Basic Facebook Strategy and Tactics for Parts Manufacturers and Retailers

There are about a million people offering Facebook marketing advice, so I’m going to try and keep this simple and focus on three key points:

  1. Facebook is about retaining your existing customers
  2. Facebook is about building your brand
  3. Facebook is about connecting with “influencers,” aka really active Facebook users who can help promote your company

Please note: I did not say “Facebook is about selling parts.” This is because selling parts on Facebook is hard. You’ll struggle to find customers and generate revenue until you get the basics down, and the basics are retention, branding, and connecting.

Here’s a guide to get you started.

Shouldn’t We ALWAYS Use Facebook to Try and Sell Parts?

Yes and no. Yes in the sense that your Facebook activity is intended to grow your business, but no in the sense that Facebook isn’t about hawking parts.

Don’t get me wrong – posting a sale announcement, offering Facebook fans a special discount, or running a giveaway can all be used to generate sales. You can also use Facebook’s advertising platform to try and sell parts. But Facebook is like a dinner party, and no one likes dinner party guests who:

  • Constantly talk about themselves (what they’re working on, what new parts they’ve just released, all the great pricing they have, etc.)
  • Constantly try to get the other guests to buy something
  • Never really ask about anyone else, or give anyone else a chance to talk
Facebook messages should be social

Your Facebook marketing shouldn’t focus on selling parts. It should focus on retention, branding, and connecting with fans. If you get too “salesy,” your fans will get mad.

There are tactics and strategies you can use to sell parts on Facebook, but these tactics require an understanding of the basics. Hence, this is a guide to “basic” Facebook marketing strategy and tactics. If you do all of the things we talk about in this guide at a high level, you’ll be in a position to use Facebook as a sales tool.

Using Facebook to Retain Customers

If you’re going to use Facebook effectively, you need to:

  1. Create a Facebook page and update it daily (2-3 times a day is best)
  2. Monitor and respond to all the comments and messages left on your page
  3. Get your new and existing customers to like your page
  4. Give everyone who likes your page a reason to share whatever it is you’re posting on your page

Key Concept: Your average Facebook fan is not going to see every message you post. This is because Facebook hides most business page updates.

By updating 2-3 times a day, you’re putting your messaging in front of your fans. If you schedule your posts to run when your fans are most likely to be on Facebook, the odds of a fan seeing a message go up. What’s more, Facebook tends to “hide” posts from fans as they “age.” A post that’s a few hours old is less likely to be seen than one that’s a few minutes old.

By monitoring and responding to all comments and messages, you’re engaging with the most active Facebook’ers in your fan base. The people who are commenting on your posts are probably active elsewhere, which means they’re likely to be “influencers.” Interacting with them is good business.

By getting your customers to like your page, you’re investing in a method to reach your existing customer base. Just like collecting email addresses from your customers is essential to powering your email marketing efforts, page likes are essential to Facebook success.

How to Run Your Facebook Page

How to run your Facebook page in 9 easy steps. Click for a larger view.

Finally, if your posts are interesting, your fans will like/share them. As a post is liked or shared, the reach of that specific post goes up. Basically, shares and likes spontaneously lead to more shares and more likes.

Tactical Advice: Facebook will let you boost any of your posts for as little as $5. Generally speaking, you get the most “bang for the buck” by boosting posts that have already done well. What’s more, the $5 boost tends to offer the best value. If your post doesn’t resonate, you’re only out $5. If it works, you’ll get $50-$100 worth of advertising at a bargain-basement price.

Using Facebook to Build Your Brand

“Branding” is a somewhat nebulous concept, and therefore I won’t spend a lot of time on it. Suffice to say, your Facebook page should reflect your company’s values and interests. If your company is staffed by a bunch of hard-core off-road enthusiasts, your Facebook page should post about off-roading…you can share pics of fully articulated suspensions, news about King of Hammers, etc.

If, on the other hand, your company is focused on making the best darn auto parts they can for a low price, your posts might want to reflect a focus on frugal living, cost efficiency, etc.

What you don’t want to do is post images of cute animals or funny memes merely because these things “get a reaction.” Getting a reaction is meaningless by itself, as the real goals are to help your fans remember your company, help them identify with your brand, and to build connections.

It's not about getting "likes" or comments. It's about representing your brand and selling some parts.

It’s not about getting “likes” or comments. It’s about representing your brand and selling some parts.

One other note on branding: An active Facebook page is a signal that your company is “real,” and that addresses a key concern that consumers have about buying parts online. Specifically, consumers are worried about being taken advantage of by nameless, faceless companies that hide behind some website. A well-maintained Facebook page helps demonstrate that your company is real, and that helps to establish trust with new customers.

Connect With Influencers

Facebook is a lot like high school – some kids were so good at making friends that they gained school-wide popularity. Facebook users who have lots of friends and/or make friends easily are often “influencers,” and getting these people on your side is important to the success and growth of your page.

Some specific tactics you can use to connect with these Facebook influencers:

  1. Ask questions in your posts and treat every response with respect. “Like” the responses that deserve a like, and respond to comments as appropriate. The odds are good that the responders are influential.
  2. Keep track of the fans that respond to your posts consistently. Message these folks and ask them for their opinions on what you’re posting, your website, your latest products, etc. Listen to what they say and – if possible – try to integrate their ideas.
  3. Give your most frequent Facebook commenters free stuff. Vehicle stickers and t-shirts are cheap and easy to give away, yet they’e generally appreciated by fans.
  4. Ask your most ardent fans for help “getting the word out.” You’ll be amazed at who your fans know, what they’re willing to do to spread the word, etc.

Don’t Delay – Start Using These Tips Now

I’m proud to say that none of the tactics or ideas I’ve outlined above cost a lot of money or take a lot of time. You can implement all of these ideas right now.

  • You can start posting images and videos right away
  • You can use Facebook’s built-in scheduling tool to create a few days worth of posts in just a few minutes
  • You can set a reminder to check your Facebook page for replies a couple of times a day (or have your staff do that)
  • You can ask your fans or customers to submit images and get free, quality content for almost no effort
  • You can create your own memes using imgflip.com (my personal favorite)
  • You can pay attention when a post gets a good response and try to replicate that result
  • You can set aside some funds for boosting posts
  • You can start asking every customer to like you on Facebook

Good luck!

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