Facebook is the old faithful of the social medias, but it can often be overlooked by businesses for the more fashionable platforms. It shouldn't be, as it is a great tool for generating sales.

As part of our Boost My Business initiative Fiona Alston caught up with digital media expert Colm Hanratty, CEO of Sixtwo Digital, and asked him for his top tips to help generate sales through Facebook.

Ensure you share your content at the right time – You can check through Facebook Insights what time your audience is actually online. Generally, the best time to get a greater audience is in the evening. When you're sharing content, as a rule of thumb share at around eight o'clock in the evening or after, because that's when your potential to reach as wide an audience is possible.

Run Facebook exclusive offers – if you run special offers that are Facebook specific - which aren't being promoted elsewhere -  and you market it as a Facebook only offer, it just makes your audience feel special and that it's worthwhile following your page of Facebook.

Have content which actually reaches your audience - Facebook chooses whether or not to actually show your content. For you to ensure that you reach as many people as possible, you need to mix up the type of content that you're sharing – video, go live, links to your website. Facebook does not share your content if your content isn’t engaging – it doesn’t get likes or shares.

Optimise your video content - When you're sharing video, there are certain things that you need to take into consideration. A lot of people will drop off from your video very, very quickly. The optimum time for a video is up to around 15 seconds, try and get your message across in that time.

You also have to take into consideration that people are going to be holding their phone vertically so shoot video in portrait or square.

If your video has dialogue in it with voiceover or somebody presenting - add subtitles to the video. A lot of people will have the sound turned off on their video.

Run Competitions - don't do like and share competitions, Facebook will actually penalise you for this. They released an algorithm update lately and they advise people not to do like and share contests, it’s engagement bating - it's not real genuine engagements.

Instead, run competitions that are playing by the Facebook rules. Use a third party software like Woo Box which will allow you to run a competition through your Facebook page where people need to enter their name, and email address – you'll also be capturing data of potential customers for email marketing.

Keep your social media social - remember that when you are publishing your content. Feature people in your content - when content features people it always generates wider reach and engagement than content without people. But at the same time, you need to be careful that you don’t exhaust this – don’t put yourself or the same person into every single piece of content or eventually that will just become tired - do it strategically.

Make sure that somebody proofs your content – this is key! People do it from their phone, they don’t look over a second time and they hit published - if you've got spelling mistakes and typos it just doesn't look professional.  When content is written, before you hit publish, have a second person look over your content before you before you hit publish.

Engage with people on your page - a lot of business pages just use Facebook as a broadcast tool but you should remember that it is a communication channel. If somebody says something nice about your business or brand, or leaves a nice review take a second to say thanks.  Make sure you answer all queries - remember Facebook can drive sales by communicating with people as well as simply just broadcasting to people.

Turn your likes into followers – if someone likes your content but doesn’t follow your page, send them an invite to like your page.

How often should you share? - There's no rule with this. If your content is good, it will be circulated for anything up to two or three days. If your content is performing well and you’ve something new to post, which isn’t time sensitive, just push it out until the other post stops preforming well – don’t have your posts competing with each other. In terms of how often you need to share - post every second day if that's possible.  

Constantly monitor your content - see what works, see what doesn't. Is video performing better than imagery? Is imagery performing better than video? Did you do a Facebook Live which got a huge amount of reach and video views? Analyse this and react to the information, you have it all at your disposal in Facebook Insights.

Run Facebook Ads from your desktop – rather than using your phone. The desktop version gives you much more control, flexibility, and functionality. It is easier to optimise your campaigns for the right results. As tempting and as easy as it is to boost an ad from your phone, just take the extra few minutes and do it from your desktop.

Know your KPIs before you launch a paid campaign – and then optimise your ads accordingly. Do you want leads? Do you need names and email addresses? Are you looking for sales? Should you install a Facebook Pixel?

Utilise A/B testing - With Facebook advertising you can have multiple ads that might have the same text but different images, videos, or a carousel. Instead of you pre-empting which image/video is going to perform better just run them all and let Facebook figure out which preforms best.

Install the Facebook Pixel on your website – Facebook Pixel is a small piece of code that goes onto your website. It gives you much better functionality; it allows you to retarget people who visit your website through your Facebook ads.  

Utilise targeting options - you can run campaigns which will only target your demographic, use this, don’t waste ads targeting people who won’t buy your product.

Freshen up you creative regularly – Change up your ads regularly. Change the image or the video – give people something fresh to look at.

Turn off your ads that are not preforming – the beauty of Facebook ads is you can turn the ads on and off when ever you like.