Thirteen-and-a-half years in, the Facebook experiment has produced some wild results. Prior to its launch in 2004, few would have bet on a social network—a title shared by worn-out competitors like Friendster and MySpace—becoming one of the 10 most valuable companies in the world. Yet somehow, that’s exactly where we are.
But just as Facebook shed its startup status in 2012, it has, in many ways, also shed its social network status. Even though it hasn’t disabled any of its staple social networking functions, it has simply evolved into something much larger than that.
Though it took many months of public prodding, Facebook’s co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally came out and said that his brainchild was a media company. This is significant because being a media company entails much more than just providing a platform for mass communication. Media more or less implies that advertising is involved, which, in an online setting, means that SEO is squarely in the mix as well.
A few years of evolution brought Facebook to a point where it had fully emerged as one of the internet’s most critical SEO battlegrounds. Despite the fact that search engines weren’t immediately factoring social signals into their ranking algorithms, there was no denying that sharing content on Facebook was a highly effective method of generating page views and—with a little bit of good presentation and luck—leads.
That is still the case in 2017. Probably even more so than in past years; because Facebook seems to be well past the point of no return in terms of entrenchment into our mainstream culture, and with entrenchment comes normalization. With the exception of society’s oldest demographics (and even a good chunk of that population), pretty much everyone is one Facebook, using it in some capacity. It has become a near-essential component of people’s social coordination and daily routines.
All of this is to say that if you want to get the most exposure out of your content, then you need to be marketing it effectively on Facebook. And to do that, here are some things you should keep in mind.
Don't alienate your audience with unappealing content
Businesses approach Facebook with a completely different mindset than typical users do. The former looks at it as an advertising opportunity, while the latter is primarily on the website in the first place to connect with friends and be entertained.
In the same way that you wouldn't want to read a corporate report to your seven-year-old child as a bedtime story, you want to avoid posting content that won't appeal to users on that platform. Those words are italicized because even the most valuable of content—content that someone would certainly want to see under a different set of circumstances—might not be what a user is looking for when he or she browses Facebook.
Your best chance of appealing to users with content is to design stuff that is fun and incentivizing for them to check out. Otherwise, they'll likely just keep scrolling through their news feed.
Actively drive engagement and sharing
Facebook is a platform that generously rewards individuals and businesses who can drive engagement or shares. The network creates a snowball effect where, as a result of an initial batch of reactions/comments/shares, content starts getting far more exposure than it otherwise would without that engagement. Once the ball is rolling, it can get viral in a hurry.
Even though it can sometimes seem almost circumstantial or accidental when content goes viral, there is often a method to the madness. Nudging people into tagging their friends or sharing in order to be entered in some sort of contest are common and totally legitimate methods of driving additional engagement. Take advantage of them when you can.
Get phygital with your customers
Phygital is a term that pops up in business strategy meetings a lot these days. Since the physical and digital worlds are more intertwined than ever now, you might as well embrace it and find areas that are ripe for crossover.
One example of this is Facebook's check-in feature. Since it notifies people in a user's network when he or she checks in to a location (often a business), it creates a clear in-the-moment call-to-action between the digital and physical realms.
Encourage things like check-ins or people taking photographs where they rep your brand. Remember, content sharing doesn't have to mean that your business is the only one doing all the posting. Sometimes customers can do it as well.
Incorporate hashtags and trending topics
Hashtags are a Twitter invention, but they've translated to Facebook just fine. On Facebook, they serve two basic functions. The first is linguistic. A hashtag is like the cherry on top of a great post. It can bring everything together and add a figurative exclamation point to your message. The second is its potential for widespread communication. Much of Facebook is insular, with the majority of what you see coming from people and businesses that are already in your network. Hashtags provide an exception to that though, opening the door for people to discover content from the Facebook community at large.
Trending topics are similar in that sense. Although the topics themselves are curated by Facebook and don't directly represent content from any particular business or brand, content that focuses on trending topics is far likelier to be featured in a news feed than regular content.
There's no need to force the use of hashtags and trending topics, but the more you can incorporate them effectively, the better.
Use paid ads and analytics
Paid ads and analytics are integral parts of search engine marketing that have naturally made their way into Facebook. While Facebook in general is effectively an advertising platform, paid ads take things to the next level in spreading your message to the right people. Because of its unique data insights, Facebook can really target users effectively based on demographics, interests, and search history. Plus, paid ads on Facebook are often much cheaper than they would be on other media platforms such as TV or newspapers—and could have an even greater reach too.
To get the most out of your ads and posts though, you'll need to be keeping thorough tabs on Facebook's analytics system and adapting to the results accordingly. Stats don't lie. They'll tell you what's been working and what hasn't been. Maybe that ad you thought was perfectly crafted actually needs some tweaking. Or maybe you've been posting at a bad time of day. These are the sorts of insights you'll get from analytics. Use them well.