Facebook For Business (And Libraries Too)

Through a Facebook friend, I found out that Facebook was going to be in our local area, giving a free presentation on how small businesses (and non-profits) can use their advertising. Various locations had been announced through their “Facebook for Business” page at https://www.facebook.com/marketing . This is not a page that I had “liked” but my friend did, and after seeing their announcement she passed it along to me.

The event was held at The Columns banquet center in Elma. It was very well-attended – I’m guessing that there were probably 200 people there. Congressman Chris Collins gave some opening remarks, having arranged for this workshop along with the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce. Then we got to the presentation itself, given by Jeremy Lynch of Facebook’s Community Engagement team.

As for the content of the presentation, it was of course heavily geared toward paid advertising. This is where Facebook makes their money, and it’s most likely why the workshop itself was free. While many businesses are likely to be able to afford this, simply including Facebook within an existing advertising budget, it’s probably not an option for many libraries. Still, some of the tips they gave were more general and didn’t involve paying for advertising. This is what I’ll be focusing on in this blog post.

Jeremy encouraged the audience to think of Facebook as an online storefront, where people aren’t just viewing you, they are reaching out and connecting with you. About 80% of people on Facebook in the U.S. are following at least one small business, so they are definitely willing to interact with entities other than their friends. One new feature for Facebook pages is the “Very Responsive” icon. This is for pages that have enabled the option allowing people to contact the page directly (in a private message rather than posting on the page). If your page responds to 90% of messages and has a median response time of 5 minutes, your page will have an icon indicating that you are “Very Responsive to Messages.” Maybe not a realistic goal for everyone, but if you share moderator responsibility with several people at your library, it could be possible.

There are 3 types of content for Facebook posts: text posts, photo posts, and video posts. Photos take up more screen real estate, attract more attention, and according to their records, leads to higher engagement with fans (more likes, comments, and shares). So keep posting photos and pictures in your page timeline – it should work better than plain text. Video posts also attract more attention. While many people post videos by uploading them to YouTube and posting the link on Facebook, Jeremy spoke of the benefits of uploading the video itself directly to Facebook. These videos will start automatically playing in people’s news feed (although without sound) so they attract even more attention. Plus, you have access to “Video Insights” which can provide you statistics on how many people watched the video, and how long they watched it for.

Jeremy also spoke of the importance of creating good content. Suggestions included posting a story about an interesting experience that an employee had while on the job; reposting (with permission) content, stories and comments from your regular users/customers; and writing about an unusual item or product you have – something that sets you apart in your industry. Thinking of this in library terms, I thought of these possibilities that we can write about as librarians:

  • A story from a librarian about an unusual fact or piece of information they found while helping a patron, or maybe the process they went through to find the information.
  • Sharing comments that patrons have made to the library, whether on Facebook or in-person (with permission).
  • Sharing content created by your patrons (with permission). If your library has cooperated with area schools, maybe share some of the student projects that resulted. Or if a patron has done/created something in support of your library, share that.
  • A unique item in your collection. Consider writing a post periodically about a unique item in your collection, such an autographed book, a rare first edition, or non-book items such as maps and photographs.

The main presentation was followed by a panel discussion of area businesspeople who have benefitted from Facebook advertising. It was here that some of the features of paid advertising were discussed further. For example, the company Social Yeah has used Facebook to promote the Buffalo Zombie Mud Run. One technique was to target their ads to people who listed that they like the TV show “The Walking Dead” in their profile – since if they like a zombie show, they might also like a zombie event. They also created ads targeted to people who had liked the pages of other local runs. In addition, the panelists had all made use of the audience targeting features, such as being able to limit your ads to a certain geographic area, and to people of certain demographics, in order to reach the people most likely to want your product or service.

I didn’t talk much about the specifics of advertising in this post, but if you want to look at the available options, check out www.facebook.com/ads/create . I left the workshop feeling that I had learned a lot, not just about paid advertising, but also strategies for producing good content, so I definitely feel it was beneficial.