Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How to run your own Facebook Page : An entrepreneur's perspective - Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, I listed out the spadework that should be done before you launch your Facebook page - basic things like defining your objective, your target audience and your brand. Once this is done, the strategic foundation is laid for your FB page. It's not cast in stone and you can always go back and review it. The next step is to put the strategy into practice. This is where there can be many a slip between the cup and the lip. There is only one solution. Plan. Plan. And plan :) Every successful long term strategy, be it for weight loss or a Facebook page, requires long-range planning. So let me tell you, based on my own multiple slip ups, what exactly you need to plan.

1) Make a content strategy

This is the first step to translate your social media objective towards execution. Content strategy is a buzz word these days but it's not some black box. Practically, it can be as simple as a google doc where you expand on each objective you set initially - adding content ideas and making a calendar of posts accordingly.

For example, if you sell confectionery/bakery items one key objective is to announce new mouthwatering goodies each week, to keep interest levels high. You need to plan your calendar around specific times of year (festivals, seasons) when the offerings may vary. And you need to keep announcing your regular offerings like birthday cakes, cookies etc.

So you create a content strategy saying that you will do 1 post a day, and every week you need to cover 1)  2-3 cakes 2) chocolates 3) 1-2 healthy goodies 4) cookies 5) 1-2 breads 6) 1-2 eggless dishes.  Notice that the number of ideas are more than the number of posts you will put up in a week and that's a good thing. You need to put down an exhaustive list of all the types of posts that you would make in a week and then decide the post mix. You should not be featuring only cakes and neglecting breads. But maybe during Christmas, you make a conscious decision to only cover cakes, and feature 1-2 types of cake - like plum pudding. 

At the end of this exercise, your excel sheet should have three columns - date, rough content idea for that day's post and rough draft of the post. You can also keep a column for the visual. It's extremely important to maintain this record and keep checking it, so that you know that you are not being repetitive. The daily nature of the medium makes memory an unreliable guide. You have done so much each month, you will forget what you did last month. 

Initially, do this planning for one week. As you get better organised, start doing it for a month at a stretch.

2) Create post and image banks

If you think that Facebooking absorbs a lot of time, maintaining a page requires even more! You need to think through your posts, check grammar and facts (especially prices!) and most importantly, have great visuals.

So this is a continuation of the planning point I made earlier - plan visuals properly in advance. To continue the cake example, shoot your creations regularly. Build the time for this into your routine. As a strategy consultant and blogger, I mostly share interesting links that I know my clients would like to read. And I add my own perspective (which is sometimes at variance from the writer of the article). So I need to keep 1 hour of pure reading time and I use both Pocket and Evernote to save anything interesting I read, at a click, on any device. My point is that you may not need original content or creatives - but you should do your content creation in advance.

I am going to stick my neck out and say one thing. Even if you do not create original content, start doing it. Or at least start thinking about it. This applies more to people in consulting/ marketing/ media business. We are often diffident about our writing skills and as a rule we do not get the time or bandwidth to sit and write. But in the long run, people remember you for your original content. If you want to write posts, that's good. If you want to create a blog and post from there, it's even better. Remember that original content can be disseminated from a variety of platforms beyond Facebook including LinkedIn, Google + and Twitter. 

3) Be consistent and keep to a schedule

Entrepreneurs are busy people and often do everything themselves. In case you have a busy day, a breakfast meeting or a presentation deadline, the first thing that gets dropped from your job list will be the Facebook page. But consistency is key to sustaining your page. Decide a frequency - initially it can be as low as once a week, or as high as 1-2 times a day. This decision depends on how much time you are willing to invest. It also depends on your category. If you are in the garment business, then you are also in the fashion business, and you may have daily tips to share on global trends, make-up and fitness tips. But if you are in the tax consulting business, you may not need to post everyday. Laws do not change everyday. However, a tax consultant might want to increase the frequency of posting around the times tax returns get filed.

It's also important to know what time of day to post. Facebook insights will tell you at what time your fans are online. Keep posting time aligned broadly to this. In case you will be busy, you can use the scheduling feature on FB to schedule and line up multiple posts at a time. They will get automatically published at the time you specify.

In the next post, I will share some basic pointers on managing your page, monitoring results and course correction.