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22nd January 2013, by Matt Ramella

How to Improve Your Facebook Marketing Efforts in 2013

Do you remember where your brand stood on Facebook a year ago? Did 2012 bring you the success that you had set out to achieve?

With a new year comes new potential. I’m sure you’ll agree that many brands are not getting the most out of their social marketing efforts on Facebook. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. To be comfortable with the status quo.

With 2013 upon us, now’s the time to reset. To quit what’s not working, to try new approaches, and to put focus on what matters most.

Here are 7 new year’s resolutions (a framework for success) to help Facebook marketing work harder for you in 2013.

1. Create a social strategy that’s rooted in your brand objectives.
This seems obvious, but it’s easy to get distracted when your strategy collides with the reality of getting the next tactical Facebook post out the door. Don’t lose site of the end goal.

For example: If your overall challenge is to grow brand consideration among competitive users, rethink why you’ve created a content strategy that speaks to existing brand loyalists. Instead, wouldn’t it make more sense to focus on creating sponsored content and offers designed to reach and convert competitive users?

2. Set and track 3 social KPIs for 2013.
Don’t let another year go by without putting goals down on paper. Align them to your marketing objectives. And make sure that methodology and definitions are standardized. There’s nothing worse than having confusion around how a metric is tracked and where it’s sourced from… we’ve all been there.

Be disciplined. It’s not about picking a number out of the air. Analyze data to help forecast KPI values. Then stretch them — be tough, but fair.

Share the targets with others (internally and externally) so they can help you achieve them. This goes both ways; roll-up and cascade down. The more people you have working toward a common goal, the greater the chance of success.

Finally, tie KPI success to some form of variable compensation (there is no greater motivator than a year-end bonus).

3. Build a successful plan that actually delivers against the strategy and KPIs.
Put every single idea through this lens. Be ruthless. Think bigger than you did last year. And stop spending valuable time & resources on executing random tactics that are off-strategy.

Renovate. Innovate. But don’t replicate last year’s plan.

4. Be ‘always-on.’ Do it more effectively, at scale.
It’s not about executing your 2013 social plan in three 4-week campaigns. Or churning out 5 lacklustre Facebook posts on your brand Page each week. Facebook, as a social medium, has so much more potential than broadcasting hastily photoshopped images to 16% of your fans, or running another ‘tab’ contest.

In 2013, don’t leave reach & frequency behind at the expense of focusing solely on engagement. Use paid media to more effectively scale social programs across larger audience segments (non-fans). Use paid to fuel owned & earned. Integrate with broader online & offline activity at every opportunity you get.

Most importantly, ask yourself: Is the money invested in Facebook production (content, apps, etc.) generating a desirable return (targeted reach, earned media value, conversions, etc.)?

5. Check progress.
Automate the tracking of KPI performance on a routine basis (weekly or monthly is best). If you’re a marketer, either do this in-house and/or outsource to a 3rd party measurement partner that is independent from your content agency. Why? To eliminate bias and hold the agency accountable. You don’t have your creative agency measure the effectiveness of your TV ads, do you?

6. Act on what you find.
Don’t just track metrics for the sake of a report. Establish an action plan to close any performance gaps. Learn what’s working (and why), then put more gas on it. Establish and share best practices with a wider team to help everyone improve.

The nature of social is real-time. Build flexibility into your plan and budgets to act on new opportunities throughout the year. Continually adjust parts of the plan on-the-fly if they’re not working. Get out of the locked-in TV flight mindset.

7. Be daring.
Pilot new content ideas and paid media opportunities. Allocate 20% of your budget to testing & learning. Get a commitment that it cannot be cut. Measure to understand what is successful and what is not. Accept that some of what you do will fail. But also prepare to quickly roll-out the winners so you can impact your brand at scale.

Think about how you can sync Facebook fan data with the brand’s CRM/email database to drive more value out of your marketing activity. Don’t be afraid of taking baby steps. Learning how to capture and make use of basic data is better than doing nothing at all.

And when piloting new initiatives in 2013, always think mobile first. Without understanding how to capitalize on the social-mobile news feed, your brand’s Facebook plan may be dead in the water by the end of the year.

You’re probably doing some of these steps already, but I suspect there’s at least one resolution that can be added to your arsenal. Commit to taking one, some, or all of them on by the end of next week. The time for procrastination is over. Get your Facebook house in order for the year ahead.

This article also appeared on SocialStraightUp.

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