The land of Facebook marketing can be counterintuitive at times. A business-to-business page might be tempted to use the direct access to its self-selected fans by pushing products or features it wants those merchants to adopt. And on its face, this makes sense; if you have something merchants can benefit from, why not tell them about it on the most active social network in the galaxy?
The key word is that adjective: social. The majority of Facebook users don’t go to the site simply to consume (although surely some do). Rather, they go to like, comment, and share. In other words, they want to socialize.
It’s not that push messages should be avoided entirely. I spent some time observing several Facebook pages over a six-week period, all of which were in the business of servicing small business entrepreneurs, and I was able to draw some conclusions about what’s working best at creating fan engagement.
The trick for these pages is to find that Goldilocks sweet spot — between a fan learning about great offerings when appropriate and that fan feeling like s/he is getting spammed with ads — and then spend the rest of the time facilitating discussion amongst fans without getting too much in the way.
Overall, the most successful posts are genres you’re likely very familiar with, such as:
- pretty, inspirational quotes
- true or false
- unique infographics
These generate a lot of likes and shares, and if phrased correctly, can generate a lot of comments. That’s especially true when the post gets fans to talk about their favorite topic: themselves.
The other successful posts are those that highlight customers, usually void of any company mention. They often show one simple but pretty picture (don’t discount the value of really good photos) from the business, followed by a brief description of its cool wares. If you have enough quality photo assets for a small album, even better.
The key here seems to be keeping company fingerprints off the post, so it solely discusses the business or proprietor — no mention of how they use company products or anything like that. It’s just a simple, “check out this cool business” type of post with the obvious built-in assumption that they are a merchant customer.
Evidence suggests, however, that it is possible for pages to buck the pull trend and actually score some victories with push posts, rather than just survive them. The key: [drum roll….] a great product!
Certainly no big reveal there, but it’s always good to be reminded about why you got in the business in the first place. Strive to make the best, because the better the product — the more attractive, useful, and easy to use it is — the more love it gets. And that is directly correlated to the success of business page push posts.
That said, it’s important to remember to be short and sweet and not bludgeon fans with your message. That’s good advice for almost any post of any kind.
Some final, random thoughts:
- celebrating company milestones can prove fruitful especially with a supportive fan base; use your best judgment
- photos of real employees from real company events are worth a shot; it can’t hurt to humanize your business, especially if it’s of the online variety
- fans love contests
Basically it comes down to brevity, variety, and staying out of the discussion as much as possible, save for those select times when there are really good product promotions to push.
If you want to dig in deeper with a more quantitative analysis about when and how to post, I’d suggest checking out Daniel Zeevi’s recent post, complete with one of those intoxicating infographics. But some conclusions are visibly obvious regarding fan engagement; as they say, the writing is on the wall.