With so many communications channels to choose from, it’s easy to see how some businesses might get overwhelmed.
According to a recent survey by The Manifest, 64% of small businesses use two or more channels when relaying messages to consumers.
By choosing a combination of channels, businesses can ensure their messages are being received by the widest possible audience.
Although it might be tempting to use as many communications channels as are available, businesses would benefit from a more deliberate and mindful approach.
Know Your Audience
One of the first steps of planning a successful communications campaign is knowing exactly who the campaign is for.
- How old is the target audience?
- What are their communication habits?
- What types of messages do they respond best to?
For example, if your target audience is younger, social media might be the best way to reach them.
Businesses should also consider whether the target audience is current customers or people they’re trying to convert into customers.
“Current customers are going to listen to that message quite differently than folks who don’t know who you are or haven’t had any sort of relationship with you,” said Mike Rosenberg, CEO of Veracity, one of the top PR agencies in Portland, Ore.
Consider Your Message
The next step to planning an effective communications campaign is to consider the message you want to share.
- Are you sharing information about a new product or service?
- Do you want to share company news?
- Is the purpose of your message to inform or incite a specific action?
Businesses should always consider the nature of their message before determining which communication channel would be the best fit.
Think About What Kind of Return You Want to Gain
After you’ve considered your audience and the type of message you’ll be sharing, you also need to consider the type of return you want to gain from your communication efforts.
- What is the goal with communication to customers?
- What action do we want them to take?
- Do we want them to buy something?
- Do we want them to start a conversation around our brand?
- Is this more a matter of customer service?
- How will we track our returns?
For example, if you want to jumpstart buzz around your brand or a new product, social media might be the best channel. If you want to offer customers exclusive news or discounts, email or direct mail might be best.
Whatever your intended return is, make sure it is trackable so that you can measure the success of your campaign to prepare for future campaigns.
Business-Consumer Communications Requires a Well-Thought Out Plan
While businesses should use multiple platforms to emphasize their messages, they should do so in a deliberate way. By considering their audience, message, and the return they want to gain, businesses can create a communications campaign that strengthens their public relations, marketing, and reputation management strategies.
Featured image from Ethan Hoover
Reposted February 22, 2018, with updated Facebook security recomendations from PixelPrivacy below
Sometimes a little training is needed even for what seem to be the simplest tasks. A Facebook post for example. Here are some tips (mostly in regards to Facebook) to help you avoid making mistakes in the social media space.
Like most things in life, if we take a step back and evaluate the situation, we are likely better able to determine our goals and dictate the outcomes we desire. So, before you hit “update status” in your Facebook feed, ask yourself:
“Will I possibly regret sharing this?”
If the answer is “no,” go ahead and post. If the answer is “yes” or “maybe,” take a breath, pause and think about some of the do’s and don’ts below.
Think about your audience.
Understanding your purpose for each channel will help you determine who you are going to be “friends” with and what type of content is appropriate to post. You should ask yourself:
“What am I using each channel for?”
Personally, I tend to use Facebook for communicating with friends and family, but I also run a marketing agency, so I end up posting a fair amount about marketing and a nonprofit digital marketing organization I volunteer with.
Remember LinkedIn is for business. You can pretty easily grow that connection list, but you have to decide what your purpose is for inviting or accepting all those connections. I am certainly much more lenient on LinkedIn to accept (and offer) connection requests, compared to Facebook. But, I have to at least have met (virtually is fine) the person or have a lot in common with them, (connections, geography, groups) to lead me to believe a mutually beneficial relationship would warrant a connection with them.
Once you have decided that, here are a few quick tips on what you should and shouldn’t do.
Do be social. It’s called social media for a reason. Engage, ask questions, share the things you see and like. Feel free to let your personality and opinions shine through your posts.
Do provide commentary. It is ok to simply share a link or someone else’s post, but it is better to tell your friends and followers WHY you are sharing it.
Do give credit. Tag people assuming it is appropriate (see Don’t post pictures without permission below) and company pages when sharing or posting content created by others. This is especially true for business pages.
Do read or watch what you share. Don’t share an article simply based on the title nor a video based on the first 15 seconds. You may not want to endorse a video that started out really funny and then took a turn for the worst at the 1:10 mark.
Don’t post after midnight. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying nothing good ever happens after midnight. Take that to heart on social media as well. Not literally of course…it’s ok to post after midnight. But if you’ve had a few and think something’s really funny, it may not be so funny the next day (of course posts can be deleted and edited, see below).
Don’t post pictures of other people’s kids. You know that great shot you got of your daughter’s 5th grade class on graduation day? Don’t post it if other kids’ faces are visible. It’s your right to share pictures of your kids; it’s not your right to decide for others.
Don’t post pictures/videos without permission. We all love throwback Thursday. Except your high school friend who is looking for a job and now has to deal with the repercussions of that sexy kitten Halloween costume you just posted (this rule goes out the window if he already uses it as his profile picture).
Don’t be that guy. You may want to avoid being one of the following types of posters:
- Negative Nelly – are the majority of your posts depressing? Do you only share news stories of disasters, tragedies and debauchery?
- Foodie (or drinkie) – seems to always be out at the newest spot, hits three bars on a Tuesday (every Tuesday). Do we all really need to see what your drink looks like or how beautifully moist your burger is, again? Do you want potential employers to know about your Tuesday night escapades?
- Photo bombers – nope, not talking about making a funny face in the background…talking about those of you that post way too many pics. Do a little self-editing and only share a few at a time. You can still use Facebook as your photo repository and just share with your family (see privacy settings below). But note that every image you post to Facebook gives Facebook a license to that photo (and any other type of content).
- Spammer – do you send all of your friends constant messages about the product you’re selling (or even a charity you believe in)? Maybe you tag everyone in a post about a fundraiser? Hey, we all have to make a living and supporting charitable causes is good, but show some restraint and tact. Think it through. Even if it is a worthy cause would you want to get multiple messages about something you may not care about?
PixelPrivacy shared a great resource they created for Facebook privacy with us recently. Check out their Visual Guide To Making Your Facebook Profile Private Again.
You can lock down (or open up) who sees what if you pay attention to your privacy settings. You can hide a lot of stuff (note that you cannot hide what pages you are a “fan” of, so “like” with discretion if you need to be discrete). Digital Trends has a good guide to Facebook privacy settings.
In general there are three levels of privacy; everyone, friends and friends of friends. You pick a default and you can easily change with each post (and create specific custom groups, like family).
Adjust your tagging settings. Here is your one main action item: Change your Timeline and Tagging settings. You cannot control what other people post, but you can control if you are tagged and if it shows up on your timeline.
Facebook has a nice little Privacy Checkup you can go through:
Opps, I posted after midnight, now what do I do?
You can always delete (or edit) a post once it is up (unless it is a post from a business page and you have paid to promote it, then you can only delete and repost). There is however no guarantee that the right (wrong) people didn’t already see it and/or take a screenshot.
Last few tips:
If you don’t want someone to see it (ever) don’t post…
Tired of seeing what your cousin ate for breakfast, but don’t want to offend her with an “unfriend”? You can hide posts without unfriending people (look for the little arrow in the upper right corner of their post). That way they won’t get a new suggestion to be your friend again. Ever had someone show up as “People You May Know” and you thought you were already friends with them? You were, they unfriended you.
If you are a voyeur and never post, that’s fine, just refrain from telling someone their life story when you see them in person. Some may think it’s a little creepy that you know all about what they’ve been up to, but you never participate.
Are you a chronic “liker,” liking every post you see? Great, don’t change, we all like the validation!
Create a Google Alert for yourself to monitor your online presence…oh, and Google yourself. If you don’t know what is out there, you certainly can’t do anything about it.
Social media can be a fun way to keep in touch, stay up-to-date with friends, family and business activities and even get news and learn a few things. Just remember these few basic tips and you will have a better experience.
Do you have anything to add?
Excerpts from this post were originally shared in the Wakefield & Wakefield Business Etiquette newsletter.
My second installment in our “Back to the Basics” series. The first was driven by a specific client request for help optimizing a LinkedIn company page. So naturally, we move on to the most popular social network, Facebook, for the same kind of post.
We will again assume that you have a page already, but if not, simply go to facebook.com/pages/create and start by selecting what type of business you have and follow the instructions from there. Note that each category is different and it will ask you for unique information. If you are not sure what type of page to create check out this post on How to Determine What Kind of Business Facebook Page to Start.
Since this is a “Basics” post, I am not going to focus on Facebook Business Manager. However, if you have or plan to have multiple pages and/or run Facebook advertising campaigns, I recommend using Facebook Business Manager. The page elements and strategies are the same, but it is easier to switch between pages and to NOT accidentally post as your page when you want to post as yourself and vice versa. Don’t worry if you do not know if you will advertise or have multiple pages as you can always switch to Business Manager in the future.
Whether you are creating a new page or editing your current one, here are some tips for the overview section. I am going to use a side project podcast (which I’ll create as an “Entertainment” page) for this example:
Use the common name for your organization. It does not need to be your legal name (leave off the LLC, Inc., etc, unless you are identified that way). Think about how your page should come up when someone tags it on Facebook. I suggest not having something too long or descriptive.
Use Page Tips
Page Tips will provide suggestions for the basic elements you need to fill out to complete your page. Of course, there will be some marketing messages from Facebook about expanding your reach through advertising, writing effective posts and inviting friends to like your page. Follow those at your own discretion.
You get 155 characters to say what your page is about.
Add Your Website
Here is where you can link to your website or a specific page on your website.
Help People Take Action | Create Button
There are several options for types of buttons to use for your primary Call-to-Action (CTA). You will decide which button to use based on what type of page you have created or your marketing and sales goals via Facebook. Here are the preset button options:
Book Services – use if you want people to book an appointment, book travel or start a food order.
Get in Touch – do you want people to reach out for more info? You can choose between the following “Get in Touch” options:
- Call Now
- Contact Us (drive people to your contact us form)
- Send Message (via Facebook Message)
- Sign Up (typically for an email subscription or the like)
- Send Email
Learn More – link to a video on your website or Facebook, or take them to another page to learn more
Make a Purchase or Donation – drive sales or donations
Download App of Game
Note that there are several third-party apps you can connect to your button on Facebook. Evaluate and use at your own discretion.
Know Friends Who Might Like Your Page? | Invite Friends
Want to kickstart your page fandom? You can invite your friends to like your page…just be careful to not spam them. For example, if your page is for a local Portland business, only invite your friends that live in the Portland, Oregon Area. Once you click on the “See All Friends” button, you will have several options to manage whom you invite.
I’m just going to highlight the top settings you need to focus on. Ideally, you will go through every setting and update/customize it for your business page. Some of them are obvious and just leave them on the default setting (e.g. Page Visibility should be set to “Page Published” unless you don’t want anyone to see it yet).
Most of the “General” setting will go unchanged, but you have the ability to target specific audiences and restrict what people can do and/or see on your page.
Templates – by default your template will be set to “Standard,” depending on the type of business, you may want to change the template you use (Facebook may suggest specific templates based on the type of page).
Tabs – you can edit what Tabs to show and the order in which they are listed. There are additional Tabs that can be added and ordered as you like. Hide tabs that are irrelevant or do not have any content (e.g. hide the YouTube tab if you don’t have a YouTube channel). See more about each tab below.
You can control what Facebook notifies you about and how to receive those notifications. I suggest only receiving emails for important notifications and turning all Text Messages off.
Here is a bit more detail about the various tabs you can feature along the left side of your company page:
Edit your Category and Name if needed.
Create Page @username – note that you may need to have some page “Likes” before you can create a @username and it is very difficult to change a @username, so choose wisely. I suggest starting your user name with your primary company name. Think about how someone would begin to tag your company page in a post. For example, our company @username is currently @trueveracity. Not ideal. We chose this because our website URL used to be trueveracity.com (and @veracity was taken). We are trying to change our @username, but it is not easy.
Edit story – this is where you can provide a complete description of your business page. While Facebook does not provide a specific word or character limit for your story, it will be truncated with a “See More” button after about 400 characters (+/- 50 words).
Pretty straight forward
Add any “Other Accounts” you want to be connected to your page including:
Edit this section as needed
Picture & Cover Photo
Take the time to create and resize your picture (the square image that will appear on all of your posts) and cover photo (image at the top of your page) to fit Facebook’s specifications. The dimensions for your picture are 160 x 160 pixels with a square layout. For a company page, this should typically be your logo. Cover photos display at 820 x 312 pixels on computers and 640 x 360 on smartphones (image must be at least 399 x 150).
Also, you can either choose to pick an image that will last a long time, like a version of your logo, a headshot for an artist or public figure page, a team photo or something else that represents your company/page. Or, you can change your cover photo on a regular basis to reflect what your company is up to, some important announcements or the like.
Posts, Groups, Videos, Photos, Reviews, Likes
Once you start posting and sharing content (videos, photos, etc.) you can select what you want to feature on each of your tabs. You can also select if you want to show reviews and likes, and to feature and link any groups you are a part of to your page.
What should you share?
Now that you have your page updated and you’ve invited some friends to like it, what do you do? You need to “Write something…!”, share a post as Facebook calls it.
There are four main items that can be shared from a company page; text, photos, videos, or links. All can be combined into one post too.
What to share: these are your thoughts, articles or blog posts that your target audience is interested in. The best sources are your company and industry content, such as:
- Content you create (blog posts, white papers, how-to guides, etc.),
- Media hits or other content the company &/or employees are mentioned in,
- Stuff your employees publish,
- Content from partners (channel partners, vendors, nonprofits you support, etc.).
(remember to @ tag people and companies)
Sharing photos, videos and updates are also good ways to keep your page content fresh and interesting. Videos tend to have good engagement and you can even share live video content (plus re-share it later), numbered lists get shared a lot and posts with a link typically perform better. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of blog posts about what makes good Facebook content. Here are a few to read, try searching for specific tips within your industry or page category for more targeted articles (e.g. Facebook business page tips for accountants):
Scheduling posts: Facebook has a good interface for drafting, scheduling and even backdating posts. However, if you are going to post the same (or similar) content on more than one social network, or are looking to be more efficient, you may want to use a third party tool/app like Buffer, Hootsuite or CoSchedule.
When to post: The first step is to look at your Facebook Insights and see when your audience is active. Then test out various posting times and types and see what has the best engagement with likes, comments and shares. A mistake we often see is to “only” post on weekdays on Facebook. We have found that most audiences are still active on Saturdays and Sundays on Facebook.
Page notifications: Another tab on the settings page is to manage your notifications. There are currently ten different notification settings you can turn on or off. You can also select how you receive the notifications you have turned on, via Facebook message, email and/or text. If you choose to be notified by email, be aware of what email address you have set up to receive notifications. Users often have a personal (gmail, yahoo, etc.) email address for their personal Facebook page. This is fine, but if you don’t frequently check that email account, you may want to consider either changing your primary email or using Facebook Business Manager.
That about covers the basics for setting up and at least initially optimizing a Facebook company page. If you have specific questions please feel free to ask in the comments section (or on our Veracity Facebook company page).
If you are looking for advertising advice, check out How to Optimize Facebook Advertising in 7 Steps.