Using Facebook and Instagram like a superstar

One of the things I love about organising The Great Melbourne Blog-in is that I get to shape the event. At September’s blog in, I got to question Catherine and Cherie from The Digital Picnic about all things Facebook and Instagram during our Q&A panel. You know that glorious moment when you have all these questions simmering in the back of your mind and then suddenly you’re face-to-face with some very generous social media experts and you get to ask them all those questions? Yes, that moment. It was awesome!

The Digital Picnic social media experts and me
Social media experts Catherine and Cherie from The Digital Picnic. Oh, and that’s me in the middle.
Using Facebook and Instagram like a superstar
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Running a Facebook page

Best tips for running an engaging Facebook page #Facebook #FacebookPage #SocialMediaStrategy Click To Tweet

As most people are aware (except those that make this critical error) one of the biggest mistakes Facebook page owners make is using it as a dumping ground for self-promotion. Using Facebook page only as an advertising platform is not what gains you engaged fans and followers. You need to draw back the curtain and put yourself out there. Show some of the back end of your business. Make your page about your audience and what they want.

As a copywriter, this makes sense to me – know your audience, what are their pain points, how can you address them, sell the benefits and not the features yadda yadda yadda.

Since the blog-in, I’ve created a schedule for my Silk Interiors Facebook page. This page supports my eCommerce site Silk Interiors, where I sell wallpaper online. My plan includes a mix of:

  • design quotes
  • inspo photos/eye candy
  • recycled blog posts
  • decorating and styling tips
  • videos
  • FB live
  • before and after home makeovers
  • celebrity style
  • discounts and sales happening in Australia
  • memes
  • questions
  • our wallpaper products.

My next step is to use the native Facebook scheduling app to schedule content to post each day for a full month. Doing it in one big batch will save a lot of time, even though it will take some time to curate and schedule the content, but I’ve made a BIG list of sources (I’ll blog about how I find them another day), which will be a great help. I’ll monitor the engagement metrics via Facebook’s ‘Insights‘ dashboard and see which post types perform well and I’ll experiment with different times of the day.

Whatever you plan, test, test, test and figure out what works best for your business.

If you have any plans, even a very vague and distant plan to use Facebook Ads, install the Facebook pixel into the header of any or all pages on your website you wish to track. This means setting up a Facebook business account and grabbing some code to paste into your website (very easy to do with a plugin if you’re using WordPress). The FB pixel is a sneaky little thing. It gives you the data to show your ads only to people who have visited your website in the past, for example. It helps you target people already interested in your business. You can also create ads to target users in the same demographic as your website visitors. Ooooh. Sneaky sneaky. And perhaps a bit creepy…

Have you installed the Facebook Pixel yet? #SocialMediaStrategy #FacebookPage Click To Tweet

Facebook. Knows. Everything… my business bestie and I were chatting on Facebook Messenger about awnings (totes random, I know) and then we both started seeing ads for awnings in our newsfeed. We hadn’t visited any awning or blind sites or visited awning pages. In fact, in our Messenger chat, we were coming up with the most random thing we could think of in that conversation. And then there were ads for awnings. Just saying.

What I learnt about Facebook Live videos

Pre-promote your Facebook Live session so you won’t chicken out. If you’re running a Facebook Live Q&A session, give people a chance to prepare their questions that you (hopefully) can answer. As a Facebook Live novice, I’m not sure what’s worse though – people turning up or people not turning up!

Pre-plan what you’re going to say. Always have something to talk about. Talk about something before you get into the guts of your video to give people a chance to join you, live. If they’re following you, they’ll get a notification to say that you’re live.

Avoid the wobbles and use a tripod for your Facebook Live videos #FacebookLive #FacebookTips Click To Tweet

It’s best to set-up your video on a tripod so your video is steady. A steady camera can also save you a lot of data – those micro wobbles when you hold your phone camera create a fatter video file. Not that I have to worry about data here in Korea, but a tripod will give your FB video a more professional look. I tend to swing my body from side to side while my head remains stable-ish when I do Facebook Live videos. I don’t know why. Perhaps that’s where my nerves manifest. Or I’m just a weirdo.

After you finish your Facebook live video, you can upload it and then change the video thumbnail. For laughs, Youtube and Facebook are in some kind of conspiracy to make sure they choose a thumbnail where you look your absolute worst.

Facebook Video - See what I mean? Worst thumbnail choice ever
See what I mean? Worst thumbnail choice ever! Excruciating for me… and the potential viewer. I look so bored with my own FB Live vid I’m falling asleep on myself.

But it’s easy to change it.

On the video post, click on those three dots on the top right… then click on ‘Edit post’.

Facebook Video - Editing the post

Next, scroll through the available thumbnails and hopefully, there’s one that looks like you haven’t just eaten a sour lemon or are about to pass out. But if that fails, add your own custom image.

Facebook Video - Change the thumbnail

While you’re on that screen, you can add metadata to your post to help it get found more easily in Facebook’s search engine.

After you’ve uploaded your Facebook live video, go through the comments and respond to any questions people have. This will give your post a bit of a boost. The more comments (including your own) the more reach your video will get.

If you’re happy with the video, you could also consider using it in a Facebook Ad.

What I learnt about (non-live) videos on Facebook

If you’re going to add your video to Youtube, don’t share a link to the Youtube video with your Facebook audience. Instead, for better reach, upload the video directly to Facebook. Apparently, Facebook loves native video content. Of course, this makes sense. Facebook wants to retain as much ad revenue as possible. Keeping users ON Facebook and not sending them away to the Adsense share of the market is the sensible thing to do if you’re Facebook.

For greater reach, upload your video direct to Facebook, not via a Youtube link #FacebookTips Click To Tweet

Also, consider using a square format for your video as this is becoming really popular – people are used to and expecting the Instagram size and style of videos.

Don’t share everything between Instagram and Facebook or your audience, if they follow you on both platforms, will start to look like me in that thumbnail picture above. Yawn. I think it’s lazy social media-ing when businesses do that. Especially when you’re confronted with a face full of Insta hashtags on Facebook. I’m petty like that. Mix it up and share your video on Instagram a different day (or at least a different time of the day) then when you published your Facebook post.

I need to start a Facebook group and so do you

At a past TGMBI event, Linda Reed-Enever talked about building a Facebook Group to support your business or blog. I won’t rehash those bits, but it’s a timely reminder that if you share your Facebook page’s post to your Facebook group, it sends powerful signals to Facebook’s algorithms and can help increase the reach of your post even beyond the group.

I’m still considering what my FB Group will be about, how it fits with my brand and vision for my business and who I want in it besides my business besties. But first I need to schedule content, experiment and evaluate my Facebook plan.

Stay out of the naughty corner

Something else I learnt just this week is that Facebook has legislated yet another reason to put your page in the naughty corner – not disclosing sponsored or affiliate links. Facebook calls it ‘Branded Content’.

If you’re doing sponsored posts or publishing, as Facie puts it, content that features or is influenced by a business partner for an exchange of value, you need to tag the business partners in your branded content posts. But it’s not that simple. So you can do this, first you have to sign up for Branded Content within the Business Manager section of FB and be approved. If you’re publishing branded content (by Facebook’s definition) and not disclosing your relationship with the company, then you could find yourself in the FB naughty corner. This has happened to someone I know I know in a Facebook group just this week.

You can identify Branded Content posts because they have the small text ‘Paid’ whacked next to the time stamp of a post. This is different to posts you pay to boost where it says ‘Sponsored’. Other than that, I’m not sure what it all means, yet! You can read more about Facebook’s Branded Content tool and laws here.

What I learnt about Instagram

LinkTrees! AKA where had you been all my life/why didn’t I think of that.

Solve the 'link in bio' dilemma with a LinkTree @Linktree_ #instagramtips #linktree Click To Tweet

You know how you have to write something like Link in bio on your Instagram post and then update every single time you promote a new page or post or product? So annoying. Well, enter the Link Tree. You put one link in your bio that goes to a landing page where you include ALL your links. There’s even a website you can outsource your link management to – (I wrote more about this tip in my recent post What to do after you publish a blog post.) You could also host a link tree page on your own website.

Instagram Stories – you need to be there and in the regular ole newsfeed. Your ‘story’ only lasts for 24 hours, but now that Instagram is no longer chronological, it’s your best bet for getting noticed at the top of someone’s Insta feed.

Look at your insights. What are the peak times and WHY are they the peak times? Look into the reasons why certain posts are popular than others.

If you haven’t already set yourself up with a business profile, it’s easy to switch from a personal to a business profile – here’s how. You’ll need a business profile to access your account’s insights.

Until recently, I’d only been using the image tools like Filters in Instagram on my pictures. Then I discovered an app called Fotor. The basic version is free. You can use the app or the desktop website to manipulate your images to make them look gorgeouser. I must admit, I’m a bit visually illiterate, but with Fotor, I’ve been having fun experimenting with image manipulation.

Get your images Instagram ready with the Fotor app @fotor_com #instagramtips #photoediting Click To Tweet

To illustrate my point, here the original photo I took.

Original image for Fotor

And here’s the edited version. How much cooler and more interesting does this second image look?

Example of Fotor edited image

Final words on social media-ing

Ultimately, when it comes to sharing content, be endearing to your audience. Maybe even a bit vulnerable. Be relatable. Suprise and delight your audience.

Thank you, Cat and Cherie, for sharing your time and knowledge.  If anyone wants to improve their social media skills, then you need to attend one of their online or in-person social media courses – and not just in Melbourne. These savvy social media experts travel!

Have you experimented with anything on social media lately? Any success or spectactular fails to share? Let me know in the comments below.

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