Facebook marketing seems to be somewhat of an enigma when it comes to businesses wanting to use it to reach out to their customers. Not surprising, there are plenty of pundits out there with blog posts and commentary that focus on how you and your business should execute a Facebook marketing strategy and most social media professionals are aware of the tips, tricks and various other nuances on how to build a better brand on the social networking platform. For small businesses, have you been able to justify why you’ve done that particular tactic with Facebook? What about if you’re part of a larger corporation? Do you have the numbers to support your efforts? It just so happens that Jeremiah Owyang and his team at the Altimeter Group have put together a report that should give a deeper look at what people are really thinking when it comes to Facebook marketing.
So what’s probably the biggest thing to plague businesses that are interested in Facebook marketing? No strategy.
According to the Altimeter Group’s report “The 8 Success Criteria For Facebook Page Marketing“, in 2010, the top priority for 45% of senior marketers worldwide involved social networks and applications. After surveying over 30 vendors, agencies and experts to “determine success criteria and develop a roadmap for Facebook page best practices”, their evaluation discovered that nearly half of the brands they surveyed didn’t engage fully or leverage the social features to help in developing an effective word of mouth campaign.
So are marketers and brands just not understanding what Facebook is? Maybe and Owyang includes some business-focused statistics about Facebook so that marketers and business owners can put it into perspective that Facebook cannot be ignored. In fact, with over 500 million active monthly users, Facebook should have enormous opportunity to reach out to the masses. According to the report, engagement is “ripe” with 50% of active users logging in on any given day – with on average around 130 friends and spending more time on the site than on Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Microsoft, Wikipedia and Amazon combined. For businesses to dismiss Facebook or any other social network as a place where people can talk to each other is ludicrous. In a recent Nielsen study, consumers are starting to trust their friends and families more than any other source of information. A ReadWriteWeb article cited a Gartner study that said that a majority of consumers are using social networks as a way to inform buyer decisions – they relied on these services to help guide them in purchase decisions. So for businesses to discount them is a big mistake.
Owyang’s report also states that 60% of Facebook users are more likely to recommend a brand after being a fan – but are these brands left out of the loop? If they are, then they need to get back in synch with their customers because if 70% of all brands plan on increasing spending on offsite social media investments, they’re going to need a roadmap on how to leverage their Facebook strategy…
So Altimeter Group built one for brands to succeed in their Facebook marketing strategy…
Criteria #1: Set Community Expectations
Before you begin executing anything, it’s best to look at what you are about to get involved in a look at what your expectations will be. By setting these expectations, you’re preparing your business and also your audience/customers for the experience they will have with your Facebook marketing campaign. Owyang recommends that brands describe to the fans what they’ll expect from the brand: from deals, tips, support or just news & information. But communication is a two-way street so it’s also suggested that brands look at stating what they hope to expect from the fans – not in a negative way, mind you, but describing the type of interaction they hope to get, what comments are considered appropriate and even inappropriate and what limitations there are on what’s posted and shared. By taking these steps, this should hopefully remove any abuse, inappropriate action and help create a great experience for both the brand and the community participants.
Criteria #2: Provide Cohesive Branding
Your brand is the single most important thing that people will recognize about your business. To tie everything together, it’s best to make sure that your branding on your Facebook page matches your overall brand because without it, you’re just confusing your customers and it doesn’t help in building more trust with them. By tying in your brand with Facebook, you’re able to create a familiar experience for your fans and will help differentiate it from other brands. The Altimeter Group report suggests the brand is much more than a logo. In fact, you need to complete your profile information and when you do upload a branded logo that you maximize the real estate given for a profile picture. Other tie-ins could include custom applications or tabs that help resonate with the brand and theme.
Criteria #3: Be Up To Date
When setting up a Facebook strategy, the point is to interact and communicate with fans so it’s really important that you keep the page updated with information that is relevant for them. The Altimeter Group report states that new visitors and fans will want to know that the brand is present and will continue to remain engaged as long as their fans. Internally, it would behoove a brand to set up a content calendar. As you would create content for a blog, so to must you for your Facebook page. Whether it’s posting latest news and information or fun tidbits on your Facebook page wall, these things are important and shows that you’re not setting up a page just for people to be fans. You’ll be given some goodwill for a bit, but if you’re not using the page to interact and conversate with your fans, you’ll burn up all the goodwill you’re given and people will find ways to NOT be your fans. Remember, it’s probably easier to lose a fan than it is to keep a fan. Put forth the effort to make sure fans feel appreciated and you’re giving them an experience they enjoy.
Show your customers and fans that there is someone working at your brand that isn’t a robot or just a logo. Allow fans to connect with the people behind the brand. It’s suggested that your content should be reflective of someone who is alive, writes in the first person and is conversational.
Criteria #5: Participate In Dialog
Facebook is communication and conversation and this only happens if at least two people are talking to each other. The report suggests that in order to foster dialog, look at the existing discussions taking place and join in. Then you might also want to start your own conversations and see who participates in that. Make sure that you treat each person’s comment with appreciation and respond accordingly.
Criteria #6: Enable Peer-To-Peer Interactions
A Facebook strategy doesn’t rely solely on communication between fans and the brand. It’s a network that should allow people to communicate with others and share their own experience. This is why they are fans. Allow others to respond accordingly to various posts and discussions and you might see some evangelists pop up or maybe have others do the troubleshooting that you might otherwise not be able to get to at that moment. As in the first criteria, it’s important that you lay out the foundation for what will become a community policy so people have expectations on what type of dialog and interaction can happen in this setting. Embrace the dialog that people have with one another – don’t discourage it on your fan page.
Criteria #7: Foster Advocacy
Getting people to become fans of your brand on Facebook is really great, but the power behind the social network is the virality and word of mouth. Don’t stiffle this feature. Rather, embrace it and allow others to share the experience with their friends and followers.
Some ideas that are recommended by Owyang in his report include having existing fans share the page with their friends and also encouraging them to do something on the fan page that would be worth sharing with others (e.g. voting for something, sounding off on a topic, sharing videos/photos, etc.).
Being creative with custom tabs and applications while tapping into contests, polls and submissions are also good mechanisms to get additional fans.
Bottom line: for businesses, creating advocates can be difficult, but always give people value and reasons to share.
Criteria #8: Solicit A Call To Action
Now you have your customers being fans and they’re willing to engage and talk to you and you hopefully are talking back to them, what are the next steps? Close the deal and bring it all back to business. That’s why you set up the fan page after all…you want more business. Some suggestions to sell more include starting with a simple call to action on a landing page and on your wall. Do you want them to “like” your page, sign up for emails or perhaps just to learn more about your product and company? If you’re offering some sort of value to being a fan of your page, then you need to offer them some incentive to stay – does that include special Facebook deals or coupons? Insider secrets? Whatever that is, you need to make it really obvious and lead the fans to that area where they can take advantage of that opportunity. But before you start trying to sell, sell, sell, make sure that you have your customers trust before pushing your wares on them. You have become more friendly now and you don’t want to ruin the relationship.
So there you have it…eight criteria that brands need to follow through on according to the Altimeter Group to create a good Facebook marketing strategy. What do you think? Is there additional steps that need to be taken in order to be successful? You can view the full report by clicking here.Google+