Before you make any steps to go further into the digital space, you need to get your current channels working for you as best they can.
A Facebook page is typically one of the first digital channels people jump onto - it’s a no-brainer when you think of the stats around how many people are on there. It’s also a very familiar environment for many of us, with so many now using it for personal use to connect with friends and family.
However, you need a very different approach when using a Facebook page for your organisation, as opposed to personal use. You’ll need a solid plan in place to make sure you’re making the most of it.
To Facebook or not to Facebook
Apart from China, Facebook around the world is extremely popular. It is the largest social network site in the world, with over a billion and a half active users, and at the moment, it seems like it’s here to stay - at least for a while.
So it makes sense to be on there, and to make the most of the opportunity.
"Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission - to make the world more open and connected."
Don’t just jump on though - have a plan!
Many organisations have jumped on the Facebook wave, and many have done so without a plan - almost in sheer panic to not be left behind or miss an opportunity. Many just use it like they would a website, or their own personal page, thinking that just by being present, that will be enough.
However, being on Facebook without a plan could do you more harm than good.
If you’re on Facebook, as with any other digital tool, you need to know what your objectives are, what your plan is and the resources and budget you’ll need to manage it.
What’s your overall objective or goal for having a Facebook page? It’s not enough to just be present.
What good is the investment of time and energy into your Facebook page if it doesn’t lead to revenue, website traffic, or other marketing objectives?
Be clear about what you are trying to accomplish. Common objectives include leads, traffic, reach, and sales.
Have a budget
Despite Facebook’s ‘It’s free and always will be’ claim, if you’re going to gain any ground with your social media efforts, then you’ll need to put some budget into it to help you along.
Facebook algorithms dictate how many people see your updates so it’s important to factor some advertising spend to boost your exposure. Without spend, your posts will only be seen by around 1-2% of your followers.
Applying a budget also allows you to target the people you want to see your posts, which makes your content much more valuable to your end goal.
Who are you talking to?
If you don’t know who your audience is, then your content won’t resonate with them. And it’s not just a matter of thinking in generic terms, such as ‘international students - that’s my audience!’ You need to break it down. Who, exactly, is your target student? Where are they in the world? Think parents too. Perhaps agents are in the mix as well.
Knowing your audience will tell you who you are talking to, what interests them, what concerns they have, and what brought them into your sphere of influence. It gives you a foundation to begin understanding how to fashion your content to match.
Check out the project on personas, to get an idea of who you might aim to talk to.
Once you have a good understand of who your key audience is, you can focus on what content will interest and motivate them.
Remember, content is king - Facebook is about conversations and connection points. So tell stories and match them to your audience.
Realise that most people won’t care about you
In all likelihood, it’s your current students, alumni, and other key stakeholders who have had direct contact with you, who will make up the bulk of fans on your Facebook page.
Everyone else doesn’t care about your organisation. They care about their own needs and interests. And even the people who are your fan, probably have quite limited interest unless your content has direct relevance to them.
So giving people a compelling (and on-going!) reason to stick around is critical.
So what content and engagement can you give them that they can’t find anywhere else? Education? Entertainment? Emotional reactions? Connection points with other students?
Get over any assumptions that make you think that your fans are innately interested in you. Think - How are you making them care?
Again, it comes back to audience. Who are they? What makes them tick?
Fit your posts to your attributes
Your attributes are all the unique things that you are, and want to be known for, and which make you stand out.
Your Facebook posts should then speak to these attributes, and tie in with your goals and objectives. Your attributes are part of what makes you different. Unique. Worthy of interest and connection.
In your planning, this about how you can use your attributes to create conversations. Know what makes you different and build on it so your audience has something to connect to.
Set up a calendar schedule for your posts
To make content planning easier, and take advantage of opportunities in the future, plan your posts in advance.
Having a plan in place for regular posts will help you streamline your activity, look for good content and be regular and consistent with your posting. Check out our content plan project.
How often should you update?
You don’t need to be on your Facebook page every moment of the day, but you do need a plan for making consistent updates.
It’s the consistent part that’s key. Your updates on Facebook need to be kept consistent, the audience needs to know your rhythm. If you go from a burst of enthusiasm and post and reply to comments every day, then let weeks go by because you’re too busy, you’ll be killing your reputation online. This goes even more so if there’s a negative comment on there and you haven’t addressed it swiftly (see our project on Handling complaints on social media).
So if you haven’t already, set up a system for updating your Facebook page. Make it achievable and sustainable. It might be every couple of days that you post and respond. Whatever it is, make it consistent.
Exercise: Audit your page
Take a look at your existing Facebook page (or factor in a page audit into your plan development if you’re yet to jump onto Facebook).
Ask yourself some key questions:
- Does your current content appeal to your target audiences?
- Why or why not?
- Are you giving people reasons and opportunity to engage?
- Are you promoting too much and acting in your interests, instead of your audience’s?
People often lose sight of what matters on Facebook. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about being a part of a community and providing value.
Take an honest look at your page and get advice direct from your target audience. Ask people what they like and don’t like about your page, and take their recommendations into account as part of your content planning.
- Have a plan for what you want to achieve
- Get yourself some budget
- Know who you’re talking to and give them reasons to connect with you
- Set up a schedule for regular posts
- Link it all together with your content marketing plan