Why should your business invest in Facebook marketing? For starters, it’s the world’s largest social network with a whopping 2 billion users. In the United States and Canada alone, 183 million people use Facebook every day. To put that in perspective, that’s 80 million more people than the 103 million viewers that tuned into the 2018 Super Bowl.
The good news is you don’t need a budget of Super Bowl proportions to get into the game. Sharing valuable content that connects with fans and potential customers is your most important play.
Bonus: Download a free guide that teaches you how to turn Facebook traffic into sales in four simple steps using Hootsuite.
How to create a Facebook marketing plan in 9 steps
Step 1. Define your audience
How old are they? Where do they live? What kind of jobs do they have? What are their challenges and pain points? How and when do they use Facebook?
You’ll also need to get familiar with Facebook demographics. Once you know who uses the platform and how that maps back to your target customer, you can take a look at Facebook Audience Insights. Use the tool to drill down into the nitty-gritty details about potential customers. Find information on things like age, gender, education, relationship status, location, language, Facebook usage, and even past purchase activity. (For more details, check out our full tutorial on Facebook analytics.)
It can be tempting to focus on vanity metrics, like simply gathering as many Likes as possible. But unless those Likes are part of a broader marketing plan, they’re not going to provide a great return.
Step 2. Set goals
The goals will differ for every business, but they should all focus on actions that have a real impact on your bottom line—like generating leads, increasing conversions on your website, or improving customer service. But those are broad categories of goals. You’ll want to ensure your goals are much more specific and measurable. Here, we recommend using the S.M.A.R.T goal-setting framework.
Everything you do on Facebook—every post, every comment, every ad—should work to support your goals. To keep things on track, it’s a good idea to distill the essence of your strategy down into a Facebook mission statement for your brand. This will help you to maintain a consistent brand voice.
Step 3. Consider your content mix
Once you’ve set your goals, you need to create a plan for how to achieve them. A key part of that plan is determining the right content mix. We recommend starting with either the 80-20 rule or the social media rule of thirds.
If you follow the 80-20 rule, you’ll use 80 percent of your Facebook posts to inform, educate, and entertain, and the other 20 percent to promote your brand. Remember that using Facebook for business is all about building relationships, and self promotion is not a great way to do that. But if you provide enough value, your audience will be open to learning about your products and services in those 20 percent of posts that are more sales-focused.
The social media rule of thirds also prescribes a good mix of valuable content vs. promotional posts. That is, one-third of your content should share ideas and stories, one-third should involve personal interactions with your followers, and the remaining third can promote your business.
Either way, the goal is to provide more value than promotional material to keep followers engaged. Facebook’s algorithm will always penalize brands that push sales too hard.
Facebook wants its users’ news feeds to be full of content they want to Like and share. As a marketer, you should want that too. All those Likes and shares help extend your reach and put your brand in front of new eyeballs.
The final part of your plan is to determine when and how often to post. Even though the algorithm means posts don’t appear in chronological order, you have the best chance of making it to the top of the pile if you post when your audience is most active on the network.
This will take some trial and error to pin down for your specific business (using engagement data gleaned from Page Insights). But research generally shows that the best time to post is Thursday or Friday from 1 to 3 p.m., so that’s a good place to start. Since it’s important to post consistently, create a content calendar to help balance your mix of content types and keep your posting schedule on track.
Bonus: Download a free guide that teaches you how to turn Facebook traffic into sales in four simple steps using Hootsuite.
For more strategic planning ideas, check out our post on how to create a social media marketing plan.
Step 4. Create a Facebook Business Page
Once you have your audience, goals, and content strategy nailed down, it’s time to create a Facebook Page.
As Facebook puts it, your business’s profile is “a cornerstone of [your] online identity.” It’s where you post content and engage with followers. It doesn’t cost anything to set up a Facebook Page or post content, which is great if you’re working with a limited budget.
How big can a Facebook Page following get? Coca-Cola has one of the highest brand follower counts, currently sitting at more than 105 million.
But you don’t need millions of followers to make a Facebook Page worthwhile. Neon Retro Arcade in Pasadena, California, has about 25,800 followers. And the promotions they run on their Page have been successful enough that they’ve stopped advertising in their local newspaper.
Follow these step-by-step instructions to create your Facebook Page. In that tutorial you’ll also find tips on how to optimize your Page to better connect with your audience and grow your brand.
Keep the following Facebook marketing best practices in mind to maximize the effectiveness of your Facebook Page:
- Choose a search-friendly Page name: In most cases, this will be your brand name.
- Set a custom or “vanity” URL for your Page that’s consistent with your handle on other social networks.
- Make the most of your Page’s About section: Provide key information about your business, and let followers know how to get in touch with you.
- Since your cover and profile photos are the visual first impression for your Page, make sure they accurately represent your brand and encourage potential followers to engage.
- Add a call-to-action button, which provides an easy way for potential customers to get in touch with you, or even start shopping for your products. Set one up following Facebook’s detailed instructions.
For more inspiration, learn these lessons from six must-follow brands on Facebook.
Step 5: Start posting
Now you’re ready to start posting. First, let’s look at the different types of content you can post on Facebook.
Facebook text post
This is the most basic type of Facebook post. A text-only post can’t direct people to your website or drive conversions, but it can be used to spark engagement on your Page. Asking a question can be a great way to get people involved, like author and speaker Brian Tracy did in this text post:
Facebook photo post
Like a text post, a photo post is designed to build awareness or spark engagement, rather than supporting other business goals. And on that front, photo posts have plenty to offer. A study published in the journal Management Science found that adding photos to your posts significantly boosts the number of both Likes and comments.
Not sure where to find appropriate images to use in your Facebook posts? Check out our list of 20 free stock photo sites. And to keep yourself, and your brand, out of trouble, be sure you understand the basics of image copyright before sharing a photo online.
Also keep in mind that the “photo” in your post doesn’t have to be a photo at all. It could be any kind of image, like an infographic, illustration, or any other visual.
Facebook video post
A short video post can be compelling if your product has strong visual appeal. Since videos start to play automatically in the News Feed, even a clip that’s only a few seconds long can be a great way to catch someone’s eye. What ice cream lover wouldn’t pause for a moment over this video from Haagen-Dazs?
Longer video posts have emerged as a form of shareable content that can rack up thousands—or even millions—of views. Buzzfeed’s Tasty recipe videos are a prime example:
People now watch 100 million hours of video on Facebook every day. It’s clear that video posts can be an important way to connect with followers. Check out our four key ingredients of a perfect social video to get the most out of your Facebook video posts.
Facebook Live video
Facebook Live video is, not surprisingly, video broadcast live on Facebook. It can be a great way to interact with followers, or give them a behind-the-scenes look at your company, your product, or the personalities behind your brand. It’s also a great format to share announcements in real time, like this announcement of the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience tour.
Keep in mind that anything can happen when you go live, so be sure to prepare ahead of time by reading our complete guide to Facebook Live video.
Linked content post
A linked content post is exactly what it sounds like—a post that links to content outside of Facebook, like your website or blog. This is probably the easiest kind of Facebook post to create. But you still need to be thoughtful in your post.
To create a linked content post, all you need to do is copy and paste a link into the status box. Facebook will automatically pull the meta description and photo, so you get a great-looking post with very little effort. Then add text to tell readers why they should click through, and you’re set. While you’ll want to use most of your link posts to share your own content, you could also share content from other thought leaders in your industry. For example, Entrepreneur Magazine shared our post on how to create compelling Instagram captions.
So, how can you figure out exactly what content to post? One great way to learn what might resonate with your audience is to engage in social listening.
Find out what your customers, potential customers, fans, and even competitors are saying and posting online. These are valuable insights.
What do existing customers love about your company or your products? What challenges are people having that you know your product could help them address? How can you differentiate yourself from the competition? These are all questions that social listening can help you answer through your Facebook posts.
Have you Tweeted content that’s getting a great response? Share it on Facebook, too. Have a page on your blog that’s always getting new comments? That’s another Facebook post contender. For the best results, be sure to share your content using cross-promotion, rather than straight cross-posting.
A pinned post is simply a regular post that you “pin” to the top of your Facebook Page so it isn’t bumped down when you post new content.
You know that one piece of content that soars above the rest? The one that really captures your brand and shows potential followers exactly why they should Like your Page? Pin it.
You can also use this space to share important news, showcase an amazing video, raise awareness about a current campaign, or anything else that will get people to engage with your brand on Facebook. You can tell a post is pinned when you see a little blue thumbtack icon on the top left of the post.
You can only have one pinned post at a time, but you can change your pinned post as often as you like.
Step 6: Ramp up your Facebook Likes and followers
You’ve got your Facebook Page up and running, and you’ve started to populate it with compelling content using a variety of post types. Now it’s time to increase your Page’s visibility to get more followers and drive engagement.
First, make it easy for people you interact on other social networks to find your Facebook Page. Link to your Page in your email signature, newsletter, and other channels. Incorporate Facebook Like and share buttons on your website and blog to make it easy for people to find, follow, and share your Page in one click.
On that note, make sure the content you post to Facebook is highly shareable. It’s the best way to expand your organic reach. According to a study by the New York Times Customer Insight and Advertising Groups, “marketers should be focused on providing content that enhances consumers’ relationships with one another.” In other words, create valuable and entertaining content that followers will be happy to share with their connections.
It bears repeating here that Facebook is a social network. If Facebook users who try to interact with your brand get radio silence, you’re hardly being “social.” If you’re not engaged with your Page, why should your followers be? Followers who find themselves talking into a void will abandon your page for more responsive brands.
Your mantra here is reply, reply, reply.
Finally, part of maintaining a quality Page that encourages Likes is making sure it stays up to date. Schedule a monthly audit of your profile to check for and remove any outdated content. Make sure your About section is accurate, up-to-date, and on-brand.
Step 7. Consider creating a Facebook Group
Once you’ve started to build up your following, you may want to consider adding a Facebook Group to your marketing plan. With more than one billion people using Facebook Groups every month, it’s an audience too large to ignore. Think of Groups as the online equivalent of the office water cooler or your favorite coffee shop. They are a place for people to get together and share information and ideas with like-minded users in an online community environment.
Creating your own Facebook Group can be an effective way to gather your fans in one place and encourage them to interact with one another. Build an active community of people talking about your business. It’s a great way to gather customer intelligence. What are people really saying about you? It’s like a focus group with unlimited members—and you can facilitate conversation or ask questions.
You can also use Facebook Groups to showcase your expertise. Shirley Weir of Menopause Chicks has a private Facebook Group for women in her target demographic to come together and talk about personal topics. She builds trust and a sense of community while highlighting her knowledge and experience.
Your Group doesn’t have to be huge to create a lot of engagement. Between posts and comments, the 3,200 members of the Menopause Chicks group generated 8,000 interactions in August 2017 alone.
You can find step-by-step instructions on how to set up your own Facebook Group in our Facebook Groups 101 post.
Sometimes fans will create their own Facebook Group with a focus on your brand (search Facebook Groups for FitBit to see this in action). It’s a good idea to join these groups to make sure that the conversation is positive and factual. In general, though, this is a great thing. It shows your brand has a dedicated fan base that’s really into what you do!
Step 8. Incorporate Facebook ads
The Facebook algorithm prioritizes content from users’ friends and family. This means that not all—or even the majority—of your followers will see your posts organically. That’s where Facebook Ads come in.
Like any advertisement, a Facebook ad is content you pay to share with a specific, targeted audience. It’s about getting your brand in front of the right eyeballs and achieving your conversion goals.
Facebook has advertising options designed for business goals both on and off the network—from brand awareness and engagement to app installs and store visits. This video provides an overview of how to set up a Facebook ad campaign.
For more on how to launch a targeted Facebook ad campaign, check out our complete guide to advertising on Facebook.
An important note here: Even if you don’t plan to use Facebook ads right away, it’s a good idea to set yourself up with a Facebook pixel now. This will give you access to important data when you are ready to launch your first campaign. A Facebook pixel is a simple piece of code that you place on your website to track conversions, remarket to people who have already visited your website, and build targeted custom audiences for future ads. The pixel will start collecting data as soon as you place it on your site, so you’ll have remarketing and custom audience information ready when you start your first campaign.
Step 9. Track, measure, and refine
So, you’ve set S.M.A.R.T. goals for your Facebook marketing plan. Good. Now it’s time to track and measure performance. See what worked and what didn’t—and how you can improve your strategy in the future.
You can track audience engagement with content on your Facebook Page through Facebook Insights. This allows you to measure Likes, reach (how many people saw your posts), and engagement (how many people liked, clicked, shared, or commented). You can also see which of your posts result in people unliking your Page—critical information about what is not working.
Facebook Insights will also help you determine which post types are working best for your Page, so you’ll know if your current mix is working. There’s plenty more you can learn from Facebook Insights, and we’ve got all the details in our beginner’s guide.
For actions outside of Facebook (like purchases or other website conversions), you’ll need to use tools like Google Analytics, Hootsuite Impact, and UTM parameters. This may sound complicated, but we’ve created a detailed guide that walks you through the process.
Beyond tracking your success, it’s important to use the information about what’s working and what’s not to make adjustments to your strategy. The data will show you what you should keep doing, and which tactics you need to tweak. Through this continuous loop of goal-setting, measuring results, and tweaking your strategy, you can improve your performance over time.
Once you’ve got the strategies in this guide down, you can expand your marketing efforts by using Facebook to generate leads for your sales team, launching a Facebook contest, and incorporating Facebook Messenger to communicate with followers one-on-one or through chatbots.
There’s a lot to learn when it comes to Facebook marketing, and it might all seem a little overwhelming at first. The good news is you can get started without investing a dime. And then branch out into more complex strategies and paid campaigns as you gain more expertise.
Manage your Facebook presence alongside your other social media channels using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can schedule posts, share video, engage your audience, and measure the impact of your efforts. Try it free today.