An estimated 42% of small businesses in the U.S. now have a Facebook page. And about 70% of small businesses overall plan to use social media this year. But beyond that the landscape gets murky. While having a Facebook page is now “the thing to do,” a decidedly small percentage of businesses have any idea what works on Facebook and what doesn’t.
The painful truth is that while having a Facebook page is a necessary first step to tapping social media marketing, the wrong approach can actually be harmful. New research just out offers these guidelines for business success on Facebook:
1) Avoid the “business hours” trap. Most businesses post content to their Facebook pages during the middle of the day (roughly 10 am to 4 pm). But that’s not when most people are listening. New research shows that businesses posting content to Facebook either before or after those hours get 20% more responses. Your goal is to have your posts appear at the top of fan news feeds at a time when they are most likely to be looking. Services such as HootSuite, TweetDeck and others let you schedule your posts to appear whenever you want. Don’t post just because it fits your own schedule.
2) Day of the week matters. But it’s different for different types of businesses. Saturday is the worst day, followed by Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Most content is posted on Mondays, creating more competition and ”noise” to break through. Research conducted by Facebook shows that people are happier on Thursdays and Fridays (you can probably guess why), so engagement rates on those two days are nearly 20% higher overall.
3) Industry matters, too. Best days to post will also depend on what type of business you have. For example, weekends are for autos, and peak customer engagement for auto-related businesses is on Sunday, by a wide margin. No other day comes close. But according to Buddy Media, which provides social media services to big brands, few businesses in the auto industry have yet caught on to this. Here are best days for other industries: Finance (Wed. and Thurs.); fashion (Thurs.); Restaurants and Bars (Tues., Wed.); Healthcare and Beauty (Thurs.); Sports (Sun.); Travel (Thurs., Fri.).
4) Don’t be bashful about asking people to “Like” your business on Facebook. According to Buddy Media’s research, the direct approach – come right out and ask for it – works best. In short, Buddy found that “fans” tend to follow directions well. But the simpler, the better. If you want people to post comments, for example, ask a direct question and request a response.
5) Avoid overtly promotional language. On Facebook, experience shows that for most businesses, a soft sell approach works best. For example, if you run a contest, using the words “event,” “win” and “winner” rather than “contest” or “promotion” will get better results. People get excited about winning, while a “sweepstakes” sounds more like you are trying to sell them something.
6) End with (the right kind of) a question. According to Buddy Media, Facebook posts that end with a question get 15% more responses. So if your goal is to generate engagement, end your post with a question. But don’t ask “why.” That’s too philosophical. Instead, questions about when, where, would and should are much more likely to succeed in engaging visitors to your page.
Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest® Media Corp. All Rights Reserved.
About the Author: Daniel Kehrer, Founder and Chief Content Officer of BizBest Media, is a senior-level leader in digital media, content development and online marketing with special expertise in startups, SMB, social media and generating traffic, engagement and leads. He holds an MBA from UCLA/Anderson and is a passionate entrepreneur (started 4 businesses), syndicated columnist, blogger, thought leader and author of 7 business and financial books.