With over 860 million active daily users and one out of every five web page views in the United States, there’s little doubt that Facebook represents a HUGE online market.
For this reason, we’ve spent a good deal of this month covering just a few of the MANY ways you can use Facebook to grow your private practice and market any other products and services you offer.
And we’ve got a lot more planned…
Because your clients are on Facebook… Your prospective clients are on Facebook… Your competition is on Facebook… And if you’re not on Facebook, you’re missing out on a lot of potential business and leaving a lot of money on the proverbial table.
However, this doesn’t mean Facebook’s necessarily right for you…
Where Facebook Fits in Your Marketing Plan
Like everything, if you start marketing your products, services, or practice on Facebook without a plan, what you’re really planning for are hours of frustration and wasted time and effort.
In order to be successful on Facebook you MUST understand how Facebook fits into your overall marketing plan.
In fact, understanding where Facebook fits into your marketing plan is the MOST CRITICAL step to succeeding with Facebook!
Understanding the greater context or marketing strategy in which Facebook fits is the difference between pouring time and money down the Facebook drain and being highly successful at using Facebook to grow your business.
And the greater strategy is called Value Optimization.
We dedicated an entire STAR training to the Value Optimization system late last year, as well as converted that training into a detailed article you can access at any time on the Therapy Marketing Institute website.
Your first step is to understand how marketing on Facebook fits into the Value Optimization strategy.
So, before you begin using Facebook to grow your practice or market any other products and services you offer, read the article on “The Value Optimization System.” Read it multiple times. Commit it to memory.
Print the Value Optimization Flowchart graphic that is available as a resource in the article.
Pin the Value Optimization Flowchart to the wall next to your workstation.
Every time you lose your way with your website, blog, Facebook, or any other marketing tactic, look at the Value Optimization Flowchart. It will remind you of the greater strategy and put you back on track.
Here’s where Facebook fits into the Value Optimization system…
We can see that Facebook comes in to play at two points:
- As a Prospect or Traffic Source … Meaning you’d use Facebook to drive prospective clients to your website and, thus, to your business, or;
- As part of your Return Path … Meaning you’d use Facebook for frequent, strategic communications to engage with prospects and clients and cause them to return to your website and buy again and again.
Neither of these is mutually exclusive…
And, if you’re going to choose Facebook as one of the two or three Prospect or Traffic Sources you focus on, I suggest you maximize your efforts by also using Facebook as a tool to build engagement and create your Return Path.
Please note that both of these involve driving clients and prospective clients from Facebook to YOUR WEBSITE!
While you may be able to do some “selling” on Facebook, it’s typically a far too distracting environment to do so successfully. Thus, the whole point is to use Facebook to drive people to our websites.
Well, when it comes to using Facebook as a Prospect or Traffic Source, you can either:
- Run ads on Facebook that lead people to your website, or
- Build up a large audience of “likes” for your Facebook brand page and then write status updates – commonly called “posts” – that drive the people who see them to you website.
If you plan on actively using Facebook as a Prospect or Traffic Source, I recommend advertising as well as building up a large audience of “likes” and posting great content.
When it comes to using Facebook to create your Return Path, you can, again, run ads on Facebook.
However, just as effective and far more engaging is routinely posting quality content on your Facebook brand page and using those posts to drive people to your website.
Again, neither of these is mutually exclusive…
To really take advantage of Facebook and maximize your results, you’re going to want to do all of the above, as well as pay Facebook to promote or “boost” some of your posts to get them in front of even more prospective clients.
We’ve already covered how to set up your Facebook brand page and get your first 100 likes in our “Getting Started with Facebook” STAR Training.
And we briefly discussed the elements of great Facebook posts during our January 17, 2015, Open Office Hours Q&A session. Unfortunately, we didn’t devote the time to the subject of creating compelling Facebook posts that it really deserves.
Let’s rectify that…
Why Your Posts Matter
The purpose of the status updates you post to your Facebook brand page is to promote your content and get it and you noticed.
Unfortunately, all too often I see therapists and other business owners slaving away creating great content for their Facebook brand pages only to have it go unnoticed because their posts are poorly constructed.
If this sounds like you, don’t worry… You’re far from alone!
Millions of posts around the world meet their demise in Facebook’s “news feed” each and every day.
What’s Facebook’s “news feed?”
This is where the status updates you post to your Facebook brand page appear for those who’ve “liked” your Facebook brand page or when you pay to promote certain posts. And it’s a very hectic and cluttered place…
Facebook’s news feed is like a major freeway at rush hour… lots of traffic, lots of distractions, and too many people not paying enough attention.
If you want your content to stand out and get people to take action in this over-crowded environment, you’re going to need to do some very specific things.
So, what is it that causes some Facebook posts to succeed while most fail miserably?
I’ve been doing a lot of research and testing in order to answer this very question and I have some answers that I hope help us all create more engaging and effective Facebook posts.
Read on as we break down the elements of a Facebook post, section by section, so you can make sure your posts rise above the rest and are as close to perfect as possible.
The Elements of a Perfect Facebook Post
As you can see from the image below, your Facebook posts can be divided into 4-6 main areas…
The first thing I want us to consider is the text, or “copy,” of your posts…
1. Crafting Compelling Copy
All too often I see copy in posts that is too long, confusing, or just plain non-existent.
Facebook users tend to scroll quickly down the news feed and you typically don’t have more than 2-3 seconds to grab their attention. So, try to pack as much punch as you can into the copy of your posts.
Think of your post as a billboard along the freeway and Facebook’s news feed viewers as cars flying by at 70mph.
How would you write your post’s copy now?
I bet you’d keep it brief… And you’d be right to do so!
Research indicates that the shorter your copy is, the better. In fact, a study of retailers using Facebook found that retailers’ posts that were less than 40 characters in length received 86% more engagement – engagement being “likes,” clicks, comments, or shares.
Now, 40 characters is REALLY short… Too short for me… It may be too short for you, too.
If so, don’t worry… In my testing, I’ve found posts of between 40-100 characters still receive 66% higher engagement than posts with longer copy.
This all being said, every target market is different…
If you’ve built an audience that responds to longer posts, congratulations! You can probably disregard this data and testing. But, as a general rule, I’m going with the results of my testing and I suggest you do too, at least until you do your own testing. 😉
Lastly, use creative calls to action in your copy.
What these are will depend on the purpose of your post. If you’re trying to get people to click through to your website, use active verbs in your copy like learn, see, and enter. If you’re trying to elicit comments, ask questions and ask for answers. Remember this is SOCIAL media… Asking questions gives your audience the opportunity to be social and gets them engaged.
2. An Image Can Be Worth 1,000 Clicks
Given the nature of the Facebook news feed, images are your best chance to grab people’s attention.
However, just as the right image can make your post, an image that is the wrong dimensions or confusing can spell disaster.
I’ve found that images that are easy to see and quickly convey ONE message are best. After all, some of the most powerful images in history are the simplest.
I also recommend that you:
- Use only a couple of contrasting colors in order to make your images “pop” without being too busy,
- Put your call to action in your image as text,
- Make sure your image is consistent with any web page you’re using it to link to.
And remember, your posts are like billboards alongside busy freeways… Create your images accordingly!
3. Share a Link
If the purpose of your post is to drive people to your website, you MUST include a link in the copy of your post to the web page you want to take people.
When you do this, Facebook will add a preview snippet of the page you’re linking to below your post’s copy as well as choose an image for your post from among the images on the web page being linked to.
Sometimes the image Facebook chooses is great… But it’s usually less than ideal.
In the past, we had little control over which images Facebook chose or how they appeared. Fortunately, Facebook now let’s us create and upload large (484 x 252 pixel or 1200 x 627 pixel) images to use with these preview snippets.
Given the importance of images, I highly recommend you create your own engaging images using the guidelines above and upload them to Facebook to go along with the links you share. This is especially important because many Facebook users expect to be taken somewhere when they click on your images.
4. Getting Engaged
If you’ve nailed the copy and the image, chances are you’ll have people engaging with your posts. They’ll click the link you’ve shared, click the “like” button, “share” your post with others, and/or comment on your post.
The more engagement your posts receive, the stickier they’ll become, meaning Facebook will keep them closer to the top of the news feed for a longer period of time.
This is reason enough to encourage engagement…
But, remember, the whole point is to get people coming to our websites and businesses. If viewers have clicked the link you’ve shared, you’ve already succeeded.
And don’t stop there…
5. Respond to Comments
Remember to keep an eye on the comments section of your post and be sure to respond to any you receive.
And, when you do respond, be human and try to connect on a personal level.
I also recommend asking additional questions to bring people back to your post again and again. This shows people you care and can only encourage further commenting and engagement, all of which ultimately leads to higher visibility for your post and more potential clicks through to your website.
Now you know the elements required to start creating perfect Facebook posts.
Just don’t forget… Practice makes perfect.
So start creating posts. Test and track what works and what doesn’t and revise your posting strategy accordingly.
And, most of all, have fun with your Facebook posts… If your posts are entertaining and fun, they’ll be successful!
What do you think? Have you had any wildly successful or unsuccessful Facebook posts? Have you found out what your audience wants most from your posts? If so, let us know below… We’d love to hear your thoughts, questions, and comments!