Sunday, November 30, 2014

Marketing and communication - how best to use Facebook Pages in 2015

Are you concerned about the changes in the rules for Facebook Pages being introduced in January 2015?

From January, everybody using a Facebook Page will need to come up with new ways of communicating using Facebook and their Facebook Page in a way which
  • engages an audience
  • stimulates interest which leads to enduring 'likes' and an ongoing following
  • avoids the Page being buried and disappearing from the newsfeed of followers due to any inadvertent breach of the new rules
Yesterday's post generated a few queries so I'll try and address these below before going on to review different ways of doing things.

What this means for artists

Will the new rules for Facebook Pages have a major impact on 
the livelihoods of artists, art teachers, gallery owners, workshop providers etc?

Every artist promoting their business or products on Facebook needs to have a long hard think about whether and what they need to change to conform with the new rules for Facebook Pages being introduced. (see yesterday's post Change in Facebook Pages Rules will affect artists marketing their art).

What the new rules cover

The scope of the NEW rules COULD cover:
  • art for sale (originals or reproductions)
  • commissions
  • art exhibitions, 
  • art workshops and 
  • art books 
  • new product/services you offer

Specifically what the new rules DEFINITELY INCLUDE are the following. Remember these were identified as practices which either people said they really didn't like and/or these were the type of posts which people hid or otherwise indicated they didn't want to see in their newsfeeds.
  • posts which want people to buy a product e.g. a painting or a workshop. In effect, it seems to me that Facebook think "adverts" for products or services which will generate income ought to be paid if you are using Facebook which is a site which you pay nothing to access. My view right now is you should AVOID:
    • language such as "Buy now" or "Go to wherever to buy my art" or "sign up for my workshop"
    • posting of links e.g. to an eBay auction or anywhere else you are selling your art
  • Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context. The clue here are the words "no real context". 
    • Do not make your Page a "gaming" site with offers and promotions which are OTT.
    • Always make any promotion 100% relevant to the stated purpose of the Page e.g. an art magazine running a competition for artists whose art was going to be featured in "Top paintings of 2014" who were then going to be featured in an article in the magazine would, in my opinion, be OK. 
    • My advice would be to:
      • avoid sharing offers made by others which are specific to their sites but not yours
      • avoid sharing any third party content relating to competitions or sweepstakes
      • whatever the content if it looks "pushy" and/or "in your face" avoid it and do NOT share
  • Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads - if the content is in an advert then it can't be on a Facebook Page. 
    • I think this is Facebook trying to "nab" people who start of advertising to get their follower numbers up - then they stop paying for their adverts and carry on using the content from their adverts. 
    • However what's odd about this is it might work against Facebook. Who now is ever going to include any text or links in an advert if this means they will never ever be able to use them again on Facebook? Why would anybody ever use their studio or gallery name and/or a website link in an advert?

Marketing & Communication - 10 Tips for using Facebook Pages in the future

I've been thinking about what opportunities remain for people to continue to use a Facebook Page to market their art in 2015 and below I have 10 tips for how best to approach marketing and communication in 2015 - and how best to use your Facebook Page in the future.

1.  Get your head around "Marketing"

Marketing art is not selling art nor is it advertising art - but it does include both these activities alongside a wide range of other approaches.

Marketing is a whole range of activities which cumulatively result in people becoming predisposed to buy your product.  So start finding out about the other ways you can market your art and remain 'bona fide' on your Facebook Page. (some suggestions below)

If you are in business as an artist, art gallery, art teacher or whatever you need to understand that generating income is about a lot more than advertising and selling direct.

Remember that the Facebook definition of "promotion" is advertising via Facebook.

My view is you can continue to use your Facebook Page for Marketing in an indirect sense (ie NOT "in your face") BUT you won't be able to include direct marketing content e.g.
  • which is effectively an advertisement 
  • or has been an advertisement in the past 
  • or is the type of post which people really dislike e.g. OTT direct selling/promotion

Hence you MUST think very carefully about the best location for different marketing activities. It is very definitely best to OWN the sites where you use direct marketing in an overt and explicit way.

So out of your website, blog or newsletter - or Facebook - which is the best place to:
  • host promotions re selling art?
  • place advertisements for where your art sells?
  • host and manage a campaign to drive traffic to your website / place where you sell art or services to artists?

2.  Study the Facebook Guidance 

Facebook: What are the most engaging types of Page posts?
Facebook: What are the most engaging types of Page posts?
Guidance from the Facebook website as to posts which are OK on Facebook Pages in 2014
Will the guidance on Facebook offers be the same in January 2015?
You can help your Page posts have a better chance of being shown in News Feed by creating high-quality posts and engaging with your audience.
It's clear to me that some people will need to read what Facebook says in its guidance.
  • Unfortunately at the moment the guidance on what you can and cannot post on your page can be difficult to find (see the above image of Facebook guidance)
  • the guidance also identifies as "good practice" something which is going to get your Page buried if you follow that practice in future. 
  • So start mugging up on what I assume will be new Guidance to be published in January which will make the situation clearer.

3.  Fix up your Profile

If you want people to find you and your art, then you need to tell them how to do this.
  • You cannot tell people in a post - that would be like an advert
  • You can tell people in your profile - go and check your profile now and see how many of your "need to know about" websites have their URLs included.  
  • On the Page Info of your Facebook Page Profile you can include:
    • your Facebook address
    • html for any RELEVANT website or blog in the company overview
    • your website
    • plus I've got my blog in the "Founded" section - but then it does go back to 2005!
    • a short description of your business (limit 155 characters)
    • Use the long description as they advise for your type of Page
  • if your Facebook Page relates to a PLACE ie a studio or gallery then you will able to include the address and telephone number and a Facebook Map of its location
  • if your Facebook Page relates to a BOOK then it can include the ISBN and other publication details on the About Page

4. Always Stay Relevant 

This one is really important. You are much less likely to be seen as a site which people don't like (ie unfollow) if you stick to your chosen topic and DO NOT ALLOW any other subject matter to get into your news feed.

So, for example, on my Making A Mark Facebook Page I will aim for a very good fit between my Making A Mark blog. Making A Mark has always been a place were news about artists, art exhibitions, art competitions, art societies, art education etc  have been highlighted and I will continue to do more of the same. However in the future I'm likely to be much more circumspect about highlighting any special offers by art suppliers as that's not the focus of my blog. I won't ever be saying that an artist has work for sale.

5.  Watch your language

Do NOT indulge in any DIRECT SELLING or promotion of your own art or an exhibition / workshop or book you are associated with on your Facebook Page.

If it looks and sounds like an advertisement then it shouldn't be on your Facebook Page.

Instead think of ways of indirect selling. Make sure that your language focuses on raising awareness in a moderate way. For example:
  • Remind people about an upcoming exhibition - by showing you getting ready framed work ready to go - or the end result of a lot of framing.
  • Show people enjoying themselves at your workshop
  • Highlight artists whose work is in your exhibition or book

6.  Focus on engagement 

If you create an interesting Page then you'll find people will want to sign up for it- and won't hide or ban posts from you.
  • Make posts about your own finished work more infrequent.
  • Keep the activities of family and friends for your Personal Facebook Account - unless of course they are part of the business
  • Talk about your approach and/or processes for making art. Possible topics include:
    • things you are interested in (especially those that you draw or paint); 
    • your artistic process e.g. a video of how you work
    • a discussion of the paints your favour and why - with pics
    • a discussion of how you like to frame your paintings - and why - with pics

7.  Use Insights to identify posts which get good levels of engagement 

I personally find Insights fascinating in terms of telling me what people like or dislike. I've always used statistical review to inform what I write about and I always make a point of checking out the reception of any new kind of post.

Why not take a snapshot now of your baseline of "reach" and "engagement" so you've got a basis for measuring the performance of your page in January as the new rules start to be implemented.

If you're not yet in the habit of using Insights, I suggest you start reviewing them if you want to maintain an active and engaging Facebook Page in the future.

8.  Use email marketing to promote your successes

People who signed up to your email newsletter want to hear about you and your art or art services. They've given you permission to boast about successes or to share what new products you have got available.

Make sure you direct your attention to building your email newsletter and using this for active direct marketing material

9.  Use other social media sites

There's a lot of merit in the old saying "Don't put all your eggs in one basket".  It's always a big mistake to rely on any one site to help you generate most of your income.

You should have a portfolio of channels through which you can communicate and get results. All of these need to be regularly tested so you are always clear as to which site gives you the best results and where your effort is best employed. This is just standard operating procedure when marketing - but it's sometimes very easy to forget if you're not so experienced in marketing and one site is giving you very good results.

10. Don't forget the value of a Press Release

For those who are not experienced in writing a Press Release (believe me I know a LOT of people aren't judging by the ones which get sent to me!) you might want to try checking out my Making A Mark Guide The art of writing a press release.

The Art of Writing A Press Release
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

A carefully worded and targeted Press Release can raise your profile in your home area and generate traffic for your artwork, exhibition, open studios, commissions etc.

Then you can discuss the beneficial impact on Facebook without breaching the rules!

Note: I've been writing about Facebook for a long time - and am a long term user 0- however I am not Facebook and my opinions are just that - opinions. Always read what Facebook has to say for the definitive guidance - because I may have got something wrong!

Other posts about Facebook

I've written a number of previous posts designed to help people make Facebook more useful.  The bottom line is that if you are going to make it work for you then you have to put in a bit of effort.

These are:

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