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5 Killer Learnings from the aimClear Facebook Intensive Workshop

June 25, 2012

Whilst I was sad to miss out on SMX Advanced this year, I was very lucky to attend one of the all day workshops that followed. And this wasn’t just any workshop. This was the Facebook Intensive Workshop hosted by the awesomesauce aimClear crew (Marty, Merry and Lauren) and the lovely Will Scott from Search Influence.

Now I admit, that I ‘ve never been the biggest Facebook fan. On a personal level, Facebook bores the hell out of me with all of those “my life is better than yours” status updates, not to mention the over sharing of dramatic personal crap that should only be seen on an episode of Jerry Springer. On a business level, I’ve always struggled to justify spending limited time and money on a platform that I simply don’t know how to show immediate return on.

The truth of the matter is that I’ve been doing it all wrong. This workshop really helped to shed light on a lot of these business questions. The experience and brain power in this room alone made my head explode countless times throughout the day. If you — like me — have been wondering how to be thinking about Facebook for business, today is your lucky day.

Here are just five of the many key takeaways I learned at the Facebook Intensive Workshop.

1. Facebook is a subscription list

What exactly is Facebook’s role for business? Despite reading countless articles and sitting through various talks, the answer to this question has always eluded me. It’s kind of embarrassing how simple the answer is.

Marty kindly explained that Facebook is a subscription list of contacts (and networks of contacts) which you can use to market to. Once you have built out this list you can find some pretty creative ways of using it, including:

  • Making lists of your Facebook friends and your friends’ friends
  • Checking out their LinkedIn (and other social media) profiles to learn more about them… muhahaha
  • Using this information to better target your content and messages through Facebook, or other media

2. “Likes” mean nothing if you don’t have a plan for using them

With Facebook, you should always have a goal in mind. In order to get to that goal, building up an initial Facebook “Like” base is an important first step because otherwise you have no audience to work with. Will explained that when building up a Like base, you’re not there to sell or message to people. You’re there to show affinity with them and make friends first (in order to then make the money).

There are various ways to build out your Like base. You can grow your base organically through sharing good, interesting content. Lauren advised using the 80/20 rule where 80% of what your business shares is not about yourself. You can also use paid techniques to supplement your Like base, including targeted promoted ads or sponsored stories.

Unlike promoted posts, sponsored stories target the friends of your friends by amplifying their activity with the brand. Sponsored stories get a much higher click-thru rate than promoted posts because it comes with endorsement. Unfortunately, the recent opt-out regulations announced last week could quickly reduce this pool of people.

Sponsored stories talk aside, the mistake that people often make is stopping at Like counts. The number of Facebook Likes your business gets should never be your ultimate goal because there is no value in Likes alone; it’s what you do with those Likes that matters. This is because once people Like you on Facebook, they’re more likely to do what you ask — including going to your website to complete a desired action. In fact, Will found that people who Like you on Facebook will spend twice as long on your site.

3. Make use of content aggregators 

Very few people have the time to seek out all the great content on the web to share, in order to attract Likes. This is where content aggregators come in handy. These aggregators are a great way to quickly find share-worthy content that other people would Like and want to pass onto others.

Aggregators will often categorize out content by popularity, category and vertical. Some examples of good content aggregators shared by Lauren, include:

4. Social media marketing is not a part-time job

If you work in-house, don’t have a full-time community manager or social media manager and think that you can run a proper Facebook marketing campaign, you’re a fool.

Using Facebook for business isn’t just about posting a picture or a link back to your site every so often. To do this stuff properly takes a lot of time and (most importantly) skill to do right. As Merry impressively demonstrated in the workshop, successful Facebook marketing is a multi-step process which includes a lot of research, robust segment creation, creative development, strong campaign organization, continuous testing, optimization, integration with search efforts… the list goes on.

This is by no means a short-term project. The half-arsed approach that many companies take is the reason why social media gets such a bad rap when it comes to discussions about return on investment. If you really want to use Facebook to drive actual business return, either hire a full-time social media manager who knows what they are doing (ie: not a college intern) or call in the real experts.

5. Facebook is not an island

As big as Facebook is, it’s important to remember to use other social media channels to get to conversations and other information you need, including:

  • Twitter Advanced Search to monitor topical keywords and mine for conversations
  • Twitter Lists to identify networks of similar people
  • LinkedIn Profiles to find out employment information and peer connections

Whilst it was sad to hear that this would be the last Facebook Intensive Workshop of its kind, the good news is that the workshop will be evolving to incorporate a more holistic approach of how all social media platforms can work together to improve your social media marketing efforts.

If you get the chance, I would definitely recommend signing up for one of these. The priceless insights and detailed best practices will improve your understanding and the performance of your social media efforts beyond anything else. Thanks to Marty and the team for a top day.

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