
And finally, you need to look after the people who are naturally going to do most of the influencing for you.
You probably already know which of your fans these are.
They are the people who organise high school reunions. They know everybody’s birthday in the office – and circulate the card and buy their favourite cake. They are great chatters. Great connectors. Great advocates.
And they are gold to a business on Facebook.
Once you find them, you need to nurture them. Don’t just assume that they will always just keep spreading your stuff around (although they might). Actively seek them out, engage them, and reward them.
Often these people don’t want recognition or incentives, but even by offering, you will be ensuring that there will be a lot more positive information coming from them about your business for a long time into the future.
So, do you think influencing friends of your current fans is a good idea? And achievable? How are you influencing these people at the moment?
Editor’s Note: Want to learn more about Facebook for small business marketing? Join Nick and the Facebook team at Facebook’s Small Business Bootcamp sessions running across Australia and New Zealand in October and November.