Social media constantly grows and evolves to keep users engaged. And given how quickly those changes happen, keeping up with the most current trends and newest tools can be a time-consuming effort—but one that’s well worth it.
As a social media manager, my job demands that I know the ins and outs of various digital platforms. With an ever-changing platform, it's important to stay aware of the tools available to you. These five are sure to offer the most benefits to your business.
1. Facebook Business
Of all the social media platforms around today, Facebook is the one most of us are on, both as individuals and as an industry—which is no surprise, since the site boasts more than 2 billion monthly active users. Our personal pages are easy to manage: We post pictures, respond to comments, share memes, and update our statuses.
Managing a business Facebook page, however, requires someone experienced to avoid the most common pitfalls, like:
• Incoherent messaging because there are too many “voices” managing the account
• Generic branding and messaging because the account is run by a firm that doesn’t understand the luxury ground transportation industry
• Inadequate attention paid to the account because an already-swamped team member is assigned to post to Facebook without any training
If your message is not targeted, it will not resonate with your audience. You will be doing your company a great disservice if you do not invest in either training your long-term staff or hiring a social media specialist who is familiar with the ins and outs of our industry.
As a business owner, you can outsource most Facebook tasks, but be sure that you always retain admin access to any social media platforms and ad accounts. This will enable you to provide access to your new social media employee or consultant, while retaining the ability to remove access if your employee leaves the company.
2. Watch Party
Watch Party is a newer Facebook feature that allows groups to stream a playlist of videos and talk about them in a chat box. Here's an overview, according to FB's newsroom post:
“We know that people have a range of video offerings available to them, but Watch is more than just a library of videos—it’s a place where people can follow video creators they care about, start conversations about videos with friends, and build communities of fans who share their interests. Watching videos has always been a social experience, but as people increasingly watch video online, it has become more solitary. With Facebook Watch, we set out to demonstrate what it looks like to build deep bonds through watching online video, instead of just having a passive viewing experience.”
Watch Party provides threaded comments so people can have conversations and comment in real time while a video plays. Hosts also have the ability to go live and add their own comments, and users can even schedule a Watch Party ahead of time. The goal is to create experiences that will bring people closer together and inspire human connection instead of passive consumption.
There are many ways to use Watch Party to boost your online visibility and presence while adding value to your digital brand: You can host Q&As, provide training workshops, discuss topics that matter to our industry, demonstrate your product or service, and connect with your clients. What could this mean for your associations? How could this help fight ordinances? How can this help build relationships with your clients?
The only downside to Watch Parties is that you can’t host one with live videos. The videos selected need to be uploaded onto Facebook and publicly available.
3. Live Videos
Video content continues to be an important element of social media, and Facebook Live gives you the chance to post real-time videos, which offer more engagement than uploaded videos. Most of us are a little nervous about both the “live” and the “video” parts of this service, so here are some tips to maximize your live videos’ impact:
• You don’t have to be perfect! Part of the appeal of live videos is they are off the cuff: It’s more endearing and genuine when you get to see people on camera just being themselves.
• Tell fans ahead of time when you plan to broadcast a live video. Let them know in a post or a newsletter when and why you will be hosting a live video so they can make time to tune in.
• Don’t go live unless you have a strong internet connection!
• Get your viewers’ attention: Write a catchy description, ask them to subscribe by clicking the Follow button, and interact with them during the video. Try to mention them by name or respond to their comments and questions when you can.
• Live videos should be 5-10 minutes long at a minimum and can run up to four hours. The longer they are, the more chances you have for people to watch you live and share the video in real time.
• Don’t end the video abruptly—wrap things up with a thank you to your viewers. Wait until you hear the “ping” at the end to be sure the video has concluded.
Use Facebook Live to discuss hot topics, discuss important laws coming down the pipeline, personally address common questions, show off your business from behind the scenes, demo a product, or even invite your audience to know you on a deeper personal level.
4. Internal Facebook Groups
Groups are one of the most underutilized features on Facebook. Every time I begin to work with a new client, I set up an internal Facebook group for them, name it “XYZ Company Internal Group,” and set it to “Closed” rather than “Secret” or “Public.” Customize the group link URL and update the photo to something unlike your business page to avoid accidental posts. Invite staff members—everyone from office staff and chauffeurs to management—to join the group and write a description with instructions about what should be posted.
You can use your group to host challenges, praise your staff, and post photos, videos, links, and announcements, as well as have important discussions. The group becomes a great resource for organic content for your business page, and it engages your staff in your company’s success.
Business owners who embrace the internal group idea and encourage their staff members to follow their lead have the most success in social media. They have far more internal content than companies that do not use this strategy. Part of the power of social media is lifting the veil to allow your clients and affiliates to know your company personally. Posting nothing but curated, outside content does not differentiate you from your competitors. When presented with the opportunity, consumers will do business with companies that they know and like over a company they know nothing about.
5. Facebook Payments
For four years, Facebook has given people the ability to buy from and pay each other right on the Facebook platform. Transactions and payment information are encrypted, and Facebook says, “These payment systems are kept in a secured environment that is separate from other parts of the Facebook network and that receive additional monitoring and control” from an anti-fraud team. Like using Messenger and opening a Business page, you can use Facebook Payments even if you don’t have a personal Facebook account.
"These payment systems are kept in a secured environment that is separate from other parts of the Facebook network and that receive additional monitoring and control from an anti-fraud team."You can add a credit card, debit card, or link to your PayPal account. In the Settings tab, you can also update your shipping address (which is especially helpful if you are a frequent user of Facebook Marketplace), update your legal name, and select the type of currency you primarily use. There is also a tab that tracks all incoming and outgoing payments that notes the date, Facebook profile of the person you’re sending money to or receiving money from, the status of the transaction, and the dollar amounts separated into Paid and Received columns. Your history is stored indefinitely, so you can easily reference it when updating your external records.
There are no fees to use this service for either the sender or recipient, and in my experience, money usually shows up in your account immediately. While business pages can’t use it—Facebook supports personal transactions between family and friends only—this feature is ideal for small operators or for business owners who are connected to their affiliates or clients on Facebook.
Tips to protect your data:
Password: After your first successful transaction, you’ll see a prompt asking if you’d like to use your password for future transactions. You should opt in.
Scammers and hackers: If a friend randomly requests money without prior discussion, this is a red flag that their Messenger account might have been compromised. Make sure you’re communicating with the right person by calling or video-chatting with them before you send funds.
Personal details: Never share your personal information through Messenger, texts, or email with people you don’t know. When you want to exchange personal information with a trusted friend, give them a call.
I hope you feel inspired to use some of Facebook’s amazing tools! [CD0319]
Aleja Seabron is the social media manager for the LMC Group. She can be reached at email@example.com.