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Author: Clare Crossley
Facebook is one of the oldest social media platforms and remains the most popular with nearly 3 billion active monthly users. According to Statista, that’s far ahead of second place (Instagram, 2 billion) and relative newcomer TikTok (1 billion). In other words, you can’t afford to leave this social mainstay in the dust.
To get you started on developing an effective platform strategy, here are 5 great Facebook post formats and post categories for your feed. An important note: we’re not diving into video in this post, as it’s an entirely unique challenge. Look out for advice on Facebook video strategy in the future.
Before we go any further with this recommendation, let’s hit on the Facebook contest rules. In the old days, the “like this post and share on your timeline” prompt was a common approach, but Facebook doesn’t allow the sharing part anymore. You can still make liking the post a requirement, along with commenting on the post. You also can’t make participants tag their friends as part of the requirement. According to Meta, you also must “fully release and hold Meta harmless from liability” and “acknowledge that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Meta.” Include that language right in the post.
Once you have the rules in place, you have to consider if the audience engagement and increased awareness actually surpasses the value of whatever you’re giving away! In other words, don’t give away a car if you’re expecting 100 likes on a post. For normal giveaways — a free meal, a gift basket, a 60-minute massage — it’s likely worth it.
Some other tips. Don’t be afraid to team up with other businesses. The Donatos Pizza on West 8th St. in Erie, Pennsylvania teamed up with Greengarden Plaza (their neighbors) for a gift basket. The parameters included liking the post and business page (you can always confirm the winner is following your page at the end), commenting on the post, and sharing the post on users’ timelines. Again, we wouldn’t recommend the last requirement. They received 92 post likes, 77 comments, 70 shares, and likely new business page followers. That’s absolutely worth the effort.
Brew Ha Ha coffee shop, located in Erie’s Colony Plaza, put together a painting class giveaway where followers had to guess the “the number of coffee beans in the cup.” They received an easy 68 comments and 29 post likes. The business gets the engagement numbers and your followers get to do something fun. It’s a win-win.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking to collect email addresses, you’re better off running the contest on your website.
A Facebook event is another great way to create awareness for your business. Facebook events can link the location of the event (along with giving directions), provide the date and time of the event, and can offer up a quick description for potential attendees. Meanwhile, it will give you an estimated audience size in case you have space limits to consider.
When putting together your Facebook event, there’s a few best practices we’d recommend following: first, tag any co-hosts and encourage them to post it on their pages. This comes back to a common social strategy: partner with those bigger than you and leverage their audience to grow your own. Second, post your events on Facebook far in advance! It makes your organization look busy (busy = successful), and it gives the event more time to attract attendees and pop into Facebook timelines. You ever see a friend’s post that alerts you to them attending an event? That’s free promotion. Check out Basement Transmissions, a concert venue in Erie, for a good example of listing those events in advance.
Third, if you’re a small business, spend the $5-$10 it will take to promote the event locally. If it brings in just one more attendee, it’s likely worth it.
A question-and-answer session is a simple but awesome opportunity to get your audience engaged. First, create the initial Q&A prompt. It should inform the audience of what kind of questions you’re seeking and how long the Q&A will run for. Putting a time limit on the session creates urgency and might spur more engagement.
In the end, most Q&As should be geared toward establishing yourself (if you’re a personal brand) or your business profile as some form of thought leader. Thought leadership is the process of creating content and running your social profiles in a way that provides advice and expertise on a specific topic. This dedication slowly (key word, slowly) establishes you as an industry expert. So, when you’re asking for questions, hopefully your audience recognizes you for the expertise and guidance you’re qualified to give. If you run writing workshops in town, for example, perhaps you can talk about how you come up with ideas for novels, how one should structure chapters, and easy punctuation tips. Proving yourself as a thought leader will help drive clientele toward your business, because we always want to do business with people who are intelligent and generous. Giving away free advice helps fulfill both of those requirements.
Answer the questions with personality and not like a robot. Beyond establishing your industry or topic expertise, this is also about interacting with your followers on a personal level.
If you’ve had multiple Q&A sessions that were heavily attended, that’s an indication that you should start an email newsletter or begin to blog about your expertise. Clearly, customers care about what you have to say and go to you for help. You might even have enough of a following to do the Q&A in a live video format.
Don’t assume that your followers know everything you do and remember each facet of your individual services. That’s why it’s always a good idea to remind followers of your services on a monthly basis. Revox Media, a marketing company based in Erie, does a great job highlighting their services. This particular post poses a need (high-quality, professional video) and poses a use (a video to add to your website, social media, or to air on television), while then giving you a call-to-action (head over to their website). You can remind clients of their needs in these posts, or you can simply detail your service pricing and packages. Either method is a pretty easy way to approach this type of content. In the second example, notice that Revox has put real effort into their graphics and includes different photos on each package.
Let’s take a look at another Erie company. Pinnacle Roofing and Construction doesn’t have the phrase “siding” in their name, so it’s worth reminding customers about that service. In this post, they list the service, the specific color used on the home in the photo, and then provide the call-to-action. If you need siding, this is great motivation to give them a call.
A business is built on goals. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished and involve your audience in your accomplishments. Perhaps more importantly, showing off company milestones reiterates that your organization isn’t stagnant and that you’re consistently moving on to bigger and better things. Facebook allows you to add “activities” to your post, which includes different celebrations, or you can pop a celebration GIF in there.
Check out what Pressed coffee shop, located at Greengarden Plaza in Erie, did for their 5-year anniversary. They not only posted about it and received 50 easy Likes, but they also prepped a discounted birthday drink. They’re encouraging online and in-person engagement at the same time.
If you’re a community mainstay, like Lakeside Bagel and Deli in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, you can even celebrate owner and employee milestones. This post doubles as a 20-year business celebration, along with some details on how long the owners have been married. It created well over 1,000 engagements! In addition, another post celebrating their business anniversary introduced a “birthday cake cream cheese” and created another 100 engagements. That’s a big victory for a small business.
Try them out!
If you can be creative and if you care to build a social strategy, there’s plenty of opportunities to reach your audience on Facebook. While you’ll never hit all 3 billion of the active users (we can dream), you can’t afford to ignore the world’s biggest social platform.