How to Improve Your Exposure in Facebook’s News Feed

A hot topic of conversation surrounding Facebook is that business pages are not showing up as frequently in the News Feed. You’ve probably seen posts asking you to add a fan page to an Interest List on Facebook in order to make sure you see all of that page’s posts. Many people are complaining that Facebook wants you to pay for “promoted posts” in order to ensure your post is seen by most of your fans.

Although your first inclination might be to go ahead and pay for certain posts to get better exposure, there are ways you can improve your page’s exposure in the News Feed.

Post Photos

It’s no secret that photos receive the best engagement on Facebook. We live in a visual, time-crunched society. And because of time constraints, photos outperform videos and status updates on Facebook. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be posting videos or status updates, it simply means you should focus more on sharing photos.

Use Photos to Increase Visits to Your Website

Most marketers and business owners like to use Facebook to drive traffic to their website. You can use photos to increase the likelihood of your fans clicking on a link you post on Facebook.

If you’re linking to a page on your website that has a photo, Facebook will pull that photo and display it, but it’s not a very large photo. As an option, you could post a photo on Facebook, and in the description of the photo you can add the link to your website. Many marketers are now posting links in this manner and are finding better success.

Midwest Living Facebook Post

 

Use Photos to Encourage Comments

When you want to get a response from your fans on Facebook, be creative with the way you use photos. For example, when you want to ask your fans a question, rather than simply post the question into the status update box, you can use a photo to ask the question. Upload the photo and in the description, ask your question. You’re more likely to get a larger number of responses.

When you post a photo, you can also try including a “fill in the blank.”  Post a photo of a scenic pond and waterfall and ask fans to fill in the blank. “This backyard oasis makes me feel _______________.” Responses will range from relaxed to heavenly and more.

 Better Homes and Gardens Facebook Post

 

When you start employing some of these methods, take note which ones gain the best response. Also, as you view other business pages on Facebook, pay attention to how they’re using photos. You’ll gain new ideas and will better understand how to engage your audience. As more people start commenting and liking your posts, it will improve your exposure in Facebook’s news feed.

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Why You Should Change Your Facebook Cover Photo

Most of you Facebook users are familiar with changing your profile picture and you swap it out when you want to express something new about yourself. But what about your business page’s cover photo? Have you changed it since Facebook rolled out its new timeline?

The cover photo on Facebook is like the header photo on your website. It’s the first thing people see when they come to your page and says a lot about you and your business. In fact, it’s the first step toward marketing your business on Facebook.

When choosing your cover photo, think about the message you want to send. Since the page I manage is all about water gardening, I want to showcase the beauty of a water feature in the landscape, and I want that photo to draw the person in and inspire them to add a pond, waterfall, or fountain to their own landscape.

Once you choose your cover photo, make sure that your profile picture complements it since they are shown together at the top of your Facebook timeline. Here’s an example of a creative cover/profile picture combination:

Pretzel Crisp Facebook Cover

To add interest to your Facebook page, update your cover photo from time to time. You could choose to go with seasonal themes, swapping out a summery pond photo for a colorful autumn pond photo. In the winter, a snowy scene works well since it shows your customers the beauty of a waterfall with ice formations. If you don’t have winter photos, try an evening photo of a pond with night lighting that sets a serene scene during the shortened days of winter.

Facebook cover photos are 851 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall. But if you’re clueless when it comes to editing photos, Facebook makes it easier by giving you the opportunity to drag and reposition your cover photo after you upload it.

Aquascape Inc on Facebook

You can also add text to your photos before uploading them, however, Facebook has some restrictions on what type of text you can add. For example, you can’t promote a sale with your cover photo, but you can add a quote or similar.

For more information, read Facebook’s guidelines on cover photos.

Using Twitter Lists to Keep Tweets Organized

Twitter is intense. No doubt about it. If you’re following hundreds of people on this microblogging site, it’s near impossible to keep up with the conversations. For example, I follow over 4500 people on our Aquascape account. There’s no way I can read all those tweets in one day and still get the rest of my work done. In fact, in the time it took me just to write this first paragraph, I received over 90 new tweets in my feed. So what’s a girl to do? Use Twitter’s List feature to keep incoming tweets organized (if you don’t know what a “tweet” is, it’s simply what someone types and posts on Twitter).

To access the List feature on Twitter, click on the drop down arrow to the right of the Settings icon and then click on Lists from the menu. You’ll then be taken to your List page where you can create and manage lists. You’ll also be able to find out what lists you’ve been added to by others.

Twitter List

Once you’re on your Lists page, simply click the Create List button to create a new list and add people you follow. In the future, you can continue to add Twitter accounts to this list … or even remove them if need be.

I’ve created a few lists of topics that are important to me and then continue to add folks to these lists when appropriate. For instance, I’ve created a “pondering” list that includes people I’m following in the pond industry. With a quick click on the title of the list I can see what peers in the industry are saying and doing. No need to scroll through thousands of tweets, which would be far too time-consuming.

Twitter Listing

I also like to see what lists Aquascape has been added to … it’s my opinion that if people are adding me to lists, they think I’m posting helpful information. It’s useful to see what type of lists I’ve been added to … there might be a group of people who can provide networking opportunities I hadn’t previously considered. And I might find a few new folks to follow on Twitter.

Twitter List Screenshot

In addition, Twitter shows you lists you’re subscribed to … typically the lists you’ve created. To see what lists you’ve been added to; simply click on the “Member of” link to the left of the Create List button. Anyone on Twitter can add you to a list. If you want to subscribe to a list someone else has created, simply click on the title of that list and you’ll be taken to that list’s page. Then click on the Subscribe button you’ll find on the left hand side. This is a convenient way to follow information important to you without having to follow more individuals on Twitter.

For more information on using Twitter’s List feature, simply check out the List section in the Help Center.

 

 

 

Use Facebook to Create a Vision of Life

Aquascape WaterfallRecently I heard someone mention that businesses should use Facebook to create a vision of life for their customers. I couldn’t agree more! Create an experience with your Facebook page and you’ll be far more successful than if you’re simply peddling your wares.

I cringe every time I see a business post something like, “Need a good plumber? Call Joe at blah blah blah.” Before I call Joe, he better give me a good reason for calling him. For example, has Joe spent time on his Facebook page providing helpful plumbing reminders like turning off the outdoor water spigot before winter rolls around? Is Joe answering questions on his Facebook page that customers are posting? Has Joe shared a photo of an oversized tub filled with bubbles surrounded by candles? Something that inspires me to upgrade my bathroom?

Take a look at your own Facebook page. A critical look. Are you creating a vision of life for your customers on your page? Are you showing photos that draw them in and make them want to be a part of that photo? Do you provide tips and knowledge to improve the quality of their life? Or are you simply broadcasting why they should tell all their friends about you?

Make sure you’re providing value and having authentic conversations on Facebook. For example, if someone complains about algae in their pond, provide feedback on why they might be having that problem as opposed to saying, “call me and I’ll fix it for you.” Once you provide them with knowledge and insight, they’ll grow to trust you. And once you have their trust, you’ll likely have their business, as well.

 

Aquascape Fish PondPond builders and retailers have the ideal opportunity for creating a vision of life for customers. Photos of children playing in a waterfall, families dining on their patio by the pond, butterflies and frogs visiting a water feature, the family dog sticking his nose in the pond to play with the koi … all of these images create a vision of enjoyment and relaxation for your customers.

On occasion, it’s okay to promote your business, just don’t let it hog the conversation. Follow a 70/30 rule of thumb for your Facebook posts. 70% of your posts should create a vision of life … the other 30% can be promotional. If you keep in mind that Facebook is a community site where people connect and share life, you’ll find you have greater success.

How to Email Photos and Status Updates to your Facebook Page

Busy work days can make it challenging to check into Facebook and post a photo or status update. You know it’s important to be active on Facebook, but how do you find the time to participate … especially if most of your work is done outside of an office setting?

Facebook provides an email tool to make it easy to create status updates and upload photos to your page using a mobile device. Here’s how to get your unique email address for sending photos and status updates to your page:

  1. Log onto your business page on Facebook. From the Admin Panel’s “Edit Page” menu options, choose “Manage Permissions.”
  2. Once the new page loads, you can then choose “Mobile” from the list of options on the left-hand side of the page.
  3. Facebook provides 3 options for accessing your business page using a mobile device. The first one shows an email address. Save the email address to your phone’s contact. You can give it a contact name like “Facebook Fan Page” or similar. Once you’ve saved this email address, you can start using it.

To post a status update using the email address, simply open your email on your mobile device and choose the Facebook address as the recipient. In the subject line of the email, write your status update and then click “send.” It’s important to remember that you must type the info in the subject line of the email and not in the body of the email.

To post a photo using the email address, choose a photo from your mobile device to send. Once again, use the subject line of the email to write the caption … do not put the caption in the body of the email or it won’t show up on your page. Choose your Facebook page’s email address as the recipient and then click “send.”

You could, of course, simply log onto your Facebook page using the Facebook app for your mobile device and post status updates or photos. However, I’ve noticed that when posting photos to your page from a mobile device, there seems to be an annoying rate of “Update Failed” occurrences. Facebook’s mobile email option simply gives you another option for posting updates and it appears to be more reliable, as well.

Visiting Aquascape Marketing on Facebook for more helpful tips.

Hometalk: Where Professionals Connect with Home, Garden, and Pond Lovers

Hometalk is a fairly new online community where professionals and homeowners can share projects, ask questions, and find answers. DIY fanatics can share photos and information about their home and gardening projects on Hometalk in an easy-to-use format. Other DIY folks can comment or ask questions about the project to find more information. Likewise, professionals can post their projects and consumers can inquire about the products and services used to create it.

Hometalk Website

 

Having launched in March 2011, Hometalk quickly grew to 100,000 members with over 400,000 very active Facebook fans. According to Matthew Shampine, VP of Business Development and Marketing, Hometalk’s member ratio consists of 70% homeowners and 30% professionals. Those are great odds for a business pro who wants to capitalize on exposure to consumers without a lot of competition.

The odds keep getting better, however. I’ve been tracking Hometalk’s growth on Facebook and within a recent 2-week time span; their fan base grew from about 395,000 to over 420,000! That’s about 15,000 new Facebook fans per week. And their fan base just keeps growing.

Hometalk is obviously committed to their community as they’re diligent in sharing member projects on their Facebook page. And when they do, the project has the potential to go viral very quickly. A couple weeks ago Hometalk shared an Aquascape photo on their Facebook page that I had uploaded to their website just a few days prior. Within 24 hours the pond photo had been shared over 2,500 times and received over 300 comments and 6,500 likes!

In addition, Aquascape’s Pondless® Waterfalls photo album has over 17,000 views on Hometalk’s website. That’s more photo album views than we’ve been able to generate on our Facebook page.

Pondless Waterfalls by Aquascape

As a home and garden professional, you can answer the many questions that homeowners have about ponds and water gardens on Hometalk. Sometimes a homeowner will throw out a simple question such as, “How much does it cost to add a waterfall to my yard?” Not only can you answer the question, but you can usually see the city and state where the member lives. Perfect, if they happen to hail from a region you service!

Hometalk is pretty good about fielding questions to the right professional, too. They’ve already sent me questions about water features from homeowners on their site. Would Facebook do that for you?

To join, simply log onto www.hometalk.com and create your free account. Be sure to post a few photo albums and start interacting with homeowners interested in water features. You’ll also want to like Hometalk on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hometalk.

During the social media seminar at our recent Pondemonium training event, Hometalk was presented as a great resource to gain exposure. Since then, many of our contractors are now using Hometalk and seeing great results.

While you’re at Hometalk, be sure to connect with us at www.hometalk.com/aquascape-inc.

Using Social Media to Dispel Myths and Fears about Ponds and Water Features

Many of you understand the importance of promoting your business via social outlets, but are you aware that social media can help you conquer homeowners’ objections to water features before you even go on a design consultation?

Today’s consumers are conducting more online research before they commit to buy a product or service. The internet has  made it fast and easy to comparison shop before any money leaves your customer’s wallet. A quick Google search  provides a wealth of product information within just minutes, from pricing to consumer reviews and more.

Do you know what your customers are saying about your products and services? Are you talking to potential customers online, much as you would over the phone or face-to-face?

Many folks who desire a water feature have concerns that you need to overcome before they’re willing to take the plunge. They worry about mosquitos. They wonder if it’s okay to keep the fish out in the pond all winter long. They’re concerned their pond will become an ugly algae monster. You should use social media outlets to dispel pond myths and overcome objections so your potential customer a) is not afraid to make the purchase and b) trusts you as a source of reliable information.

Hometalk

Case in point … at the end of June I posted a “Small Water Gardens” photo album on Hometalk and started receiving several questions about the beautiful ponds. The first question asked whether the fish would freeze during the winter. The next question asked whether a pond should be located in sun or shade, or a little of both.

And then there was Judy B who was craving a pond but had a relative trying to talk her out of it. Her cousin had a pond that was a maintenance nightmare (obviously not built properly) and he didn’t want Judy to suffer the same tragedy. I mentioned she might want to start with a Pondless® Waterfall, and then after gaining confidence, she could always add the pond at a later date. She was thrilled with this notion, having never heard of installing a waterfall without a pond.

Aquascape on PinterestAnother example of dispelling fears occurred on Pinterest. I had pinned a photo of a Pondless® Waterfall paired with our RainXchange® rainwater harvesting system. Debra asked if the waterfall experienced any rainwater washouts and I was able to ensure her that the RainXchange® is actually designed to help manage stormwater runoff.

Questions are also posted frequently on our Facebook page frequently, from potential current pond owners alike. Answering each person’s question not only gives you the opportunity to designate yourself as an authority on ponds and water features, but it also provides invaluable opportunity to present yourself as someone who provides attentive service and concern for customers.

Be sure that while you’re posting photos of your beautiful water features and linking to your website, that you’re also paying attention to what current and potential customers are saying. Respond to their questions and comments in a timely fashion (within 24 hours is best) and they’ll grow to trust and like you. And when they’re finally ready to get their feet wet with a pond or waterfall, you’ll be the first person who comes to mind.