If you’ve been keeping an eye on news regarding Facebook then you haven’t missed the multitude of articles discussing whether the change to Timeline has been a good or bad thing for business pages and fan engagement.
Numerous studies have been released saying that pages are seeing an increase in fan engagement since the switch and right behind those are studies revealing the exact opposite. So which is true? The answer is neither.
The truth is, it’s always been a Timeline era. The switch to Timeline has not changed any of the rules on Facebook. Was it easier to market prior to Timeline? Yes. But just because it was easier doesn’t mean it was being done properly. Businesses with a strong social media strategy that has proven to work will continue to see success with Timeline. The businesses that are blaming Timeline for negative changes in engagement are going to be disappointed to learn the problem is probably with their social media strategy, not with Facebook.
Marketing in the Timeline era is about getting back to basics. With all the hype surrounding Timeline, here’s some tips that businesses may have forgotten to truly be successful on Facebook.
Focus on Your Existing Fan Base
Don’t exclude your existing fans. Businesses were obsessed with default landing tabs and many were convinced the world was going to end when Facebook took them away. In fact, Francisco just wrote an article on how custom tabs aren’t dead but more alive than ever. He accurately addresses how custom tabs weren’t as successful as everyone had previously thought; and how custom tabs are now more successful than they’re being credited for.
Facebook has never been about getting in the face of a million strangers, it’s about getting your message out to your fans — your fans who already love you and want to share how cool you are with their friends. Facebook is organic and referral-based by nature — something businesses need to keep in mind when building a successful Facebook presence.
If you’re unsure how to engage your fans, run some test content. Try posting an update with a video or a photo, show trends, pick an interesting fact about your history and post something new each week, offer an awesome deal or a prize for entering a contest. Use Facebook analytics to see what your fans are responding best to and use your existing fans to bring you new fans. Facebook analytics are free to all business page owners. In addition, if you use a third party application to create custom tabs on Facebook, most platforms include their own analytics that track engagement.
Measuring fans does not measure success
We touched on this lightly before, but it’s worth mentioning again. We hear clients say everyday, “I want to create a tab that gets me more fans.” Any social media guru, marketer, or expert will tell you, it’s not about getting more fans, and it never has been.
If you have 5,000 fans and you hold a contest and your fan base increases to 10,000 fans, that’s great for your likes, but did your actions increase? In the long run, gaining 5,000 new fans won’t mean anything for your business if none of those fans are engaging with your brand.
Use Timeline for its advantages
Yep, you heard right, Timeline has advantages. We’re not just talking about the ability to pin and highlight posts, we’re talking about the transparency that the Timeline layout offers. For the first time since traditional websites, Facebook now allows a business to tell their story, from day one. There is room for a huge amount of content on the page. Without default landing tabs, everyone who visits your page learns about your history and sees how you engage with your fans.
It’s now more important than ever to make sure your Facebook content is clean and up to date. You need to be answering questions, thanking your happy customers, and dealing with your unsatisfied customers. Someone interested in your business can see all of this upon visiting your page, so their first impression of your business is in your hands. This means that Timeline can be either beneficial or detrimental to a business’s Facebook page.
Facebook takes time
“Social networking is a full time job” has become a cliche in our line of work, but the adage is true. A successful Facebook presence takes lots of effort and tremendous amount of time and thought. It also takes more than just Facebook to make your page successful. Once you’ve built an amazing page you have to give fans a reason to talk about your brand, so advertise it by posting on your wall, promoting it through email newsletters, even purchasing Facebook ads.
A successful Facebook page does not happen overnight. Timeline has pulled the veil back on what consumers are really interested in. It’s proven that likes aren’t everything, and for some businesses, has revealed the truth about their social media strategy. The key is not to be scared of Facebook, or throw blame at Timeline. Just get back to the basics. It’s the simplest steps that are the most successful, and often times, the most overlooked.