With more than 1 billion users, Facebook has become a critical component in the marketing mix. Excelling at Facebook Marketing provides your business with a potent competitive edge.
To that end, ShortStack is a software platform that enables you to customize your Facebook Page with contests, sweepstakes, videos, custom forms, and more. The platform currently serves more than 160K users and more than 500 million fans.
StartupNation had the pleasure of interviewing ShortStack’s CEO, Jim Belosic, for his insights into effective Facebook Marketing.
Jim conceived of a software platform that would allow thousands of users to create Facebook Pages for their businesses without needing to hire an agency. Jim is recognized as a social media expert and regularly contributes to Mashable, Social Media Examiner, CMS Wire, PR Daily and SmartBrief. In 2012, Jim was named Technology Entrepreneur of the Year by the Nevada Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, honored as a top 20 business leader under age 40 in Reno, Nevada and named one of the city’s 100 most influential business leaders.
Read on for Jim’s guidance in taking your Facebook Marketing to the next level, and making it totally ROCK!
Tell us a bit about ShortStack.
Belosic: ShortStack is a self-service custom app design tool used to create apps for Facebook Pages, websites and mobile web browsing. ShortStack provides tools for small businesses, graphic designers, agencies and corporations to create apps with contests and forms, fan gates, product lines and more.
ShortStack started out as an internal tool to ease some of the workload of my in-house designers who were getting requests for custom Facebook apps. After a while we realized the potential it had and decided we wanted to release it to the public. Some of ShortStack’s main features include contests and sweepstakes, newsletter signup forms and integrations with Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, RSS and more.
What are some really cool ways to engage with one’s Facebook fans, going beyond the "Engagement 101" types of things such as asking questions and responding to comments?
Belosic: I have a few tips for this:
- Post pictures (and video!). We see our best engagement when we include some type of media in our posts. Our fans especially love humorous photos and memes. We also get a great response when we post tips and infographics. Follow the 70/20/10 Rule. Seventy percent of your Page’s content shared should be information that is valuable and relevant to your Facebook fans. Twenty percent of your posts should be shared content, i.e. content that comes from other people. The final 10 percent is Facebook posts that are promotional: sale announcements, new product alerts, events, etc.
- If you ask for feedback -- and I believe that you definitely should -- IMPLEMENT it! Your fans will engage more if you show them that you are really listening.
- Be Transparent. I get asked all the time about how ShortStack was created, the success we’ve had and how we’ve gotten to where we are today. By being transparent, you position yourself as an expert in your industry and build trust among consumers. When it comes time for someone to have the need for your product or service they are going to think of you first.
For example, a dentist might offer her patients a few do-it-yourself tips they can use to whiten their teeth. By sharing her expertise she won’t put herself out of work. She will make her patients and potential patients grateful. And when it comes time for them to pay for dental care, they will think of her first.
- Ask your fans for permission to feature them in posts/articles. Customer spotlights or "client of the month" articles or blog posts are great because they add some "social proof" to your engagement.
What are a few keys to conducting a successful contest on Facebook?
Belosic: I recently wrote an article for Social Media Examiner about running successful Facebook contests. It includes nine tips that I recommend to anyone who wants to run a contest. Here’s a quick look at a few of them:
- Set goals. Are you just going for likes? Going for data? Going for feedback? Your contest should be structured to meet these goals.
- Incorporate features to help you hit those goals. Like-gating, forms and share prompt, are just a few of the features ShortStack offers to help businesses reach their goals with their contests.
- Promote it! Often times we hear business owners say their contests weren’t successful, but when we look at their efforts we notice they didn’t go beyond building a contest and installing it on their Page. Once a contest is installed, it’s essential to promote it using tools like Facebook ads, status updates and email blasts to get the word out. You can also ask your fans to promote the contest for you. Everyone appreciates a chance to win something cool!
- Don’t just hit it and quit it -- when the contest ends, compile the data. You ran the promotion so you could gather information about your customers, so spend some time making sense of what you’ve learned. You can also look at your engagement numbers and see if posts about your promotion received better engagement than other posts. Also look at when you launched the contest and which days your app saw the most interaction. For ShortStack, we’ve found the best day to launch a contest is on a Tuesday or Wednesday, and we get a majority of our entries during the weekdays. See what could be improved and do it all over again.
More than half of FB users access their accounts on their mobile devices. How should a marketer customize their FB campaigns to accommodate the mobile experience?
Belosic: Sorry, I’m a sucker for bullet points:
- Design with mobile in mind FIRST. Once you’ve designed the app and are confident it works on mobile, see how it works on a desktop and adjust from there. If an app works on mobile, there is a 99 percent chance it will work on a desktop, too. The reverse is not true!
- Keep it simple. Only ask for the minimum information you need. Don’t ask your fans to fill in 10 fields or write an essay. In many situations requiring that fans Like the Page and then have to enter an email address is all you really need.
- Worry about function, not design. Large images and fancy features can slow load speeds, so focus on the architecture.
What are the biggest mistakes you’ve seen companies make on FB?
Belosic: One bad practice we see all the time is shouting: "50% OFF! Buy Now! Sale! Like this Page! Tell your Friends!!" I might actually do all of those things once you’ve earned my trust, but don’t ask me right out of the gate.
Bottom line: Don’t shout your CTAs. Facebook is a place for conversations, so write the way you would speak in person (unless you are a salesman).
What are the best FB marketing campaigns that you’ve ever come across?
Belosic: Last year a non-profit organization, Friendship Circle, ran a five-week long contest to give away bikes to children with special needs. During the five-week promotion, Friendship Circle grew from 21,700 Facebook fans to 66,000 fans and received 35,000 visits on their contest app in just one day! Their success came from giving away a good prize that people cared about and partnering with local bike stores and other organizations online to spread word of their contest. You can see the full case study along with several other successful campaigns on our website.
What’s your favorite kind of pancake?
Belosic (who, by the way, is a pancake-making ninja!!): The kind I don’t have to make. :) Actually, I think the Burger I made is my favorite.
If we’re talking about flavor, I like plain ol’ pancakes with a lot of butter!
What’s the craziest pancake you’ve ever made?
Belosic: This was a pain in the rear end! -- http://www.jimspancakes.com/2010/05/to-make-a-stack-of-pancakes-you-need-a-crane/