Whether you use Facebook as your exclusive digital outreach, or as one piece of your online efforts, a little bit of knowledge goes a long way. Random updates and haphazard sharing aren’t going to gain followers; but with these best practices in place, you can work to gain new customers and increase customer loyalty.

Build Your Customer List

Without customer contact information, your Facebook efforts are limited; you can only contact your followers via Facebook. By including an email newsletter signup form on your Facebook page, you create a valuable contact list of interested people. You can reach out to them anytime via email.

The easiest way to add a signup form to your page is with an app; major email services such MailChimp, AWeber, and ConstantContact all have signup form apps. Follow the instructions to install the app on your page, and you’ll be able to collect customer email addresses from Facebook that go right into your email service. Make it worthwhile for customers and potential customers to give you their information with exclusive coupons or content once they sign up.

Back Up Your Content

Any content you create, including surveys, photos, videos, blog posts, updates, and so on, is yours; you can use it for customer insight, marketing materials, and other digital publications down the road. Don’t lose it.

Start an archive now by downloading all your currently published Facebook content; just just follow these instructions. Once you’ve created your archive, make it a habit to back up your content regularly (weekly is a good idea; set a calendar reminder). Services such as Digi.me and  Backupify make the entire process automated and easy.

Stay Up to Date on Policy Changes

New or updated Facebook policies might change the way you run your page, the content you can share, and how much your followers see your content. It’s important that you stay up-to-date with policy changes.

Check the official Facebook newsroom for news and announcements. You can also subscribe to newsletters from sites like Social Media Examiner and Marketing Land, which focus on following social media trends and news and sharing it in understandable terms.

Be Awesome at Updates

Updates are the heart of your Facebook page. The most popular updates are short, have an image, and convey a quick question, statement, or tidbit of information. In other words, they’re easy to understand and digest as users scroll through the newsfeed.

Try different types of updates and track the responses you get; do your customers love answering questions, “liking” a product photo, or sharing a neat factoid? Sharing a variety of these quick, tasty update treats keeps your followers interested in seeing what you share.

Share Generously (and Relevantly)

It’s a lot of work to come up with original content, day after day. The good news: you don’t have to come up with all of it yourself. Seek out relevant content that fits with the tone, or personality, of your business. Content you share should relate to your business in an obvious way; one grocery store, for example, took to sharing great food photography and food-related memes.

Dig into websites and social pages related to your industry for great content to share. Just avoid your direct competitors; you don’t want to double-share the content they’ve already found. Instead, look beyond your direct competition but within your industry or within related topics.

Develop a Facebook Ad Strategy

Even if you do become awesome at updates, it’s difficult to reach many followers, or to attract new ones, by depending on organic reach. A key part of your Facebook strategy should be good Facebook ads. You can set an affordable budget to boost a post so that it reaches a wider audience. You can also designate some of your marketing budget for a sidebar ad or a newsfeed ad.

Follow the advice for a great update when creating a Facebook ad: keep them short, catchy, and include a great image. Target your ads as specifically as possible; people expect highly relevant, customized advertising rather than generic, one-size-fits-all campaigns. Track your ads so you can learn which ones your customers really respond to, and which fall a little flat.

Share Your Personality

People want to connect with other people, not with corporations or businesses. So, write your posts in first person. Identify the individuals behind opinions, ideas, great photos, and tips. Be as personable, friendly, and real as you would be if you were having a conversation in-store with a customer, face-to-face.

People love getting insider knowledge: whether that’s a recipe, a special tip, a day-in-the-life look, a shared joke or bit of info from inside your business, or simply a first-person perspective from your shelves and services. Be real. The more you let your natural enthusiasm and professional knowledge shine through your Facebook page, the more followers will come to love and pay attention to what you share.

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