If you are still thinking Facebook is only for posting dog or cat photos, wedding plans or break-up rants; sit down, I have to throw some numbers at you.
It goes without saying that Facebook is a behemoth – it has over 2 billion monthly users.
And yes, it’s a center of social activity for many. But the site has become so integral to daily life that a 2016 Pew report found that two-thirds of Facebook users turn to the site not only for updates from their friends, but for their regular news updates as well.
That’s a little scary when you think about it. But I digress…
And what about online shopping? As more people begin and end their purchasing journey online, where does Facebook fit in?
Purchasing Decisions Are Driven by Social Media
Facebook’s own research indicates that by 2020, over half of the connected world will be making purchases online. More significantly, those purchases are increasingly being driven by finds on social media rather than web search.
A recent article in Philadelphia, How Social Media Makes You Buy Things You Never Knew You Needed, attests to the power of social media to influence purchasing decisions. Citing research by e-commerce technology company, Curalate, Philadelphia’s Fabiola Cineas writes that forty percent of consumers reported shopping online at least once a week. Further, among younger consumers, Facebook led the way when it came to product discoveries.
Marketers Recognize Facebook’s Influence
Facebook’s power to reach consumers hasn’t been lost on marketers who have quickly flocked to the site making it a primary target for their consumer facing ads and promotional messages. In the spring of 2017, Facebook revealed that over 5 million businesses were investing in paid advertising. The company also reported that over 65 million businesses maintained an official presence on the platform.
The social media network has actively encouraged businesses to grow their presence on the platform, creating a host of tools and tutorials designed to make it easier to do business on Facebook. In fact, Facebook’s brand-friendly approach to growth has been so successful, that contributors to publications including Entrepreneur, AdWeek, and Digiday all tag Facebook as a ‘must-be’ place for brands.
For all these reasons and more, your brand should be there too. Maybe you already have a business ‘page’ in addition to your personal account. That’s good.
But is it working for you? Is anyone engaging with your posts?
Consumers Don’t Want Invasive Ads
People are drawn to social media because they want to form connections. No one logs into their social media account looking for the latest “look at me” promotional advertising. Millions of users aren’t going online each day in search of commercial ads and calls to action.
Jake Doyle, writing for Visual Revolt, tells us that consumers “hate being advertised to.” Doyle further adds, “Advertising as it was known in the early half of this century is not just outdated and hardly relevant, it’s downright aggressively annoying.”
Consumers are not only repelled by traditional advertising, given the opportunity they will take active measures to avoid it.
In contrast, look through the Facebook feed and what do you see? Conversations!
People commenting and others replying.
When you create engaging and responsive content, you entertain and inform your audience. You are giving them exactly what they want. You are communicating with your customers, not at them.
And there is nothing more engaging than stories.
Storytelling Nurtures Relationships
In my book, Don’t Sell Me, Tell Me, I explain how storytelling forms a connection between the teller and the audience. A good story engages your audience’s mind and heart, helps them to understand you (and your brand), and develops rapport.
These characteristics are what makes storytelling on social media so powerful.
Storytelling is also participatory. A good storyteller observes and responds to his or her audience. Facebook is the ideal setting for you to achieve a give-and-take with your customers. Through live video and customer comments you can get immediate feedback from your audience.
What begins as an introduction to you and your company can grow into a community of brand advocates who are aligned with and support your company’s values and goals.
Plus, storytelling makes you memorable. Our minds recall information best when it is anchored by the familiar. Stories that trigger an emotional response or entertain or intrigue your audience are more likely to be remembered than taglines, features, facts and figures.
Set Your Brand Apart With the Stories You Share
When a simple online search can produce product and service choices from around the globe it becomes more important than ever to communicate the unique benefits of your brand in a memorable way.
Storytelling is that way.
But what should you say when you post?
To make your posts work for you, tell your customers who you are and what you stand for. Use the power of storytelling on Facebook to share your vision for your company’s future. Or give your audience a look behind the scenes. Ask their opinion or enlist their support for a shared cause.
In other words, have a conversation and let them get to know you. That alone will create a stronger reason to choose to do business with you, more than any spec sheet or “buy my stuff” type of message.
Just the other day I had a new customer reach out to me and say, “as soon as I read some of your posts, I felt like I had to meet this guy.”
Your story can start attracting your ideal customers for you.
Look, it’s still marketing. But instead of viewing it as spending a budget buying ad space and eyeballs, you are investing effort in the ‘social’ part of this media.
I’ll be talking more about how to craft good stories soon. But the best teacher is practice.
So, promise me you’ll give it a try. It’s got to be better than scrolling through cat memes…