Sure, Facebook's image isn't great right now, but it's still one of the biggest marketing tools you have at your disposal.
Facebook has seen its fair share of ups and downs in the past year. From overestimating video view time to advertisers, to stirring up deep controversy over privacy breaches, the social media giant has fallen under increased criticism and scrutiny.
Related: 8 Reasons Facebook Will Beat All Other Digital Marketing Channels This Year
Despite these problems, Facebook remains a powerful tool for businesses trying to reach new customers. Even with its troubles, Facebook's more than two billion active monthly users make it a power to be reckoned with. And that includes you, because a large proportion of your target audience in all likelihood has a presence on this social media platform.
That's why you should, too -- and that means doing more than just maintaining a business page on Facebook that you occasionally update. Here’s a closer look at some of the ways your company should be using Facebook to up its marketing game:
1. Look for ways to add to the conversation.
Many page owners are content with simply posting on their Facebook feed and occasionally responding if they receive a direct message from one of their customers. But if you want to increase engagement with your posts and generate a more active following, you’ll need to be more proactive in reaching out to your target audience.
While asking users to share their feedback or commentary on a post is a great way to increase engagement, you can take things a step further by initiating conversations in the comments section of your posts.
By responding to user comments with helpful, relevant and friendly posts, you can turn your Facebook page into a mini customer service center -- which will ultimately encourage even greater engagement.
The sooner you respond to these comments and private messages, the greater engagement you’ll receive. It never hurts to assign someone the responsibility of monitoring your social media accounts throughout the day to take advantage of these conversation-starting opportunities.
2. Move beyond "Pages"; start a Facebook group.
Facebook Pages has long been the go-to hub for businesses, but with adjustments to Facebook’s algorithms causing organic reach to decrease even more, many savvy business owners are instead turning to Facebook groups.
To learn more about this trend, I reached out to David Schloss, founder and CEO of Convert ROI. In an email, Schloss explained to me that, “Facebook groups are the perfect place to engage with your most loyal customers. It’s easier to start conversations and build a true sense of community in a group, because you can share more personalized content.
“The biggest advantage, though," Scholoss continued, "is that it’s easier for posts to get to your target audience, thanks to group notification settings. You won’t have to worry about your posts getting filtered out by the algorithm, ensuring greater engagement.”
Rather than investing even more of your budget to boost your posts, creating an active Facebook group will ensure that your most engaged audience members are always aware of your newest content.
3. Unleash the power of the "Pixel."
One of the biggest changes to Facebook’s marketing offerings is the Facebook Pixel, a coding option that allows business owners to more fully integrate their Facebook ad campaigns with their websites.
The Facebook Pixel is added to your website’s code so it can report on actions that customers take after viewing your ads on Facebook. The Pixel essentially acts as a form of conversion optimization by tracking when customers take desired actions and then using this data to help build more relevant custom audiences. This information can also be used to retarget customers who have visited your website.
Ultimately, the Facebook Pixel is an essential part of your modern marketing toolkit, helping with everything from more precise targeting to tracking campaign results.
4. Turn existing posts into ads.
There’s a difference between simply boosting a normal Facebook post and publishing an ad. But, quite often the most effective ads are those that don’t appear overly promotional. Wouldn’t it be nice to create organic-looking Facebook ads without needing to develop a completely new campaign?
As it turns out, Facebook’s Ad Manager allows you to do just that by letting you select the option “Use Existing Post” to turn a standard post into an ad -- a great way to save time on your campaign.
As Julia Bramble wrote on Social Media Exminer: “This tactic is perfect if, for example, one of your posts has attracted much more engagement than you expected and you want to share it out to a wider audience. Or maybe you want to make sure that the ad you’re planning also gets posted on your page.”
5. Save time with saved audiences.
Most business owners understand the importance of using Facebook’s detailed targeting options to reach individuals who are most likely to convert. But building out a custom audience for each ad campaign can prove extremely time consuming. Thankfully, saved audiences can streamline your targeting so you can spend more time focused on crafting high-quality content.
With a saved audience, you can select your targeting preferences with a single click when creating future campaigns. Keep in mind, however, that you should regularly re-evaluate your targeting options to ensure you are reaching the right groups. You can also use multiple saved audiences to conduct A/B testing to see which groups respond best to different keyword sets.