In my previous article on martial arts lead generation with social media, I discussed the reasons why you need to include social media in your overall marketing strategy.
In addition, I discussed how to best leverage social media to garner more attention (likes and shares) for your content on sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Today, I’m going to go a bit more in-depth on how to use Facebook (and to some extent, Twitter) to generate and capture leads for your martial art school.
Why Facebook For Lead Generation?
As of September 2012, Facebook has over one billion active users (Update: as of June 2014 it’s well over 1.3 BILLION monthly active users). The total world population is around seven billion people, which means that Facebook has reached an amazing
14 18+ percent total worldwide market penetration.
To put this in perspective, Google+ has “only” half that number (500 million), and only half that are active.
And, I doubt that even a quarter of those active users have even found any utility in using Google+ (although you should have a Google+ account, as well as a Google+ page for your business – more on this in a future post).
For some additional perspective, eCommerce giant Amazon.com “only” has about 250 million users, with over half of those in the U.S. and the rest residing in other international markets.
While these are still impressive numbers, it just goes to show that Facebook is indeed the social media powerhouse of the internet. Moreover, Facebook’s ad and promotion platforms allow for a level of ad segmenting and targeting that is often difficult to achieve on Google (more on that in a minute).
Drawbacks to Advertising and Marketing on Facebook
As far as marketing on Facebook is concerned, in my opinion there are no drawbacks other than the fact that it can be a time suck. Since it’s free (thus far) to create a business page on Facebook and free to post to your timeline, I can really see no disadvantage to leveraging this marketing opportunity. (Update: As of late 2013, you now have to pay to “sponsor” posts so your all of page fans see them – previously, this was free. However, I prefer running Facebook ads over promoting posts. More on this in a minute.)
Now, as advertising on Facebook goes, it can often be difficult to generate real and measurable results from paid advertising on Facebook. In truth, advertising on any social media platform is always a tricky bird to hunt, simply because of the fact that social media users act differently from search engine users and users of other media.
People are on Facebook to be social (i.e., to talk about themselves, and often to fake a wonderful life). Therefore, it’s often difficult to get Facebook users to click on a paid ad. We’ll discuss this more in a minute, but just be aware that your ad dollars spent on Facebook ads will often go right down the tubes unless you are darned clever with your ad.
Before We Begin… Is Your Goal Likes, Leads, Visibility, or Connection?
There are many specific reasons for marketing and advertising on Facebook, and none of them are mutually exclusive:
- Lead generation
- Connecting with customers and building community
- Promoting a website or other online content (i.e., a YouTube video)
- And finally, increasing your online visibility
Obviously, lead generation speaks for itself. To me it’s the primary reason for your business being on Facebook, but it’s definitely not the only reason. Creating a stronger sense of community among your clients is definitely a good reason to create a strong Facebook presence, as is simply increasing your online visibility.
Remember, while Facebook content itself is showing up less and less in Google search results, Big G has decided to put a premium on social media likes and links. What that means is that when your content gets liked, linked, and shared from popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, your content has a greater chance of showing up in the Google search results.
Again, Start With The End In Mind
Now, while there is definitely some overlap between these four outcomes, it definitely would be wise to choose a primary single outcome on which to focus your Facebook advertising and marketing efforts.
Without an end goal in mind, you’re likely to flounder about and you really have no way to measure your success. So, pick a goal and place a number on it so you have a definite metric to pursue, something like “generate 5 leads a week from Facebook” or “get 25 new likes a week for our fan page.”
Since the focus of this article is lead generation, I’m going to stick to explaining the best ways to use Facebook for that specific purpose. However, I still want you to keep those other potential goals in mind, as the marketing activity you do on Facebook can often serve to fulfill multiple purposes.
Generating Leads With Your Facey-Space Page
It’s really not that hard, but let’s break it down into individual steps for the sake of simplicity and clarity:
Step One – Get a Facebook account and set up your Facebook Page for your business.
- Your Facebook account and page are two different but connected animals. You need an account to create a page. Most people use their account for personal posts, and their business page for posts and updates that are exclusively related to their business. Beware, however; many of your business “fans” (people who like your business page) will want to connect with you and follow your personal posts. So, politically charged, sexually suggestive, vulgar, or religiously motivated updates you post do have the potential to turn off some of your customers. Even so, there’s something to be said for having a definite personality online. You’ll have to weigh the benefits of “being real” with the drawbacks of potentially losing clients, so I’ll leave this up to you. (Personally, I’d rather have 1,000 true fans than a million blank and uninterested faces following me. But, to each his own.)
Step Two – Get friends. Lots of friends.
- Without friends, you have no connections on Facebook. And, because your reach with
paid adspromoted posts is greatly dependent on the number of people who have “friended” you and liked your page, it’s important to build a good targeted friends list. Also, most of your business page likes will initially come from your friends list, so spend some time each and every day finding new connections on Facebook. I suggest first searching for your own clients and connecting with them on Facebook (again, beware the offensive update). Then, I suggest finding people who are local to you who might also be in your demographic (if you need me to explain this, you need to invest more time educating yourself on marketing). Once you’ve built a strong list of friends, you can then leverage that for your marketing efforts.
Step Three – Create meaningful connections.
- This is self-explanatory. As I said in the first part of this article, stop talking about yourself, and start talking about your clients. Like other people’s stuff. Post interesting and useful content (links, videos, articles, news). Comment. Be social. Engage. This is how you become more than some anonymous face in a long list of faces in the news feeds of your “friends.”
Step Four – Create interesting content.
- If you want to be seen as an influencer, you need to create your own content. Moreover, that content needs to be original and it needs to be of interest to people in your demographic. That means you need to go beyond simply regurgitating facts and reflecting common knowledge, and interject that which is “uniquely your own” to the conversation you’re creating (yes, fan boys, I just made a BL reference). Be original – that’s the best advice I can give you.
Step Five – Share, Invite, and perhaps Promote.
- Share your content, first by posting it to your page. Then, you can choose to promote it with Facebook’s paid promotion option (you may need to get a certain number of likes to your page before you can use this function there). Also, you can use Facebook messaging to invite people to your content either on or off Facebook (this can be an event page, an offer on your website, a video on YouTube; it’s really your show here).
- Be sure to Tweet your Facebook posts. Go to http://www.facebook.com/twitter/ to set this up so it happens automatically (once more, I urge you to beware the offensive status update).
Step Six – (somewhat optional) Advertise.
- As I said, paid ads are tricky on Facebook. But, you might experiment with a limited budget until you get a feel for how to best leverage the medium. Just be sure to geo-target your ad campaigns so you’re not spending money on advertising to people halfway across the continent. (Update June 2014: Facebook has improved their ad platform a lot since I first wrote this piece, and I now highly recommend that you run geo-targeted Facebook ad campaigns to send traffic to your lead capture pages on your website.)
Step Seven – Capture leads.
- There are two ways to capture leads using Facebook…
- Method number one is to use Facebook to drive traffic to an offer on your site (most often this will be your lead capture website home page). If you’ve already set up your lead capture website for your business, you’ll want to use Facebook to drive traffic to it by linking to interesting content on your site. Remember, talk about your students. For driving traffic, this means writing posts and creating video that highlights them, and then posting it to your school blog and then linking to it from Facebook. Just make sure you have a Godfather offer somewhere on every page you send traffic to from Facebook. Never, ever, ever waste traffic to your site – ALWAYS have an offer on any page you’re sending traffic to.
- Method number two is to set up an offer on your Facebook page. There are two ways to do this. You can either pay a subscription fee to an app provider and create apps that you embed into a tab on your Facebook page… Or you can hire a professional martial arts web marketing firm to custom code a lead capture page into your Facebook Business Page. If you’re relatively internet-savvy and can handle some basic html coding, the first option is probably for you. If not, hire someone who knows what they’re doing to handle it for you.
I hope it has become obvious to you by this point what a tremendous boon Facebook is to the small business owner. For one, it’s a free marketing channel. In addition, promoting your content on Facebook can help you increase your search engine exposure for that content.
And as a bonus, it also offers you a low-cost method of sending your marketing message to a tightly focused market segment, albeit one that often delivers mixed results.
If you’re still on the fence about utilizing Facebook, you should know that all the coaching clients I’ve worked with who have decided to use Facebook to promote their businesses have reported back to me with positive results. So, my advice to those of you who are still hesitant is that you just jump in with both feet for a few months. All the while, track your lead numbers to see how it affects your bottom line, and in a few weeks or so you’ll know whether the effort is worth it.
(Next week: How to avoid getting ripped off by a web marketing or SEO firm…)
Questions? Comments? Feedback?
I welcome your input and feedback, and encourage you to post your questions about Facebook lead generation below in the comments.