Facebook wants companies to pay up.
In the past few years, major social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have started pushing businesses toward promoted posts, paid advertisements, and sponsored accounts. Yet companies have continued to rely mostly on organic reach.
Facebook is aware of this trend and has made some controversial changes that will eventually reduce the organic reach of business pages to as few as 2 percent of followers. In October 2013, organic reach of content was about 49 percent, but these changes have hit content hard, with organic reach dipping as low as 6 percent.
This raises an important question for insurance agencies: Is Facebook still a relevant tool for word-of-mouth customer engagement and marketing?
Why Facebook Is Still Relevant
While emphasis on the paid model has the potential to diminish organic reach for businesses, one study found that Facebook fans were 27 percent more likely than a control group to make a purchase in the four weeks following a paid campaign. This shows that Facebook is still worthwhile for:
- Building a community. Companies still have the ability to build a community of fans online, maintain contact with those fans and stay relevant.
- Engaging with fans. Although it’s more difficult now, you can still use your business page to engage with fans and followers – you’ll just have to work a bit harder at it.
- Sharing content. Businesses and marketers are always working to earn fans’ interest; that won’t change, no matter what Facebook does. You can still engage your fans via “likes,” shares, and comments. Someone who is a fan of your brand is going to be a fan, whether you paid for that engagement or not.
- Generating conversations. If your content is interesting enough, people will engage with you. A friend’s endorsement generates a 55 percent higher ad recall than non-social ads. In other words, your customers’ friends’ feelings about your brand means more than a sponsored ad in their news feed.
Why People Still Use Facebook
If you’re still not sure that Facebook is a worthwhile investment for your agency, consider the specific reasons users return to Facebook time and time again.
Customer service: Users go to Facebook to ask companies questions, express their satisfaction, write reviews and complain about poor experiences. Your potential customers are likely using Facebook to gauge the quality of your agency’s customer service, and your responses to comments, questions, and reviews can help develop your agency’s reputation as a helpful, caring company.
Contact information: People use Facebook (especially Facebook Mobile) to find contact information for local businesses. This works well for the local insurance industry. You can tell your customers where you’re located and whether you’re open, all in one convenient location.
Solutions: When interacting with the insurance industry, people are often looking to solve a problem. Many users turn to their Facebook friends for opinions on places to eat, shops to see or even which doctor to visit. Use the opportunity to share what you know and stay top of mind where they’re looking for help.
What Still Works on Facebook
One of the biggest challenges for businesses is knowing what to share to engage with their fans. Remember, 93 percent of the most engaging posts on Facebook are photos. Text-only posts rarely gain enough traction to get a share, so your agency needs to focus its efforts on promoting its posts visually.
For the insurance industry, these types of posts fare well:
- Fun facts;
- Insurance-specific advice related to current events.
Your fans are coming to you as a source of reputable information, so you need to do your best to share engaging, expert content that commands attention.
What to Consider When Segmenting Your Audience
One way to get more fans engaged with your posts is to segment your audience and push out the content that different groups will find most useful.
Facebook’s insights are available to administrators of all pages. You just have to export the file to see the entire lifetime of data, segment it and make changes based on the needs of your fan base.
Consider these four Facebook insights when determining your agency’s social media editorial calendar:
- When did a user become a fan of your page?
- How often do you gain new fans? What trends can you predict?
- What content are fans “liking,” sharing, and commenting on?
- How can your fans’ demographics help you predict the information they might want to see (e.g., age, interests, etc.)?
Remember the Big Picture
Although there’s a lot you can do with Facebook to interact with your customers, remember that it’s just part of your agency’s marketing strategy.
No business is going to succeed by focusing solely on Facebook. You need to blend other social media channels, public relations, a helpful agency website and useful blog content into your inbound marketing efforts.
If you use Facebook for agency marketing, use it for customer service. It’s essential that companies respond to every single question, comment or concern from fans to show that they truly care about their customers.