Lauren Blecher

Social media is changing marketing as we know it. Whether you’re an agency marketer or a small business owner, chances are you’ve given some serious thought as to how social media can benefit your business – and Facebook is the most popular social (and social marketing) platform on the web. Still, Timeline has thrown a wrench in many marketers’ plans – and you may be one of many who want to start your social media marketing campaign from scratch in light of the recent, visual update.

With more than 900 million users worldwide, creating a Facebook Page is a no brainer. It’s the steps that come afterward that are trickier. Many brand Pages struggle to grow Likes after their initial creation and engagement quickly dissipates as content becomes stale. It seems like there’s an abundance of news out there about social media-driven ROI from remarkable brands like Chobani, Whole Foods, and Oreo, but marketers struggle to effectively scale these lessons learned for our own brands.

The good news is that with a little bit of planning and creativity, you can transform your Facebook marketing efforts into a solid, revenue-driven campaign strategy. Timeline can be used to better showcase your brand. In fact, Brafton has reported that a number of companies claim their engagement increased with the launch of Timeline.

Taking the time to develop a Timeline-friendly Facebook campaign can pay off. As a comScore study recently reported, consumers familiar with a brand’s social media marketing are more likely to buy than the average customer. And once you’ve got the basics down, promotions exclusive to your Facebook fans are a powerful incentive for increasing your reach and making your presence known.

In part one of this guide, we’ll cover how to start your Facebook campaign from scratch in light of Timeline. Then, in part two, we’ll look at ways you can build winning promotions to better engage Facebook audiences.

Give your fans a reason to follow your brand on Facebook.

Timeline is extremely visual-focused, and the layout makes it more obvious than ever before if you’re simply broadcasting advertisements for your products and services. Instead sprinkle in calls to action while providing value to your target audience with content that enriches the brand experience and educates the consumer.Facebook tabs

It’s essential to be sharing a wide variety of content on your wall to engage different types of users with posts that look fresh. Brafton has reported that even before Timeline, more than one-third of Americans said they stopped following brands  because the content became reptitive or boring.

When posting Facebook content, you should consider the visual appeal of Timeline makes your wall much more of a hot spot with the potential for people to interact on it. The former tabs that marketers relied on to promote specific campaigns or “Welcome” pages have all but disappeared. In fact, since the rollout of Timeline, custom tabs are garnering 53 percent less clicks – the focus should be on what you share on your brand’s wall. You should get to know the new Timeline features (like Milestones!) you can use to better showcase things on your wall.

Use this checklist for crafting a dynamic Facebook Timeline:

  • Update your page with compelling, fresh content several times a week. Twenty percent of users spend more time on the site now that Timeline has rolled out, according to an Ipsos study.  You’ll want to catch people with fresh updates whenever they are online.
  • Use the milestone feature to highlight important company events while telling a story about your brand.

A Facebook Milestone dominates Timeline space and highlights special events or updates.

  • Take advantage of Timeline’s increased emphasis on images. A Simply Measured study shows photos and videos are more popular on Facebook since Timeline has launched. Rather than sticking with a simple status update, create a graphic post to highlight important announcement. Picture posts are not only more aesthetically pleasing, but are also weighted heavier in Facebook edgerank.
  • Use Facebook questions to get fan feedback on your product or service. Then, take it a step further and take action with this feedback. Fans will feel empowered and more likely to engage if they feel their opinion matters.
  • Be responsive and field customer or client requests. Facebook pages are now widely expected to be an extension of your customer service – and 60 percent of businesses are already using social for customer service, so you don’t want to be left behind.

Maximize your organic reach and evaluate the effectiveness of your post timing.

Take a close look at your Facebook Insights. Make note of any patterns in engagement rate as well as daily Likes or Unlikes. Did you notice a few Unlikes on one day?Twitter and Facebook activity varies differently, and marketers should adjust their campaigns accordingly.

Take note of how often you posted that day and what content may have provoked the fan to leave, Are there any particular days of the week or time of days that tend to receive a higher response rate? Brafton has reported that Buddy Media data shows weekday Facebook engagement peaks during “non-busy” hours between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. You may find your audience has different activity patterns.

Regardless of when your activity peaks, make the most of these trends and plan your content calendar around these times. For example, if you notice your Facebook activity spikes around Wednesday afternoon, schedule a weekly trivia question on this day. Fans will be more inclined to return to your page if they know when to expect new content.

Here’s a look at positive results for one Brafton client that implemented our content checklist and post schedule for post-Timeline Facebook success:

Once it switched to Timeline, Brafton gave it 4 posts per week during the time we found most optimal for its audience. These posts included shared industry news content from the brand, brand-appropriate images, interactive posts (asking comments or inviting feedback from users) and a poll.

By giving your basic approach to Facebook a Timeline facelift, you can build engagement to be better than ever. In part two of this blog series, we’ll look at using Promotions to take your Facebook marketing to the next level.