Facebook's social network domination may frequently get challenged by emerging social media platforms like Google+, but the facts remain. With more than 845 million members in its user base , it's still the most popular social network around.
And yes, businesses are beginning to understand its potential to help them achieve their marketing goals. In fact , 41% of B2B companies and 62% of B2C companies using Facebook have acquired a customer from it .
That being said, learning all the nuances of various social networks can be a tricky and time-consuming feat, especially considering how frequently they add, remove, and modify features. To help you stay ahead of the curve, we've put together a handy cheat sheet that businesses and marketers can use to make the most of Facebook .
35 Tips and Tricks for Mastering Facebook Marketing
1) Create a Business Page, Not a Profile
First things first. To maximize Facebook's business potential, you need to create a business page, not a personal profile, to represent your brand. Setting up a page is simple. Just visit https://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php , and follow the step-by-step setup instructions. (Already created a profile for your business? No worries -- Facebook now allows you to easily convert it into a business page .)
2) Claim Your Page's Vanity URL
3) Add a Creative Cover Photo
Facebook's new page design enables you to feature a 851 x 315 pixel 'cover photo' at the top of your business page. Get creative with it to capture the attention of new page visitors. Just be sure to follow Facebook's cover photo policies by excluding price/purchase information (e.g. "40% off" or "Download it at our website"); references to Facebook features/functions (e.g. "Like," "Share," etc.); contact information such as website address, email, mailing address, or information that should go in your page’s “About” section; and calls-to-action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends." Here are some awesome examples of business page cover photos to get your creative juices flowing.
4) Auto-Publish Blog Content
Start populating your page's timeline with content! If you maintain a business blog, you can connect your blog to auto-post links to new blog content you publish. Many blogging platforms like WordPress and HubSpot automatically offer this feature within its software; you'll just need to turn it on and sync it with your page. (Warning: Don't put too much emphasis on automation. It's okay to auto-publish some content, but make sure a real human is posting and engaging with your fans, too.)
5) Make Sure Meta Descriptions of Blog Posts Are Complete
Have you noticed that when you post a link to Facebook, it pulls in a brief description as well as an image? The description gets pulled from the page's meta description, so make sure any blog content you publish has a complete and enticing meta description to optimize its presence if it gets shared on Facebook.
6) Pin a Post Every 7 Days
Another feature of Facebook's new page design allows you to 'pin' or anchor one of the posts on your page's timeline to the top for 7 days at a time. Pinning content to the top of your page will prevent it from getting buried by more recent updates. Use this feature to highlight specific posts about remarkable content, calls-to-action for your best marketing offers, or other events/promotions you want to feature. Update your anchor pin every 7 days once the old one expires. To pin an update, hover over a story, click on the pencil icon in the top right corner, and choose 'Pin to Top.'
7) Star or Hide Posts
Modify the items in your page's timeline to highlight certain posts more prominently than others. By hovering over individual stories, you can make them wider and more prominent on your page by clicking the star icon, or hide them from your timeline (or delete them entirely) by clicking on the pencil icon.
8) Leverage Your Most Visual Content
Facebook's new timeline page design places more of an emphasis on visual content like images and videos, so use that to your advantage. According to an internal Facebook study, "posts including a photo album or picture can generate 2X more engagement than other post types." Because these images will now appear larger and more prominently on your page, make it a point of posting your best visual content to your Facebook page, or make more of an effort to make the content you already create more visual . Think photos, charts, infographics, and other content visualizations. And hey -- you can always use it on other visual-oriented social networks like Pinterest and Google+, too!
9) Create Custom Page Tabs
While Facebook's new page design eliminated the ability to create a designated 'Welcome Landing Page' for new visitors to your Facebook page, you can still create and leverage custom tabs which are accessible via the 'Views & Apps' section of your page (see tip #17). Think of these as landing pages within your Facebook page. Learn how to create custom tabs here , which you can use as calls-to-action to feature anything from case studies to marketing offers to other promotions you're running. (Note: HubSpot has an app in our App Marketplace that streamlines and simplifies the process of creating Facebook tabs with knowledge of code required -- the Facebook Tab Customizer . While Facebook's new design no longer allows you to create a designated lead generating welcome page like you might have done before with the Facebook Welcome App , you can use the Facebook Tab Customizer App to create create custom tabs containing lead-gen forms so you can convert page visitors into leads ... right within Facebook!)
10) Add Milestones
Another feature the new Facebook page design supports is 'Milestones,' which allows you to call attention to significant events in your business’ history. Use the feature to highlight some of your business' biggest accomplishments, such as fan growth, award wins, product releases, major events, or other accolades. You create a new (or past) milestone via the status update box, which will prompt you to input information about your milestone such as its name, location, date, story description, and an image, which is set at 843 x 403 pixels .
11) Use Facebook Insights
Facebook Insights is Facebook's internal analytics tool right that helps you measure and analyze your Facebook presence . The tool provides Facebook page administrators with analytics data about page visits and engagement and can help you understand which content is and isn't engaging to your fans. Access your page's Insights at http://www.facebook.com/insights or by clicking into the 'Admin Panel' on your page. We've also published an informative blog post and video that walks you through how to analyze Facebook Insights to improve your content strategy.
12) Tag Other Users and Business Pages
Although you used to only be able to tag other users on Facebook, you can now tag other pages , too. Make your page more engaging and interactive by enabling others to post content on your timeline. Enabling this feature will also automatically publish posts to your page's timeline that are from other users who have tagged your page in their posts. To enable this, check off "Everyone can post to HubSpot's timeline" and "Show the box for 'Recent Posts by Others' on the top of HubSpot" in 'Manage Permissions.'
13) Connect Your YouTube Channel
Does your company have its own YouTube channel? Add the YouTube App to your Facebook page so your fans can view your YouTube videos directly within Facebook.
14) Add the SlideShare App
Similar to the YouTube App, you can also add a SlideShare tab to your page that will also pull in your SlideShare presentations.
15) Connect Your Flickr Account
While you're at it, why not pull in your Flickr photos with the Flickr App , too?
16) Create an Open Graph App
With Facebook's new Open Graph applications, you're not just limited to other people's apps -- you can also create your own apps that support your very own marketing initiatives! The new and improved Open Graph allows third-party developers to create 'frictionless' apps that, after a user provides permission once , automatically share users' engagement with the app on Facebook. Furthermore, users' friends are easily able to join in on this shared activity. Furthermore, the new Open Graph apps support customizable calls-to-action, which you may have already noticed in apps already floating around Facebook like Spotify, Hulu, and the Washington Post , which prompt Facebook users to "read," "watch," and "listen." Creating an app for your business will obviously involve a developer's time, but if you're interested, we have a list of ideas to get you start brainstorming here , and Facebook has published guidelines on how to get your application integrated with Facebook here .
17) Organize Your Views & Apps
After you've added new custom tabs and apps to your page, organize them! Facebook's new page design features photos, likes, and apps at the top of your page below your cover photo. Photos are automatically featured in the first spot, but page admins can rearrange the rest to highlight the most important ones first. Overall, a total of 12 apps can be shown here. Four are visible at the top of the page, and the rest can be viewed when page visitors click the dropdown arrow (highlighted in orange in the image below). Admins can also customize the images that get shown for each app in this toolbar using the 'Manage' >> 'Edit Page' dropdown via the 'Admin Panel,' which is accessible at the top right of their business page.
18) Use Links & Calls-to-Action to Generate Leads
Start generating leads from Facebook! Optimize your page for lead generation by posting links to landing pages for content behind forms, and add calls-to-action (CTAs) to the custom tabs on your page. [Bonus! Research suggests that links shared on Facebook have a high impact on SERP (search engine results page) rankings.]
19) Use Questions/Polls for Fan Feedback
In the status update bar on your page, you have the option of posting a question or a poll (click on 'Add Poll Options'). Use this to ask your fans for feedback about your products/services or the content you post to your timeline. The possibilities are endless, and it's a great way to engage your fans and increase participation on your page.
20) Experiment With Interest Lists
'Interest Lists' are a feature that allows users to organize updates into separate topics from a collection of fan pages and/or public figures who have the subscribe button enabled on their profile. For example, a user could create a "Recipes" Interest List, adding to it fan pages like Betty Crocker and the Food Network, as well as the profiles of their favorite food bloggers to which they subscribe. Users can also subscribe to Interest Lists created by other people, as Facebook suggests popular lists and make it easy for users to discover lists created by their friends. Consider experimenting with Interest Lists by creating awesome lists in your industry; promoting the 'Add to Interest Lists' button on your Facebook page; creating content about industry news so your updates are the first to show up in any lists your business is apart of; and creating a must-subscribe, content-rich Facebook presence.
21) Customize Who Can View Your Posts
Facebook's response to Google+'s Circles feature was a feature that enables users to customize who can see their Facebook posts . For your Facebook page, this means you can limit posts to only display to fans in a certain location or language.
22) Schedule Posts in Advance
Using a third-party Facebook application like HootSuite or HubSpot's social media publishing tool , you can schedule Facebook posts in advance. However, just as we advised against too much Facebook automation with blog auto-posting, the same holds true for scheduling. Don't get caught in the trap of turning your page into a robot, and make sure you're actively engaging with your fans, too.
23) Understand the Impact of EdgeRank
EdgeRank is Facebook's algorithm for deciding what gets shown in a user's news feed. It's important to understand that not every post published to your page's timeline will be visible to every one of your fans. A post's engagement level factors into your content’s ability to spread across Facebook. Interactions with a post such as a Like, share, comment, tag, etc., create what Facebook calls an “edge.” The more edges an object has, the more likely it will be displayed in a user’s News Feed. This means it's important to post engaging content so your fans are more inclined to interact with it, thus increasing its reach.
24) Add Facebook Social Plugins to Your Blog/Website
Promote your business' Facebook presence and help your content spread on Facebook by adding Facebook Social Plugins to your website and/or blog. This will encourage visitors to your site to also interact with you and become your fan on Facebook as well as spread your content and expand its reach. Social Plugins include 'Like' buttons, 'Share' buttons, and more.
25) Encourage Your Business' Execs to Add the 'Subscribe' Button
Encourage the public-facing executives and thought leaders in your business to
add the subscribe button
to their personal Facebook profiles and share your business' content. This will help extend the reach of your business content. Furthermore, individual people can only be added to the Interest Lists we mentioned in tip #20 if they've implemented the subscribe button, so doing so will enable users who are creating new Interest Lists to add your business' thought leaders to their list, increasing the chances of exposing your business' content to people who subscribe to those lists.
26) Subscribe to Facebook's Official Blog for New Feature Announcements
Give yourself a competitive edge. Stay on top of the latest announcements from Facebook such as new features and tools by subscribing to the official Facebook Blog .
27) Monitor Activity on Your Business Page
Don't neglect your Facebook presence. Use social media monitoring software like HubSpot or a third-party app like HootSuite to monitor activity and regularly participate in your Facebook page. A page that is engaging and updated regularly will be much more successful than a static one.
28) Switch Your Posting Identity Between a Personal Profile and a Page
As a page administrator, within your page's settings you can choose to always post to your page with that page's identity (i.e. If I post to HubSpot's page when I'm using Facebook as my personal profile, it will show as posted from 'HubSpot.'). Furthermore, if you want to use your page's identity in general, you can switch that as well. Doing so will enable you to receive notifications about activity on your page, see stories from the pages you Like in your news feed, and interact with other pages as your page. Just click on 'Account,' then choose 'Use Facebook as Page.'
29) Experiment With Facebook's Ad Platform
Test the effectiveness of Facebook's advertising platform for your business. Here's a complete ebook on the subject to help get you started . Then become well versed in Facebook's ad metrics so you know how your ads are performing.
30) Use Group Chat for Collaboration
Facebook recently introduced Group Chat into its mix of features. In the Facebook chat pane, click on a user you want to chat with. Then click on the icon between the video icon (oh yeah -- you can do a 1 on 1 video chat, too!) and the 'x' icon, and choose 'Add Friends to Chat.' Think of it as a chat room that can enable you to collaborate with teammates or conduct a small, live focus group with prospects or customers.
31) Enable Messages
With Facebook's new page design update, page admins can now allow users to send them personal messages. This makes it much easier for admins to engage in private conversations with their fans. Use this feature when you need to discuss a topic or customer service issue in more depth, and when you'd prefer the conversation not be made public for all page visitors to see. We don't recommend limiting methods of communication available to your fans, but admins can also choose to turn off messaging capability by accessing the Admin Panel , choosing 'Manage' >> 'Edit Page' >> 'Manage Permissions,' and unchecking the 'Messages' box.
32) Integrate Facebook With Google+
Download the Google+Facebook extension (currently available for Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Firefox) to add an extra tab to your Google+ account, which accesses your Facebook news feed. The tab also enables you to Like, comment, or post status updates to Facebook from your Google+ account.
33) Take Advantage of Facebook Keyboard Shortcuts
Use Facebook at the speed of light with Facebook keyword shortcuts for Google Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer. Access Facebook's keyword shortcuts here .
34) Launch Contests
Contests can be a great way to increase engagement and attract new fans for your page. Be aware of Facebook's contest/promotion guidelines , and consider using an application like Wildfire, which works closely with Facebook to make sure its guidelines are followed appropriately. Here's a helpful blog post on the subject if you want to learn more.
35) Add More Page Administrators, Engage, and Be Social
As we mentioned before, although there are a lot of tools available to help you maximize the effectiveness of your Facebook presence, remember that social networks are based on the concept of being social. Make sure there is a member of your team devoted to managing your business' Facebook presence and that they're committed to participating using a real, live human voice. You can also add more than one administrator for your page when you're editing your page under 'Manage Admins' to help you split the responsibility among team members.
What other Facebook marketing tips and tricks would you recommend for making the most of a business' Facebook presence?
Photo Credit: Urs Steiner