Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pink Pro University: Facebook Best Practices

By Krista Chapman

Navigating (and keeping up with) the world of Facebook is difficult even to the most obsessed.  For small business owners that have plenty of other to-do's on their list, the whole social media landscape is overwhelming, confusing and often ignored.  Sound about right?  Yes.. then this post is for you.  As more and more of our potential clients, brides and grooms spend their time in these worlds, it becomes increasingly important to join the community (or miss out).   Below are my best practices to maximize the time you spend marketing your business so you can get back to business.

Getting Started
Facebook is a platform for your business to connect with clients (prospective, current and past), creating a community whereas you, as the business owner, are better able to anticipate customer needs and shift to fit the market.  I think it is safe to say we all know we should be a apart of this but the real question is how do we do it?  Let's get started

1. Create a business page.  Facebook has done a decent job of making this easy with a systematic guide for creating a page found here.  Plan on spending a few hours uploading and filling in all your content.  For those of you that may have long ago set up your business as a profile (where you have friends), most experts recommend shifting to a page.  There are numerous analytics and benefits that you simply don't get in profile mode.  One thing of note...  making this shift will result in the loss of some data (pictures, past status updates) but you do remain connected to all your friends which is important.        

2. Facebook Help Center is your best friend.  This tool is located in the top right corner when you log into facebook (see right).  A small down arrow, that when clicked will pop up a drop down menu with the Help Center option.  This is a great resource full of basic tutorials on everything facebook.  You can pretty much type anything into the search bar and have an answer in seconds. 

3. Practice makes perfect.   As you get started, make it a habit to spend at least 30 minutes on facebook everyday to familiarize yourself with the set-up and tools.  Not 30 minutes reading your friends posts, but instead clicking buttons and links that are new to you.  I was not automatically smarter than anyone else when it comes to social media.   It was through diligent daily practice that I learned the shortcuts and increased my comfort level with these systems.  And guess what?  I am still learning.

4. Are you open to learning? Take the attitude of eager student learning a new skill and this will come over time and practice.  Have a sense a humor about your mistakes and know you will inevitably make some.  If you believe you will never understand social media and how it affects your business, you never will.

Time Management

1. Use a social dashboard.  My favorite is  Users are able to connect up to five social media feeds (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) and scheduled status updates to be posted at a future time and date.  This lets you spend a couple hours, one day scheduling posts for the rest of the week.  Best part?  The basic service is free.

2. Limit notifications.  Back to the top right drop down arrow... This time click and go to Account Settings.  Once here, look to the left column, where you can click Notifications.  This gives you access to everything that can facebook can notify you about.  Most recently, they have defaulted to sending a weekly email summary (box at the top of Notifications page).  If you would rather have custom notifications (by either email or mobile phone), this is the place to make the changes.

When to Post
1. End of the week.  Facebook have dubbed a "happiness spike" later in the workweek, which causes a slight jump in user engagement by way of commenting and liking on wall posts.  Thursdays and Fridays are the best day statistically for engagement so if you have a great wedding recap or big announcement wait to post this until the end of the week.

2. Outside of business hours.  Many of your brides and grooms likely work 9-5, Monday thru Friday and may not have easy access to facebook.  As a result, waiting to post until later in the evening or even on the weekends can pay big dividends when it comes to user engagement.  Since I do not expect you to spend you evenings 'working' on facebook, use your Hootsuite (above) account to schedule posts and then spend a few minutes responding to comments.

3. When your fan base is most engaged.  Despite everything in my above points, may find that your specific audience on your facebook page is different.  They may instead prefer to interact with your content on Monday morning or Wednesday over lunch.  As you get started, try posting at different times and days of the weeks and see what kind of engagement you get. All said, the best way to get your fans to interact is to post interesting and remarkable content...

What to Post
1. Remarkable Content.  Does it make you go huh?  Does it solve a common problem?  Does it make you want to share with others?  If this is your reaction, a bride is likely to think the same.  Consider this good content to share as a status update.

2. Pictures and/or Videos.  Humans are visual creatures and the bride is perhaps the most visual of all... get yourself a camera (wait, you already have one on your phone!) and start taking pictures.  I have had success with behind-the-scenes set-ups and real weddings or events.  This is also a great way connect with other vendors, tagging them in media where both your work is featured.

3. Share the love.   Speaking of tagging... when you are posting a status update is a great idea to tag a fellow vendor (Hit the @ key, follow by typing the business's facebook page name... tag will automatically pop up) or to share one of their recent posts to your wall feed.  Remember, you must first 'like' a page you want to tag and business pages cannot tag individual users.

4. I also recommend...
  • Bizpers... essentially a status update that's a little bit personal and a little bit business combined.   I can't credit for this one (thank you Star Hall!) but I love how well it engages users.  Remember, you are working to make a connection and it is general easier to connect to other humans, not companies.
  • Asking a Question...  The best way to know what your fans want or think is to ask.
  • Quotes or unusual facts related to your product or service (particular quotes from pop culture or celebrities).

Don't do this!
1. Talk only about yourself.  This goes for you, your company, your events, etc.  Frankly, most facebook users (and potential clients) are not interested in what's going on in your life.  Remember this is social media and works best when you are also engaged in the content posted others (by commenting, liking or sharing... more best practices to include as part of your 30 minutes of daily maintenance).  Err on the side of supporting others and users will come to see you as a great resource that they depend on (and do business with!).

2. Isolate your Fans.  Airing dirty laundry on facebook is a no-no.  This seems obvious but far too many facebook users jump quickly onto their soapbox, only regret this later.  Think before your post!  I also recommend against strongly aligning your business or organization with topics that polarize (religion, politics, etc).  The exception to the rule is when the product or service you offer is polarizing to begin with (for instance, companies serving exclusive gay couples).  If you are not sure how your facebook audience will react to sharing information on a certain subject, it is better to skip the post.  The best pages are positive, inviting and warm... just like the best weddings.

3. Ignore Users.  Make a rule to respond to every comment or wall post on your fan page.  Either by liking or commenting back, this shows fans you're listening and care what they have to say.  Consider this part of your 30 minutes a day of maintenance.

4. Disappear from facebook.  If users visit your facebook page, only to see that you haven't posted in months, they might start to wonder if you are still in business.  It is important to stay engaged (and use your Hootsuite) to maximize your facebook presence.  Otherwise, we are back to square one and you were better off putting these resources elsewhere.

Most importantly, don't be too proud to ask for help.  We all were beginners at one point.  Not asking for help or even delegating this work to someone better suited to manage social media only continues your suffering.  So stop it already and ask for help!

Krista Chapman is a freelance writer, wedding expert and educator based in Nashville, TN with more than 15 years of hospitality related experience.  Beyond weddings, her expertise focuses on sales, marketing, social media and finding balance.  She loves wine with bubbles, flea markets, paperback books and the Packers. Currently, fans keep up with her daily blog posts, where you can find advice, planning tips and inspiration related to wedding planning.  Her work can also be seen in The Pink Bride Magazine, published locally in various markets across the state of Tennessee.

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