Don’t do a Facebook page without a plan

Providing SMEs with the content for a new or updated website, I’m often asked to help with setting up a new business Facebook page. After years of asking it, I still find that ‘What do you want it for?’ is an effective first question to ask.

My experience is that the answer reveals pretty quickly whether the company has any real business goals for it to achieve, or whether it’s simply responding to that peer and industry pressure – ‘our competitors have a Facebook page, so we need one too…’

Either way, my follow-up question is more often than not along the lines of, ‘Are you prepared to be ‘social’ then?’ I ask this since a business Facebook page needs real time and a consistent effort devoting to it, and for many SMEs (like me) resources simply aren’t infinite.

While it’s easy to view a Facebook page as just another communications channel, its role, like any other social media, is above all to engage with ‘fans’. It’s a dynamic 2-way comms channel, not a 1-way ‘fire and forget’.

To succeed, some kind of content plan is needed along with a cultural shift towards being more ‘open’ and social. My recommendation to clients therefore is that before embarking on a Facebook page they seriously consider at least the following four points:

Objectives

Why do it in the first place? Is it to build customer relationships? Boost product sales? Enhance brand image? Increase traffic to website? Help position you as an industry leader? Be sure you have real reasons.

Personality

Whether it’s a personal page or a business page, your Facebook page (by its very naming) projects a personality, a voice, a public face. Be sure you know what that really is, and how it fits with your overall business brand identity – your Facebook page needs to make it human.

Being ‘social’

Facebook is a social network. Above all it’s about being engaging with your fans – consistently. If you’ve not got the time to post regularly, to respond promptly and empathetically to comments (good or bad), if you’re only going to use it to ‘sell’ stuff, and don’t want to enter into conversations, then don’t do it.

Content calendar

With the aim of achieving those objectives… plan out in advance a ‘calendar’ or schedule of the different types of posts you’re going to make, the variety of topics you’re going to cover, the photos and videos you’ll regularly need to help achieve the objectives.

Your content needs to grab attention in a customer’s facebook news feed. It needs to be shareable. To coin an overused phrase, ‘content is king’, without it you can’t really do Facebook effectively.

So in short, it’s not enough just to know your business and who your intended audience is. If after reading the above, you realise that you haven’t got the answers to why? what? when? and how? then maybe it’s safer not to launch your Facebook page just yet.