There's no denying times are tough right now for many businesses. Between the ongoing pandemic and the nationwide protests, there is a lot of uncertainty out there.
I believe, however, that one of the best ways to persevere is through education.
I'm not talking about going back to school, though choosing to do so is never a wrong decision.
Instead, I'm referring to educating yourself through data collection and analytics. Once you have a clear idea of how your brand is performing, you can take that knowledge and make adjustments to your business strategy to help grow your audience and increase sales.
In this issue of The Can-Do Quarterly, we focus on how you can use your online data to increase your marketing efforts through social media's most popular platform - Facebook. You'll find information about how algorithms control what you see on social media, and how to use Facebook Insights to improve your content marketing strategy. We're most excited to have Facebook expert, Mari Smith, weigh in on the importance of tracking your Facebook data by answering some of the most often asked questions.
From all of us at NFICA, use the power of data to inform your decisions in business and life. You can do this!
Q&A with Premier Facebook Marketing Expert Mari Smith
We reached out to Mari to answer some questions about how small businesses and independent contractors can take advantage of Facebook’s always evolving platform to help grow their businesses.
1. What’s a little known secret to making the FB algorithm work in your favor?
Focusing on video content! Facebook definitely favors video in the news feed, especially live video. Plus, consistency. It's best to publish content daily if possible, or certainly multiple times a week. It does depend on the number of likes/followers you have, though. Larger pages can often publish a higher volume.
2. When looking at your post metrics which is a more important engagement or engagement rate and why?
I like to recommend marketers put metrics into two buckets:
The three important business metrics, which are traffic, leads, and sales
All other metrics, which are 'proxy metrics' sometimes even called vanity metrics. Certainly, Reach, Likes, Followers, Video, Comments, Shares etc. are all good and needed to a certain extent. But, small business owners and independent professionals would do well to not focus too deeply on those. Simply keep an eye on your own benchmarks for Engagement and Engagement Rate, as well as negative feedback (Post Hides, Hides of all Posts, Reports of Spam, Unlikes of Page). The latter can be an indication that your content is not resonating with your audience. So bottom line: engagement matters. But the business metrics matter more.
3. What elements will make a business post most successful?
Storytelling through short-form video. Ideally, the message in a business post should come across just as relatable as the content people see from their Facebook friends in the feeds. Aim for videos that are 30 seconds to three minutes. Capture attention within the first three seconds or less. Put the spotlight on your prospects and customers, not on you. Make the video compelling, relatable, and personable as much as possible. You on camera can work. Your team/staff and/or customers on camera are good, too. Plus, a blend of stock footage. Using an online video creation tool like InVideo.io or Wave.video really helps. It's totally fine to put a CTA (call-to-action) in all your social media posts, so long as you're adding value, too.
If you sell clothing or cookware, for example, show real people wearing/using the products. Tell stories through images and videos that take people on a journey, even a 'micro-journey.' Life before the product, how they discovered the product, and how much they love it now. Mix up this storytelling content with images of the product, if you wish, showing features and emphasizing benefits. Always make it clear where to find out more, and where to buy!
4. Are there any emerging marketing trends coming to Facebook that small business owners should be aware of?
The newly-updated Facebook Shop will have an impact on many small business owners, if they are in a position to sell retail products directly. Facebook is allowing businesses to have a unified presence across both Facebook and Instagram, and soon will also allow checkout in Messenger and on WhatsApp. This provides a seamless experience for the customer; they can choose where they want to order products and receive follow-up customer support messages from you. The new Facebook Shops also have AI features that auto-tag products in photos, as well as VR elements that allow prospects to try on items like sunglasses and makeup, or see what a household item would look like in their home or office.
In addition, Facebook is bringing out the ability to do real-time shopping while streaming on Facebook or Instagram. This could be a game-changer for many small business owners, retails, and independent contractors.
5. How is Facebook changing the way entrepreneurs use its platform for content marketing?
For the past couple of years, Facebook has placed significant emphasis on video content, building out its Watch platform with original shows funded and produced by Facebook, e.g. Sorry for Your Loss, Ball in the Family, etc. Facebook will keep pushing and rewarding the best original video content. Especially episodic. Marketers that can come up with an ongoing series of video content should find it easier to build, retain and monetize an audience.
Another aspect is Facebook Groups. I strongly recommend setting up at least one public group where you can create deeper discussions with your audience. Groups are a great way to provide extra value, but also to crowdsource content for your marketing, test out concepts, get feedback and more. Red Table Talk does this well with a highly engaged viewer group. I have my own Social Scoop group for breaking news and in-depth discussions on all things Facebook and social media marketing!
Facebook Insights: The Results That Matter The Most
As of April 2020, Facebook has more than 2.6 billion active users a month globally and still reigns supreme as one of the most popular social media sites worldwide. It's constantly evolving the way algorithms are used to present information to its audiences in a useful and meaningful way.
If you're using Facebook to promote your business, you need to be using Facebook Insights and Analytics! These offer invaluable information into your follower demographics, the best time of day and day of the week to post, and what content is most popular. Tracking your data allows you to refine your social media strategy to grow your business.
What Facebook Algorithms Are Looking For
When it comes to Facebook, its algorithms look for data points and ranking signals. Data points measure a user's past behavior and every other user's behavior in three distinct ways:
The popularity of the content
The type of media used (video, link, photo,etc.)
What a user interacts with regularly
This means that its algorithms generally rank content that sparks discussions higher, to be seen by wider audiences, rather than spammy links to other websites and clickbaity article headlines.
Key Insights To Track When Using Facebook Insights
Facebook Analytics tools can be overwhelming. To make it simple, we'll focus on some of the key metrics that matter most for your business.
To find your Facebook Business Page Insights go to:
Your Facebook Business page
Click on Insights from the menu bar above your cover image
You will immediately see an Overview section to get a quick assessment of your Page performance. You can choose to see metrics for Today, Yesterday, Last 7 Days or Last 28 Days.
You'll notice a menu on the left-hand side under Overview. We've chosen to discuss those metrics that we feel are most important for beginners.
People and Demographics
First, we'll look at the demographics of the PEOPLE who like or follow your page. You will see the age group, gender, location, and language.
"Your Fans" are the people who "Like" your page. "Your Followers" elect to "Follow" your page but don't "Like" your page. "People Reached" are those who had any content from your page enter there feed. This explains it further.
PEOPLE demographics are useful to know so you can create content that will appeal to your fans and followers. For instance, if you sell cosmetics and you've been creating content geared towards women 40+, but it turns out a large percentage of women under the age of 35 are interacting with your Facebook page, you need to create content that would appeal more to that age group.
Your Posts Matter
Next, we'll look at POST data. First, you'll see "When Your Fans Are Online," "Post Types," and "Top Posts From Pages You Watch."
View When Your Fans Are Online - Pay special attention to the time of day and days of the week your fans are online, so you can alter your posting schedule accordingly to maximize visibility. These charts don't tell you when your fans saw your content but rather how many of your fans are on Facebook at a given time.
The Post Types displays the type of content (photo, link, or video) that produces the highest reach and average engagement.
It's no secret that Facebook emphasizes video content. Your videos should keep people engaged. According to Facebook, video view time should be at least one minute. The algorithm will demote videos from other channels, so a YouTube link is not a good idea. Test shorter and longer native videos, and Facebook Live, to see which provides the most engagement.
Individual Post Data
Before analyzing individual post data you need to understand some basic terminology.
Impressions - the total number of times your content is displayed in the newsfeed.
Reach - the total number of unique people who have seen your content.
For example, if someone sees your post in their Facebook newsfeed and sees that same post when a friend shares it, that would count as two impressions but only one reach.
Further, the algorithm decides based on the posts interactions (engagement) whether or not to expand the reach and show the post to more of your followers. That's why it's critical that your content matches the interests of your followers.
Engagement- the number of actions people take involving your post. This includes comments, shares, clicks, and likes.
Engagement Rate - engagement expressed as a % of the total number of followers.
Patricia Diazsays, "It's simple math: if your page has 1,000 likes but a 1% engagement rate, that's not great. But if you have 100 followers and a 1% engagement rate, that's actually not that bad."
Speaking of Engagement ...
According to Betsy Hindman, founder of digital marketing agency Hindman Company, "Your engagement and engagement rate is the most valuable measurement of how your Company Page is doing, as opposed to the number of likes your Page has. Even with a high number of likes, many organizations see their content mostly ignored. On the other hand, when a high number of people are talking about your company and are sharing and recommending your content to others, it's a good sign you are resonating with your intended audience."
Is your Audience Growing and Are They Engaging?
Let's look at in-depth data for your individual posts. As a default, you'll see type, targeting, reach, engagement, and budget if you're boosting your posts.
In this view, we're showing Reach and Engagement Rate. You can switch your views using the drop-down arrows.
Tracking Reach and Engagement Rate will help you identify if there are common characteristics that your posts with high engagement share. Some questions to ask yourself:
Did these high engagement posts include:
Tagged people or companies
Links to another site
Were they posted during a certain date or time?
Now that you're familiar with some of the key metrics to help you grow your Facebook Business Page, read on to find out what to do with all of that data.
How to Export Your Facebook Insights to Create Baseline Data
When you hear the phrase "baseline data," a baseball field might pop into your mind. But in marketing, baseline means something entirely different. It's your minimum starting point used for comparisons. The idea is to collect baseline data so that when you make adjustments to your content strategy, you'll know if it's working in your favor.
Figuring out your baseline data and forming a strategy around it is the best way you can use Facebook Analytics to grow your business.
Here's how to do it:
Facebook gives you the ability to EXPORT your data so you can analyze and manipulate it off of the Facebook platform. There are three types of data you can export into Excel or CSV: Page Data, Post Data, and Video Data. You can select a predefined date range or insert your own as far back as 180 days.
Note: If you're on a Mac and don't have Excel select CSV. We used CSV in this example.
When you first open your CSV or Excel Spreadsheet you'll see many columns of data. Don't be scared, you just need to know which columns are most relevant. The beauty of exporting your data includes getting sums for relevant columns and sorting your information.
Suppose your goal is to drive people to your website to make a sale. Your CTA button is "Learn More" which links to your website and you should also have your website link under your About section.
Collect at least three months of baseline data. This is where being able to use sums comes into play and data sorting. Here is an example spreadsheet:
STEP 1: Export your PAGE DATA from March 1-March 31.
STEP 2: The first column you see is "Life Time Total Likes." Scroll to the bottom to see your total follower count as of March 31. Add this information to your spreadsheet for Total Followers in March.
STEP 3: Scroll all the way over to column EF "Daily Total Website Click Count Per Page." Sum the column and add that number to your spreadsheet for Website Click Count.
STEP 4: Now Export your POST DATA for March 1-March 31.
STEP 5:Count the number of posts for the month and add the number to your worksheet.
STEP 6: Sum the following columns and add to your spreadsheet:
Column I - Lifetime Post Organic Reach (Reach)
Column M - Lifetime Post Organic Impressions (Impressions)
Column O - Lifetime Engaged Users (Engagement)
STEP 7:Sort your Column O, "Lifetime Engaged Users", in descending order. This will rank your posts by engagement from the most engaging posts to least engaging. If you scroll back to Column B - Permalink, you can copy the first three links to your spreadsheet. Permalink is the URL to the individual post. You'll want to analyze these posts as discussed in or Facebook Insights article.
STEP 8: Continue this same procedure for the month of April and May and you will have your baseline data.
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