Facebook is the largest social network in the world. It is also the most popular Social Media Network in South Africa and an easy way to reach many new customers and people within the country. With Faceboook having such a significant reach it is crucila to know and understand the best methods to use to reach the correct people that will relate to your brand or product.

Facebook is big.

Facebook is the largest social network in the world. It has more than 500 million active users, half of whom log in on a daily basis. There are an estimated 5 Million South Africans registered on Facebook and this number is going at a rapid rate. Worldwide people share more than 30 billion pieces of content every month, including links, news stories, blog posts, photo albums and notes. This massive amount of content means that you need to find ways to stand out from the crowd and not become just another piece of the clutter. There are many ways to do this in a South African context and in this article we look to identify some of these options.

As great as Facebook is, it can be confusing and a real challenge generating tangible marketing results from Facebook.

Who exactly uses Facebook in South Africa?

Facebook has evolved from its original audience when it was launched and is no longer the place where school & university kids hang out. Facebook started out dominated by younger people but has grown to include almost all social demographics. Interestingly enough the largest amount of users falls between the age brack of 35 and 55 years old.

How Can You Reach More People In South Africa Using Facebook?

Facebook has three main tools that can be used by anyone and each come with their own pros and cons.

1. Pages

Facebook Pages are similar to profiles, but are used for businesses, organizations and public figures. Pages can be ‘liked’ by anyone, without a requirement for the page creator to accept a fan. Pages don’t have the same restriction as normal profiles in terms of the number of friends/fans they can have. (Normal profiles are limited to 5,000 friends).

Pros:
• They’re free and easy to set up
• Functionality can be extended with apps and custom tabs

Cons:
• Can be hard to get a foothold and build a fan base

2. Ads

Facebook offers an advertising platform whose strength lies in its ability to precisely target a specific demographic. You can create ads to target specific geographic areas, age groups, and even things like education level. Facebook also allows you to advertise to friends of people who have liked your Page or Group.

Pros:
• Powerful targeting parameters
• Option to only pay when someone clicks on your ad
• Control your budget with daily maximum spend limits

Cons:
• Can get expensive, depending on your goals

Groups

Facebook Groups are similar to discussion forums but they have additional features similar to those found on Pages and Profiles (like a Wall, for example). You can create Groups related to your industry or product offerings as a way to connect with existing and potential customers.

Pros:
• Free to setup with high levels of user engagement

Cons:
• Can be very time consuming to maintain

How to Market with Pages

Facebook Pages are the simplest, easiest way to get started marketing with Facebook. They’re free, relatively easy to set up (at least in their default format), and incredibly flexible. There’s not much of a downside, either. Unfortunately, many companies don’t use Facebook Pages to their full potential – or worse, they use the platform badly.

These guidelines will help you make the most of your Facebook Page:

Don’t Ignore Your Information Tab

Think of the information tab on your Facebook Page as the equivalent to the “About Us” page on your website. It’s where people go if they want to know who you are and what your company does.
Make sure you put relevant and accurate information here. Include your contact details and website address. A good shortcut is to use an edited version of the text from your “about us” page of your website. Just remember to keep it short, conversational and informative. “An informal / casual tone usually works best on Facebook.”

Post Useful Information to Your Wall

What you post to your wall will show up in your fans news feeds, just like when you post something to your personal profile.
So, make sure what you’re posting is useful and interesting to your fans. Don’t post endless updates about the same thing, or post too many updates overloading your fans with too much information.

Here are some ideas for the kinds of things you could post on your wall:

• Links to interesting articles related to your product or industry
• Discount codes for fans to save on your products
• New product announcements

Again, make sure that your posts are useful. Also, don’t post more than a few times each day unless there’s some special event going on.

Ask Your Fans Questions:

Getting your fans involved with your page is a great way to inspire loyalty and improve your interaction rate. Asking questions in your updates gets people involved, but on their own terms. What to ask depends largely on your product or service, but asking simple questions usually garners the best responses. Asking opinions on a new product idea or project can also be a good way to show your customers that your company cares about what they want.

Run Competitions that Appeal to South Africans

Competitions can be very effective in attracting new fans and generating hype around your products. Use Facebook ads to get more people interested in your competition. Ads can be very cost effective if implemented correctly.

Some guidelines for your competition:
• Get people involved – try to make the competition about the experience as well as the prize
• Encourage people to share the competition details with their friends
• If possible, make the prize something decent. Nobody’s going to put that much effort in for a R20 prize
• Run the competition over a two to three week period. This will give people a chance to get involved without becoming bored
• Make it fun!
• Make sure you don’t contravene Facebook’s policies

Targeted Advertising

Facebook gathers a vast amount of demographic information about its users which is made available to marketers through the Facebook advertising portal. You can target potential customers based on virtually anything you might find in their profile, as well as track your success within each of your target market segments.
Ads can be run on a per-impression or per-click basis. You can set daily limits so there’s no risk of blowing your budget.

Types of Facebook Ads

There are a number of ad subtypes you can choose from, each with their own pros and cons. It’s important to know that you can use ads to send people to either your Facebook Page, or to a specific page on your external website (i.e. not on Facebook). However, some of the ad types are only available if you’re sending people to your Facebook Page. You can also create ads to promote a Facebook event, complete with an RSVP link.

Targeting Options

As already mentioned, Facebook has some of the most powerful targeting tools of any online advertising program. Lets give an example: You have a line of t-shirts made for woman who like surfing and outdoor sports. You can create an ad that will target, woman between the ages 18 and 30 who live near the coast, are single and enjoy sports, fitness, surfing and outdoor activities.

Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups are a great way to foster a community around your company and products. While groups are generally much less commercial than Pages, there’s still room to use them for marketing. The major advantage of a Group is that they can often encourage discussion and participation better than a Page would.
Don’t create a Group based on your company. Instead, create a Group based on your industry or the niche your company serves. For example, if you sell extreme sports equipment make a Group that discusses the latest trends or the best place to practice the sport in your local area.

Creating More Engagement and Interaction on your Facebook Page

A successful Group is one with an active discussion tab. This is just like a forum – the more people voice their opinion, the more successful the Group will be. Discussions do require some moderation and care, particularly in South Africa where the vast diversity of views can often lead to some confrontation. Make sure you include a clear set of content policies prior to starting your Group – post the policies where all your members can see them. You’ll also want to moderate the discussion boards to make sure you’re not being spammed.

Facebook in South Africa

Facebook is the most widely used social media platform in South Africa with 4 Million active users.
• There are more woman than men on Facebook in South Africa
• The fastest growing segment of Facbeook users in South Africa is over 55 years old
• With many smart phones having dedicated Facebook Apps, marketers can interact with those South African’s without internet at home.

Conclusion

Facebook is an vital tool in the current Digital Marketing environment. It is also one of the easiest ways to spend money on advertising and get little to no results. This means that you need to ensure that you manage to stay on top of any new techniques that are released and also ensure that your advertisements are optimized to get the best results possible. If you do manage to find ways to ensure you use Facebook properly you will find yourself a valuable resource as you open gateways to new customers and clients.

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