After years of aimlessly chasing fans, it’s time marketers’ start driving real business results from Facebook. This requires building a Facebook page that has a clear focus and offers value to customers, leveraging the entire Facebook tool kit and integrating Facebook into a broader marketing strategy. To accomplish this, interactive marketers must be both an “oracle” who teaches their organization about Facebook and a “gatekeeper” who manages access to the platform. As marketers mature with the social network and Facebook increases its commitment to brands, together they will revolutionize the advertising industry.
Marketers haven’t cracked the facebook code:
From toppling governments to inspiring award-winning films to bringing long-lost family members together, Facebook is often the center of attention. And marketers are swarming to it like moths to a flame: 96 of the top 100 advertisers now use the site. Yet while millions of people have “liked” brand pages, most marketers fail to derive value from those relationships. In fact, engagement rates on brand pages are declining rather than increasing. The result? Believe it or not, most marketers don’t even see Facebook as their best option to drive audience engagement (see Figure 1). Marketers are failing to use the platform to its full potential because:
- They lack focus. In their race to start a Facebook page, many marketers forgot an integral step: setting clear objectives. Now they’re left with Facebook pages that have no purpose other than collecting “likes.” This lack of objectives not only hurts from a business perspective, but also means that fans don’t get any real value from liking the brand.
- They don’t understand the platform. Facebook is unlike any platform marketers have ever seen — it’s like a miniature Internet with its own set of rules. EdgeRank, Facebook’s system for deciding which content appears in the newsfeed, is similar to search engine optimization (SEO) but requires a different kind of optimization. Facebook Ads are a cross between banners and paid search — and don’t quite follow the conventions of either. Marketers struggle not only to understand each of these pieces individually, but also how they work together and how they’re evolving.
- They don’t have the right resources in place. Facebook doesn’t cost as much in money as it does in manpower — but many marketing organizations don’t have appropriate manpower in place — the dedicated people or the content development and sharing processes needed to be successful.
- They seek the wrong measurements. Marketers say that measuring return on investment (ROI) is their biggest challenge in social media, and measuring Facebook is no exception. Too many marketers ask “What is the value of a fan?” and not enough marketers understand their fans’ value in terms of loyalty and influence or Facebook’s impact on their business. Marketers won’t be able to prove value until they begin to ask the right questions.
Facebook Hasn’t Made Brands a Priority
Just as marketers have struggled to use Facebook properly, Facebook has struggled to help them succeed. In fact, for a company that relies on advertising revenues, Facebook hasn’t done much to make life easier for advertisers:
- It does not make content management easy. Marketing on Facebook requires a constant flow of content. Yet marketers aren’t set up to be publishers — and Facebook offers only limited options for managing multiple pages or handling multiple languages. Coca-Cola experienced this downside when Portuguese-language content accidentally appeared on its US page, inciting some users to respond with hate speech on a page that promotes happiness.
- It constantly changes the rules without warning. Facebook’s frequent and unilateral policy changes make it difficult for marketers to trust and invest in the platform. Just ask any pharmaceutical company: When Facebook recently removed the ability to disable user comments, it put the pharma companies at direct risk of violating government regulations and ultimately forced many to shutter their Facebook pages.
- It offers marketers limited data. Facebook is one of the only major websites that doesn’t allow third-party ad tags. Not only does that force marketers to rely on Facebook-provided data that one social analytics executive described as “lightweight,” but it means marketers can’t compare Facebook campaigns with other channels like search and banners or include them in attribution analysis. Without reliable, comparable data, brands can’t determine how important Facebook really is to their marketing mix.
Follow 4 Steps to Make Your Facebook Marketing Work:
Collecting fans without purpose isn’t enough; marketers must get serious about driving business results from Facebook. To do so, take four steps that will help you squeeze all of the possible value out of your Facebook program:
- Set clear objectives. If you don’t know what you want to achieve, you probably won’t achieve much at all. Define objectives that provide real value to your business.
- Build a page that provides value for your fans. Bring focus to your Facebook marketing by building a brand page that not only accomplishes your business objectives, but also gives fans a reason to continually engage the brand.
- Use the full Facebook tool kit to increase reach and engagement. A brand page shouldn’t sit on its own. It’s imperative that you combine features such as ads, events, and apps along with your brand page to get the most out of the network.
- Integrate Facebook into your marketing mix. Facebook is not an island. It’s as important to integrate it with the rest of your marketing as with any other medium.
Set Clear Objectives
Start by rethinking what your Facebook page is going to accomplish for your business. Facebook’s versatility lets you choose from objectives that span almost every part of the marketing mixes, including:
- Generating word of mouth. Facebook’s mission is to “give people the power to share” — and it has succeeded spectacularly. Over 4 billion “things” are shared every day, often related to products and brands. Facebook is the No. 1 site where consumers see social content about products and services, well ahead of any other social network. And according to Forrester’s Tech Marketing Navigator, the word of mouth generated on social networks plays a growing role in the purchase path for consumer technology products (see Figure 2).
- Driving people down the sales funnel. While it’s unlikely to replace dedicated direct marketing channels like Google AdWords, Facebook can drive some forms of direct response. John Deere uses Facebook content to tempt its half-million fans into a lead-generation site and reports that Facebook drives leads at a rate comparable to direct mail.
- Increasing loyalty. Facebook offers marketers a new way to engage their most loyal customers — and to get them to spread marketing messages. For instance, Tasti D-Lite allows fans to link their TastiRewards accounts to Facebook. Then every time they make a purchase, a customizable message is posted on their Facebook page.
- Helping your peers in product development or eBusiness. Savvy consumer product professionals are tapping Facebook for new ideas and to create new functionality. Starbucks created an application that allowed people to create their own Frappuccino online and then share with friends on Facebook. And Facebook has the potential to drive shared purchases. For instance, LiveNation’s Ticketmaster has integrated Facebook’s social graph into its interactive seating chart, allowing people to see where their friends are sitting and buy seats nearby.
Build a Page That Provides Value for Your Fans
Today’s brand pages are littered with a random mix of company news, promotions, advertising, and other content focused on what marketers want rather than what fans want. Carolyn Everson, VP of global marketing solutions at Facebook, says that the brands that succeed on Facebook are “the ones that give people a reason to be fans.” To provide value to your fans you should:
- Learn who your fans are and what they want. Facebook doesn’t provide much data on your fans, but there are ways of getting more information through opt-ins. EMI worked with campaign management platform Neolane to develop a Facebook app that collected opt-in customer information and then integrated it back into EMI’s customer database. Knowing who your fans are can help you determine not only how valuable they are as customers and influentials, but also what kind of content and engagement they’re looking for.
- Use Facebook data to dynamically optimize your content plan. While Facebook data is limited, dig through what’s available to learn how your community is responding to your posts. PageLever — an analytics tool that specializes in optimizing brand pages based on available Facebook data — pulls near real-time data from Facebook’s application
- programming interface (API) to help companies learn what content types are performing the best, which demographics are responding, and what time of day is optimal for posting. This data can then be used to create a dynamic content plan that gets the best response out of the community at any given point in time.
- Use apps to create a richer experience. A “like” allows fans to read and comment on your posts, but to create deeper engagement like games and contests you’ll need an application. For Valentine’s Day 2011, Target ran a contest called “The Super Love Sender” that let people vote on which charity would receive $1 million from the brand. Target’s Facebook app allowed fans to send friends personalized valentines and get real-time updates on which charity was in the lead.
- Keep your community active — even in down cycles. Your Facebook page is not a campaign, it’s a community of people who have raised their hand as brand advocates. As Scott Weisbrod, VP of strategy at Blast Radius told us, “Facebook allows for a more meaningful relationship than search or email. It’s important to build a content plan and calendar not only for your big campaign pushes but also during the down cycles when you’re not doing campaigns.”
Integrate Facebook into Your Marketing Mix
Facebook is too often treated as an isolated asset rather than an integrated part of the marketing mix — creating inconsistency in both the marketing plan and with the end user. To integrate it interactive marketers should:
- Incorporate Facebook’s social graph into your existing web properties. Facebook makes it easy for you to bring its massive sharing network to your website, creating additional reach and interaction with your content and experiences. Toymaker Step2 built a Facebook Connect login into its site so customers could repost their product reviews on Facebook as well. The results: The amount of traffic it got from Facebook grew 135%, and the revenue from that traffic grew 300%.
- Make Facebook promotions the foundation of broader campaigns. Chances are that your broader campaigns will create at least some conversation on Facebook; by making Facebook the center of that campaign you can incite both conversation and participation. Corona’s “the most liked beer in America” campaign featured the faces of its Facebook fans on a billboard in Times Square — both creating reach (signs in Times Square typically get 1.5 million impressions per day) and driving 200,000 new “likes” for the brand.
- Use Facebook data to make other marketing programs more effective. While Facebook makes it hard to learn who your users are, it’s relatively easy to track their actions — and to use that information to improve the rest of your marketing programs. For instance, customer relationship management (CRM) vendor Merkle can connect Facebook fans to existing CRM data. And marketers should work with vendors like DataXu, a demand-side media buying company, which now includes data from Facebook campaigns into its display media optimization algorithms.
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