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Facebook for business – the why and the how

Gus and Vlad, forensic web analysts from the Web Detective Agency, discussing what is an ‘engaged’ website visitor. Vlad is not sure he understands.

Gus: OK Vlad, just imagine a sales funnel. People don’t just come to your website and within 30 seconds they have placed an order. There is a process of the visitor becoming engaged with the brand.

Vlad: I still don’t understand what ‘engaged’ means.

Gus: See it as a necessary step before an order is placed; that the visitor is interested in your brand, your products or service, and is ready to place an order. That could happen on their first visit but it might be their fifth visit.

Vlad: I have read Eric T Petersen’s writings about ‘scoring’ visitors on the basis of what content they viewed, whether they were returning, if it was a direct visit, length of session and whether they completed other non-transactional goals. But it’s not easy to get your head around.

Gus: I agree, it’s not straightforward. Plus, each business will weight these factors differently and therefore come up with a different ‘engagement score’. My issue is that there are ways of engaging a visitor with your brand off-site.

Vlad: What do you mean ‘off-site’?

Gus: I think social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are playing increasingly important roles in delivering an ‘engaged’ visitor to your website.

Vlad: You mean, Facebook or Twitter as a referring site?

Gus: Yes, but more than that. I mean that a website visitor has spent time interacting with your brand on your Facebook page, and becoming comfortable with what you offer, learnt more about the business and the people – and then they come to website far readier and more prepared to transact. Ultimately, back to sales funnel approach, if you have more ‘engaged’ visitors coming onto your site you’ll have higher conversion rates.

Vlad: Are you suggesting that our clients should be investing in Facebook; building and maintaining pages and content?

Gus: I am, yes. There are other reasons why businesses should be seriously looking at Facebook as an opportunity

Firstly, the number of visits that Facebook receives is now higher than Google. You see the how Google’s traffic in blue was surpassed by Facebook’s in 2008.

With over 400m Facebook accounts, every demographic is on there. Even you have got a Facebook account, Vlad. This means that our client’s target audience is there already.

Vlad: Are you saying that as well as maintaining an e-commerce website, our clients have got to be building other sites as well?

Gus: If that’s where there audience is, then yes, of course.

Vlad: OK, but how do you think most businesses are currently thinking about Facebook?

Gus: I suppose it divides into three groups. Those who haven’t realised the importance of Facebook and so have done nothing. Those that have got a presence, but not really understood how to use it to create engaged visitors, and I think a small group currently of companies who are making a good fist of their Facebook presence.

Dave Chaffey lists some examples of business who have built engaging Facebook pages including STA Travel, Dell’s Social Media for Small Businesses, Howies, Marmite, The National Trust and Wiggly Wigglers.

Vlad: I have heard of Wiggly Wigglers, they do these fantastic off-the-wall podcasts about wormeries and composting.

Gus: It’s also interesting to hear from Justin Kistner that big brands like Unilever and Coca Cola are reallocating all the budget for developing microsites, and instead investing these funds in developing their Facebook presence, including Facebook apps.

Vlad: Presumably, because they already have a lot of traffic going to their current Facebook pages, whereas they will need to build the traffic to these microsites from scratch?

Gus: Exactly.

The most commonly cited reasons for businesses to invest in Facebook are firstly, to get found by people looking for your product and service ..

Vlad: But that’s what Google does?

Gus: I know, but since there’s now more traffic going to Facebook than Google, you also need to have a presence on Facebook.

Secondly, Facebook is good way of connecting, and back to our theme, of ‘engaging’ your customers and prospects. Three, it’s a good environment in which you build a sense of community around your business and merchandise, and also it’s a great way to promote the content you’ve got.

Vlad: Plus, there will also be some SEO benefits as well.

Gus: Right, you have a lot of control over both the content and Facebook that can help with your SEO ranking. Creating links to and from your website will help, having specific landing pages or tabs” will help direct traffic to the right place as well as posting keyword rich content into particular parts of your Facebook profile. There’s a lot of help out there to improve your SEO from Facebook.

Vlad: All of that’s good, but whenever Facebook is mentioned on the news it seems to be always some issue with privacy.

Gus: Yeah, I know. I think as a business they are walking a fine line between ‘helping people to share their content’ and giving control to users over their visibility on Facebook. But I am sure that they aware that if they screw up on privacy, the consequences would be monumental.

Vlad: Isn’t that an argument to sit it out and see what happens?

Gus: It could be. It depends on how one’s competitors might react to the Facebook opportunity.

Given the momentum behind social media, I think the ‘do nothing’ approach is the riskiest one.

Vlad: OK, but before we dive into Facebook with our clients, I need to understand what makes an engaging Facebook presence, what type of page they should have, etc. etc.

Gus: Agreed. The first thing to realise is that as a business you can opt to set up a Group or a Page on Facebook.

Vlad: What’s the difference?

Gus: In a nutshell, brands should build a Page rather than a Group. Pages are indexed by search engines and you can add apps from the list of 55,000 available Facebook applications. With groups you don’t get these benefits, and that’s why Pages work better. Here’s a good link to explain the difference between Pages and Groups in more detail.

Vlad: But, presumably you can’t just stick up a Facebook and not maintain it?

Gus: Right, not maintaining it and keeping it up-to-date could look worse than not having a Facebook presence at all.

Vlad: So our clients are going to have commit resources to maintaining their pages. And if they are spending time on this then the client will want to measure their impact of their efforts.

Gus: Exactly, and you know a few things about measuring social media, but first of all I want to look at what makes a great Facebook page.

Vlad: OK, let’s talk about measurement later.

Gus: Here’s a list of things to get right when setting up your Facebook page

  1. Get a vanity URL that is easy to remember and includes your brand name, e.g.
  2. Spend time on making sure you have a compelling landing page – see Oxfam’s
  3. Just like you would with a website home page, make it obvious what you offer and a what visitor can do on your Facebook page
  4. Don’t let visitors arrive on your Wall – you have less control of what your fans are saying, so the first time that a visitor arrives you want to ensure that they understand the benefit your business offers
  5. Use the Custom Tabs, as Oxfam have done, to segment your visitors into those with particular interests
  6. Make sure there is up-to-date, relevant content on your Pages
  7. Cross-promote your other channels – retail outlets, catalogue , online shop, Twitter feed, etc
  8. Investigate what Facebook apps are likely to be appealing to your target audience
  9. Finally, remember to comments on your fans’ comments and participate in the discussion

Vlad: You mentioned that there are lots of apps that you can add to your Page. What types of apps are popular.

Gus: There are over 50,000 apps so there is going to be something for everyone. The obvious ones to include are slideshows of your pics, product feeds, surveys and polls, discount coupons, the Facebook online shop, events as well as wishlists and games. A good place to start is Involver who develop both free and paid-for apps.

Added to this you have got FMBL, which is an evolved subset of HTML. This gives you even more control over your environment.

Vlad: And what about the wisdom of advertising on Facebook.

Gus: I agree with Justin Kistner of Webtrends, although the Facebook’s advertising platform is nowhere near as mature as Google Adwords, it is worth building up expertise in using Facebook’s platform.

If the Facebook’s traffic continues to build then more and more businesses will start to consider migrating some of the paid search budget to Facebook. Ideally, you want to be ahead of that curve, so you are not coming to it totally green.

Vlad: From my reading, it seems Facebook is investing in giving its Page owners more usable data.

Have you seen the analytics interface ?

You get to see demographic data of your fans, as well as the interactions taking place on your page.

Interestingly, Facebook are offering an API where you can get more data from this source than you can from these report.

Gus: I thought you had some reservations about the tagging up your Facebook page with your tags from your analytics provider?

Vlad: I do. Based on reports, I understand that Facebook are prone to change some technical architecture, often with warning. This means that your tags may not collect the data in the way you first envisaged.

If you are using your tags inside your Facebook Pages then you need to monitor their accuracy far more regularly than you would on your website. It’s down to the fact that you’re not in control of the platform.

Gus: What other options do you have to measure your efforts on Facebook.

Vlad: Apart from exploring what data you can get out of the Facebook API, you should set up a filter to isolate your Facebook traffic in your analytics tool. By default, we set up a social media filter for our clients on the Google Analytics account, and then reassign the medium of traffic as ‘social ’ rather than ‘referral’.

Here’s the list of referrers we capture and reassign as medium = ‘social’


This means you can look at how social media traffic behaves differently to other sources of traffic. But unless you have tagged up your Facebook pages with your own tags, and accepted the extra monitoring you will need to do, you should be focussed on analysing the results from two reporting systems – Facebook and Google Analytics.

Another thing you can do is to use Hubspot’s Facebook Grader. The tool works by analyzing the number of friends you have, how important those friends are, the completeness of your profile is, how many wall posts you have and how many groups you belong to.

But measuring Facebook activity is, in principle, no different from measuring website activity. It requires our clients to focus on what business outcomes they want to achieve and always be tying the data back to these objectives. We recently produced a book review on Social Media Metrics and Jim Sterne is adamant that just because it’s ‘social media’ doesn’t mean the measures we use shouldn’t be ‘hard’.

Gus: I think for me, the interesting thing about developing a Facebook presence is what this might mean for the future. If the momentum of the ‘social graph’ continues, then the idea that we should be trying to drive visitors to our little ol’ standalone e-commerce website may seem very old-fashioned. If people are living their lives on social media platforms, then that is where businesses should be.

We’ve already heard reports that conversion rates are higher on Facebook where the conversion occurs on Facebook. With the growth of apps, it’s hard to conceive a scenario where a Facebook visitors would need to leave that environment to complete a process or transaction.

And we haven’t even begun to talk about the impact of mobile devices..

Vlad: That’s for another day.

Conversion Rate Optimisation – or CRO – may seem like a dark art if you’ve never experienced it first-hand. Ecommerce companies who embrace CRO claim to get stellar results and ever increasing online sales.

If you’d like to replicate their achievements, then the first step is to understand the CRO process as a whole. To help with that, we’ve created this infographic which gives an overview of all the key elements involved in successful CRO, designed like the well-known periodic table for chemical elements.

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