Fans are vanity and sales are sanity. —Lori Taylor, social media marketer

It's easy to get sidetracked from sales because there are a ton of digital parameters for success, elaborate conversion funnels, follower counts, newsletter signups, likes, shares...

But the purpose of your investment in social media is ultimately to sell.

Yet, good-old, traditional selling is becoming trickier to do, because social media are savvier than ever and know when they are being marketed to.

That said, the number of businesses selling on social media is increasing even as you read, especially on the king of all platforms, Facebook.

Have you tried to harness Facebook's potential as an online store for your products or services? It takes time and effort, but it can yield worthwhile results. Here are a few easy tips to help you get started.

Create a Facebook business page

Start with the basics, by creating a Facebook business page, which gives you customization options that a simple profile page won't.

The most important feature of a business page is the ability to add a custom tab to build your very own online store directly on Facebook.

Build an online store on Facebook

An online store tab on your Facebook page functions as a shopping cart for customers to buy directly on the platform. Alternatively, Facebook lets you set up a "Check Out on Another Website" option, so you can link to your own website.

Setting up a store isn't hard at all, especially if you are doing it with a landing page app.

What does that mean, and why would you use a third-party landing page app? Because...

  • You won't need designer skills or professionals to build your store.
  • You'll have plenty of customization options to make it work for your brand; you can choose colors, create a logo, and adjust layouts.
  • Landing page apps automatically come with an SSL certificate, which means you can secure your transactions without having to paying more.

Use these quick tips for marketing your new Facebook store

  • Include product images.
  • Use a new timeline cover or publish a status update inviting followers to check out your new store.
  • Remember the power of a strong visual brand identity. Use these design strategy essentials for Facebook.
  • Consider creating a customer focus group to try out the store experience and give you feedback before you go live.
  • Include an e-commerce widget for more customization options of your online store.
  • Use the "message to buy" option so your customers can inquire about your products in a message.

Share product links in status updates

When you share a status update, make sure it includes a link for viewers to share. That may not be rocket science, but it really works—and every marketer knows what a shame it is to publish a great piece of copy with no visible CTA.

Include a deep link that leads customers directly to the product you are trying to sell rather than to your homepage or a category page. Make it easy for them to add that product directly to their cart. After that, a conversion is just a few clicks away.

Use these quick tips for organic posts

  • Experiment with link shares. As I noted, create your posts as link shares instead of merely ordinary text, image, or video posts.
  • Keep an eye on Facebook's ad recommendations. When you are planning a post, check Facebook's recommendations for your format, which you can do on Facebook's Business Ad guide. That's important because some recommendations, such as aspect ratio, improve your posts visually by making them take up more space in the News Feed. Others, such as keeping text to no more than 20% of the image, actually affect your post's organic reach.
  • Always include a call to action. Text exceeding 90 characters is truncated, so keep your copy and CTA short and effective.

Use these quick tips for ad campaigns

As organic reach had steadily decreased, it's become clear that Facebook is for the most part a pay-to-play platform. And if you are investing in Facebook advertising, you need to use tactics to make that investment as cost-effective as possible.

Accordingly, create several ad variations and use audience targeting to show the variations to custom audiences. That can be done in a few simple steps:

  • Instead of just using the "Boost" button, create an ad for a Facebook page ad using a page post.
  • Since you'll be creating several variations of the ad, develop a system for naming each ad according to audience and ad placement (Product name (e.g., Widget) - Audience (e.g., Fans) - Placement (e.g., News Feed + Right Column)).
  • Select the post you want to make an ad out of (essentially "boosting," but with a twist).
  • Test which ad placements perform best so you can allocate your funds to those.
  • Use a conversion pixel to track Facebook conversions.

Create unpublished posts for split-testing

To see which types of ads work best, create unpublished-post ad variations. By creating slight variations of the same post, you can test which copy or visuals perform best, without cluttering your news feed with similar posts that will seem spammy to your audience.

The unpublished posts will appear as organic posts, but they'll display to different audiences because you won't be targeting the same people.

To A/B test your posts:

  • Select the existing post that you'd like to use as the ad.
  • Rename it descriptively and include details so you know exactly what it is later on.
  • Click "Create new unpublished post."
  • Customize each aspect of the post for all the different segments: URL, text, headline, description, picture, and caption.
  • Repeat until you reach the desired number of variations.
  • Monitor the posts to see what works and what doesn't!

Use these quick tips for audience targeting

For audience targeting, Facebook is the absolute winner, so make sure you use all the targeting options to your best advantage:

  • Target fans. Fans are always a good bet.
  • Target users similar to your existing customers.
  • Create custom audiences from email subscribers. Facebook lets you create a custom audience by uploading email lists you already have.
  • Target users with similar likes and interests.

You can use the unpublished-post method to create ad variations for different targets, or for custom email subscriber lists, so the ads will be tailored to different audiences.

The more you personalize your ads, the better your ROI potential!

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image of Nate Gadzhibalaev

Nate Gadzhibalaev is the founder of Amplifr, a service for automatically scheduling social media posts. With a background in product managing, business development, and international growth, he helps grow audiences profitably and efficiently.

LinkedIn: Nate Gadzhibalaev