More than 20 million people connect to Facebook Pages on a daily basis, and if you’re a marketer, your goal is to be one of those pages, interacting with users the same way they interact with their friends.
La Coste markets through a Facebook Page, a Facebook Application and Facebook advertising. Prior to their entrée on the social network, about 600,000 Facebook users said the liked the brand in their profiles. Today, La Coste has more 3.8 million fans with more than 112 million friends, giving the sportswear company the chance to generate demand through an army of trusted advisors with staggering reach. That’s where Facebook marketing gets interesting, when start looking at friends of friends.
So enticing is the opportunity that this year Ford Motor Company launched their new Explorer exclusively on Facebook. What we’re dealing with is a social network with greater reach and frequency than the mainstream news media. It’s why Mark Zuckerberg is Time’s Person of the Year and why “The Social Network” did huge business and got 11 Tony Award nominations. It’s totally game changing. It’s the future of the paid content.
Working off the principle that friends are more trusted that advertisers — or Google’s algorithm for that matter — Facebook gave La Coste a way to market through friends, the most trusted and influential source of information. Given the sheer size of Facebook, people talk about brands and services whether companies participate or not. Facebook Pages give companies the chance to anchor those discussions to their own status updates, links, photos and video, and in so doing, position their brands they way they’d like to be featured, and make it easy for people to advocate on their behalf.
Facebook Pages are free tools that can be set up by a company, brand, product or service. Once a Facebook Page has been set-up, organizations can communicate through status updates which appear on the Facebook Wall of that page. If a Facebook user clicks the “Like” button, she subscribes to wall of that Facebook Page, and all new status updates posted to that page will automatically appear in their newsfeed. When a Facebook user “Likes” a Page, they are subscribing to the Page’s status updates.
There are some options for customizing Facebook Pages, the most common of which is creating custom tabs where company specific information can be featured, such as a bio page for the community manager, an explanation of what friends can expect to receive from the Page if they subscribe or a landing page designed to drive transactions. Facebook will be moving away from static FBML next year for <iframe>, so marketers will need to able to host content themselves. But Facebook does expects third party developers to offer static iframe solutions as well.
Because Facebook users set up their profiles when they sign up, companies can see the demographics of the people they’re connected with. Facebook says this information is very accurate, and their terms of service — which restricts a user from maintaining more than one profile — are intended to discourage anonymity, the root of most online vandalism and spammy behavior, Slideshare CEO Rashmi Sinha said in a podcast about B2B lead generation. But research tells a different story, with nearly half of all US-based social networking users masking their true identities online.
Respect the Trust of Your Users: Best Practices for Managing Facebook Pages
If people like a company’s Facebook Page, they’re making a social connection with that company. They’re not there to be marketed to. They’re there to participate in a dialogue. They’re there to share the opinions and ideas. And they’re there to tell what they like and what they don’t like about your brand.
Focus on Publishing – Every time a status update is published to the wall of a Facebook Page, it is syndicated to all the fans of that page, who have the option of liking the update, commenting on the update or simply publishing the update to their Facebook friends. If the like or comment the post, that activity will be shared with their Facebook friends as well. So focus on publishing status updates.
Keep it Simple – Facebook newsfeeds move quickly and people tend to scan updates, rather than hang on each word for their meaning. Share a single thought, product or offer. Compound status updates, or updates with clever puns or word plays, are less likely to be read.
Be Consistent – Use the Facebook Page to reinforce the brands core attributes. Brand your page appropriately. Develop a social media policy and provide social media training so Facebook Page managers have the social media literacy to do their jobs effectively.
Pace Yourself – If you update too frequently, you’ll be seen as a conversation hog, and likely lose subscribers. Use a social media engagement dashboard to schedule update to go out over the course of the day or week. The more connections you get on a Facebook, the more careful you need to be, because you’re talking to a very disparate audience and becomes difficult to publish content that interests everyone.
Be Timely and Relevant – If you’re going to post a special offer, post it when it is most likely to be useful to your followers like during your company’s business hours. Make a calendar and publish updates when they’re most likely to generate transactions. People are in a different state of mind on Monday than they are on Thursday.
Social networks are changing the marketing game and Facebook has the advantage of the most users. The cost of creating a social graph and building connections with friends is very high. It’s difficult to change social networks. Unless the new social network provides significantly greater value, Facebook is unlikely to be undone. But with 1,500 employees and 500 million users, Facebook provides almost no customer service to smaller organizations at this point. If you’re La Coste or Ford, you get help. But if you’re a small to medium sized company, your own your own at this point. But Facebook is considering launching a premium page service that would include support.
Still, Facebook Pages give companies the chance to bring their brands into the social fray to drive traffic to their websites, engage in stronger relationships with their customers and get better insights into the products and services their customers want most.
The source material for this article was a special Facebook Pages and Facebook Advertising session by Facebook Account Executive Xavier Leclerc on Dec. 9, 2010, an audio recording of which is available at the preceding link.