20 Essential Facebook Marketing Tips From AF Expo

Here are 20 really essential Facebook marketing tips gleaned from AF Expo, followed by three questions the event raised that will likely be addressed at Socialize this October.

Want some tips you can put into immediate action, straight from the first conference devoted exclusively to Facebook marketing? Well I have those tips, because I took really good notes during the conference sponsored by this very blog in San Francisco last week; tweets about AF Expo generated 1,463,854 impressions, reaching an audience of 392,225 followers, according to Alan K’necht. Wowza.

20 Facebook Marketing Takeaways From AF Expo

Here are the essential takeaways from the conference.

  1. Facebook marketing is about getting the right fans, not just lots of fans.
  2. Having a lot of fans also enables you to market to fans’ friends.
  3. Because of EdgeRank, most pages don’t reach most of their fans. In fact, see this post on the PageLever data about how only 7.5 percent of fans see page posts daily.
  4. Don’t just push messages at your fans — engage them.
  5. Market like a mullet — business in front and party in the back (thanks to Duncan from Firebelly for that one!)
  6. Public relations wants a seat at the social media table and everyone should please leave their silos work together as a team on Social Media!
  7. The data shows that Facebook is a top of funnel influencer for many online sales and last-click analytics will not give Facebook all the credit it deserves.
  8. Images in Facebook ads are critical. Try faces. It is called FACEbook, isn’t it?
  9. High clickthrough rates on Facebook ads lowers click and fan costs.
  10. Contests shouldn’t be used to get fans, but to engage fans.
  11. Facebook should complement, not replace your website.
  12. Consumers don’t use Facebook nine to five, so you can’t be a community manager with those limited hours.
  13. Brands overcomplicate Facebook marketing which lowers response rates. Keep it simple. People are busy.
  14. Iterative creative makes more sense in Social Media (than traditional all-at-once unchangeable creative, which really came from the limitations of print media).
  15. People connect emotionally — think about what emotions your brand inspires.
  16. People connect with businesses that align with causes. What does your company believe in?
  17. 80 percent of fans from ads come from the like on the ad- these new fans never see your custom landing tab.
  18. Don’t take numbers as is — compare them to your industry’s average, e.g. fan counts and likes and comments per post.
  19. Business-to-business Facebook marketing can work, but stop talking so much about your company and engage!
  20. There’s no right number of posts per day for every company — don’t post if you have nothing, but post 10 times if you have that much to share. And some businesses, like tourism and sports, are very seasonal and have more to say at certain times of year.

That’s a lot! The event also raised some questions for me.

3 Questions Raised During The Conference

I’d love for the Facebook marketing community to think about these three questions with me and see if any data comes up in the next few months to help answer them. We’ll have an opportunity to discuss the answers at the forthcoming Socialize conference October 20 to 21 in San Francisco.

1. Does marketing through friends really work?

Sure, if I have 100,000 fans and they have 200 friends then I can reach 20,000,000 people, but does this pass the common sense test? Most of my Facebook friends have only one or two things in common with me. I don’t care if you like Nikes more just because you’re my friend. That won’t get me to buy them. And the interests I’m most passionate about? I probably only have about 50 friends who are into those things.

Now, if Facebook starts showing me posts based on my interests and keywords in friends’ posts, then friend marketing makes sense. Otherwise, I’m not so sure. I think it makes more sense right now to directly reach the potential customers who like the kind of thing your business offers.

2. Does critical mass really matter?

I heard this phrase about five times the first day of the event. There are two ways to define critical mass- either as “I can reach a meaningful percentage of my potential audience” or “now that I have x number of fans I will go viral by word of mouth.”

The first one makes sense but it’s hard to define — does having 40 percent of Facebook marketing fans (especially if my posts only reach say 20 percent of those fans) really give me substantial mindshare? How do we measure that impact?

And as far as viral critical mass goes, the biggest problem with viral marketing, which almost no one talks about, is that the viral coefficient has to be greater than one for viral to even happen. Otherwise, it always peters out. I haven’t seen very many examples of real viral success.

Viral marketing has to be the most overrated buzzword in social media. It’s not that it never works — it’s just so difficult to get it to work and actually sell what you offer at the same time. Yes, the Old Spice guy went mega-nuclear-viral and boosted sales by $3.5 million, but how many companies have that kind of advertising and production budget, and how many other examples do we have of this working? Viral is a long-shot.

The most practical viral thing I can think of on Facebook is some kind of application that makes it easier for people to share… but wait, people can already share with Facebook’s normal functionality.

3. Is a Facebook Page really a community?

We talk about managing a page as if it’s a community — we need community managers, and so on. But how is it a community if I only see the page’s posts in my news feed, and I don’t see other community members’ posts unless I go back to the page itself?

The data shows most people don’t do that. I see comments on posts started by the community leader — so it’s more like moderated discussion meeting than a community. It’s more hierarchical.

Facebook groups notify everyone in the group when someone posts or comments — more like an open discussion. That sounds more like a community to me.

Brian Carter is chief executive officer of FanReach Facebook Marketing Courses.