[Q&A] How to Create Engaging Facebook Content (Without Going Crazy)
Nicole Arnold, founder of Little Cottage Services.

With some small businesses earning as much as $15,000 from Facebook, it’s clear that social media can be a great tool for growing an audience that leads to sales.

What’s not so clear, unfortunately, is how to do it. And how to do it consistently without losing your mind.

Every organization is different and every audience is different, but, really, the strategy is always the same: create engaging content and the fans will come.

I recently talked with Nicole Arnold, engagement marketer and founder of Little Cottage Services, on how small businesses and organizations can consistently create engaging content. Here’s a transcript of our discussion:

What does Little Cottage Services do to help clients?

Little Cottage helps clients with their email marketing campaigns, primarily using Constant Contact. I help them come up with engaging content for emails, Facebook, and blogs.

Mostly, I help them become memorable. That way, their customers remember who they are, and my clients become more than someone who just sells something.

In my previous career, I worked at an elementary school teaching social skills to kindergarteners. I think that professionals often forget that making friends and building relationships is the most important part of any business.  I help my clients to build those friendships online which makes them stand out from the rest of the crowd.

What obstacles do you find are most common among small businesses that are on Facebook?

I think they have the most trouble figuring out what to say, because their focus is sales. Every time I meet with people, I say that you don’t want to be the person who says “Hey, buy my stuff” every day.

A lot of businesses owners I work with, it’s just them. So I try to find out things that the business owner is interested in outside of their business.  Things that make them well rounded and give a personality to them and their business.  Together, we create a seven-day content calendar that focuses around their product/service and their identity.

We pick a different topic to post on each day.  This gives them a structure they can stick to.  Then they can come up with something that’s relevant to their business and to their customers.

I think coming up with an editorial or themed calendar for the week can be one of the most helpful things for small business owners.

For example, I work with a fitness club owner and part of the calendar that we put together for him included motivational posts on Monday.  These posts were designed to really help fans get to the gym and work out.

Another client of mine is a local pub that runs a Fan of the Week feature. Fans are picked based on involvement on the business page.  The top weekly fan gets invited for a free drink from the owner. As you can probably imagine, customers have gotten really excited about the Fan of the Week.

What do you do to promote a client’s Facebook Page?

First, I meet with my client and get a clear picture of their goals, so we can set some milestones. We want to be able to gauge success, and the direction we are heading.

We also think about things that a client would actually talk about.  Then we decide how we are going to get traffic to the fan page.

I would say that 75% of traffic to a Facebook Page is from outside referrals. For people to get to your Page, you should be using email campaigns to drive traffic, you know, send out an email to let people know what you’re doing on Facebook.

You should consider adding rewards for “Liking” Pages. Even with Timeline, there are ways to encourage Liking, particularly with Social Campaigns. We also implement Facebook share buttons on the business website.  We try to give people lots of opportunities to get to the fanpage so that they can Like it.

What strategies do you find are the most successful?

I think the editorial calendar is most successful, because it makes things a lot less overwhelming.

That gives people a baseline: pick one day to talk about the product, then pick other days to talk about your personality, things that your customers are interested in, and don’t forget to continually engage fans with rewards and recognition.

How can people continually come up with content to post to a Page?

My default answer is fan love. Let your fans know how much you appreciate them and their involvement in your brand. Or you can simply comment on the weather or how you’re feeling. Anything that’s not about your product is usually the right answer.

As a business owner, you have to remember that nobody else loves your product as much as you do. I could go on and on about my product, but eventually people will stop listening.  When that happens, the opportunity build those relationships starts to disappear.

How often should businesses post – and should there be a breakdown between sales, information, news, etc.

People aren’t on Facebook to hear about your products, they’re really there to be entertained. I would say 5-10% of posts should be sales-related.

I recommend doing posts once a day and having an ideal time to post. I like to say two in the afternoon and seven in the evening are perfect times, since people love to check Facebook after lunch and dinner.

That’s also important when it comes to Simple Sharing a newsletter, since you want to time that share when people are on Facebook.

Say that a business is just starting off with social media. How would you recommend spreading the word about a Facebook Page?

I would send out an email and set a goal. If you only have a couple Likes, I would ask for Likes. Just say that ‘Hey, we have a Facebook Page now, Like Us!’”

I would definitely use Social Campaigns, so when people get to the Page, they can be rewarded for Liking the Page. That’s a great way to say thanks for taking the extra time to Like the page, whether you give them a coupon, an industry paper, whatever… people like to be rewarded.

What if someone is stuck in a rut – they have 40 fans who are mostly friends, family, and existing customers. What’s the next step?

I would say that you want to ask your existing fans to share. “Hey, we have 40 fans, let’s see if we can get up to 50!”

Have your community support and build your Page. Running contests like, “Hey, once we get to 300 Likes, we’re going to do promotion X for all of our fans.”

It all ties back to that idea of fan love.

How can a business combine email marketing with a social media presence?

Definitely use Simple Share and make sure that when you’re setting up an email marketing campaign, set up the Facebook and Twitter buttons.

Put the social bar at the top of your email, too, so people can share it on their own Facebook Pages. Incorporate as many social features as you can in your email.

But, most importantly, try to add variety to every channel. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and email, should all communicate different messages, so people are encouraged to engage with you through all channels.

How do you plan content for your social media sites? Let us know below!

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