Can you believe that Facebook’s Timeline feature is nearly a year old? 12 months later, small businesses are still trying to figure out how to use the visually-driven and slightly complex design to its full advantage. One thing that’s clear is that if your brand page is ugly, it’s time for an overhaul. While content may be king, an image is still worth a thousand words, and potentially even more. According to a recent study by Fast Company, 44% of social media users are most-likely to engage with companies if you post visual content.
Here is a list of things your company might not be doing on Facebook and some ways to ensure that your visual imaging is up to par, so you can build relationships with Facebook’s billion-strong user base:
1. You’re Not Taking Advantage of the Cover Photo
First impressions matter on social media, and your cover photo is the first chance your company has to impress a prospect. When the feature first launched, a Facebook rep stated that it was prime real estate to “capture the culture and essence of a brand [so they] can showcase their products.” Eye-tracking research on social media users indicates the average viewer spends the most time on a brand page examining the cover photo. There’s a myriad of brands using cover photos the right way, and clothing retailer the Gap is a prime example:
Given the fact that 100% of page viewers will pay close attention to your cover photo, you’re probably flubbing your strategy if it isn’t the star attraction.
2. You’re Not Using Visual Content
If you’re relying exclusively on text and links for Facebook posts, your page likely isn’t as appealing as it could be. Images are twice as effective at driving engagement as plain text updates, so it stands to reason that a text-only timeline isn’t catching your prospects’ eyes. Take a look at a screen shot of Marketo’s timeline for an example:
3. You’re Not Pinning or Highlighting Posts
Facebook brand pages have the option to pin their best posts at the top of their news feed, or alternatively highlight content. By selecting the star-shaped highlight icon, you can change the update’s display to the entire width of your brand page. “Pin to top” is limited to one post a week, but it holds the post at the very top of the timeline. Your social media fans are hit with a great deal of noise, and sending your prettiest content straight to the top can direct their eyes to your most-attractive content. Take another look at a Marketo example of a pinned post:
4. You’re Not Organizing Your Apps
Directly below your cover photo lie your apps, and the same eye-tracking research indicates they get the second-most attention of any content on your Facebook page. There are currently more than 3,000 options available to companies, which include the near-ubiquitous photos, video and events. Custom-built apps are also available. Ensure your options are listed in order of importance to your brand through careful organization. Red Bull does an excellent job of organizing their apps for first-time Facebook page visitors:
Due to the inherently customizable nature of apps, figure out what works best for your brand. The worst thing you can do is not take advantage of this opportunity to stand out.
5. You’re Using Stock Photography
Swapping out photos of your actual staff members for stock photography isn’t doing you any favors. In fact, purchased images of models have been shown to be 95% less effective at generating leads than their authentic counterparts. The company behind the research, Marketing Experiments, speculates that consumers are pretty good at identifying irrelevant images.
While the example above is clearly fictitious, it’s a pretty good illustration of how to not approach social media marketing. Don’t be boring, don’t be posed, and don’t try to showcase your brand identity by using images you bought online.
6. You’re Not Using Fan-Generated Content
If there’s anything your future social media cheerleaders are bound to adore, it’s seeing that your company actively engages their customers on social media. Mashable Contributor Lauren Drell recommends starting to “embrace and show off your fans – post their pictures and Instagrams.” Is there a better way to spotlight the people who make your small business possible than spotlighting user-generated content about your product or services? Salad chain SweetGreen does this well on a regular basis:
In an era where visual content is king, taking every opportunity to boost the eye-candy on your small business Facebook page is your best bet for out-marketing your competitors. Through a combination of keeping your content and brand messaging authentic, and knowing basic best practices, your engagement rates will surely soar.
How do you cope with the complex Facebook page management? Would you add any other points to the list? What are your pains? I keep my ears out for your comments!