Building brand engagement with Facebook
In the wake of the launch of 'The Social Network', a film about the founders of Facebook, it seems that marketers are facing up to the reality that social sites are changing how consumers discuss and view brands. Here, Howard Scott of digital agency Sequence offers several tips about the benefits that Facebook can provide for brands.
Many brands still look at Facebook as simply being 'a social community', and they don't take it seriously as a business tool, Scott argues. In fact, only 40% of brands in the Deloitte Top 50 have a Facebook presence, with only 24% managing to build an active community.
"Dismissing or under-utilising Facebook is a mistake because it has evolved into an intelligent consumer model that offers so much potential for savvy brands," warns Scott.
Some brands use their Facebook community as a customer engagement and research tool and even as a direct-sales channel.
Others have employed Facebook 'fan pages' for their customer relationship management (CRM) exercises. Examples of these include Dell, Domino's and Coca Cola, which are all committed to addressing customer concerns, and responding to fans' comments.
Increasingly, brands are using Facebook in a smarter way, and are reaping the rewards of this. Recently, for example, IKEA promoted the launch of a new store through a Facebook fan page. IKEA cleverly uploaded pictures of IKEA rooms and the first customer to tag their name in the picture won the product.
Lovefilm, meanwhile, uses its Facebook fan page to engage customers, post videos and run competitions, while Dove uses the social network as a research tool, recommending items to its fans, and then requesting feedback on those products.
These examples highlight that brands must to do more than simply having a presence on Facebook. The social network provides many opportunities to engage customers, present a more human 'brand personality', and of course to gather feedback from an engaged target audience.
Scott's top tips for making the most of Facebook in brand marketing iniatives include:
- Build a Fan page Facebook allows your brand to interact with fans through fan pages. These pages can be used by your business as a blog, a research tool or as a communication device to post messages, respond to issues and solve customer problems.
Fan pages also provide your brand with the opportunity to stream live events, post videos and pictures, offer coupons, and run polls and competitions. If your brand is not doing any of these things, you are under-performing on Facebook.
- Who likes your brand? Facebook has introduced a Like button that lets users share pages from a site to their Facebook profile with one click. You should implement 'Like' buttons on key pages of your own web site.
Doing this allows people to tag your website with a 'Like' which then shows up on their wall. Friends can see that link, click on it and be led directly to your page. This should be a priority for your brand, as it's simple to apply and allows customers to promote your brand for you.
- Facebook Recommends Your brand should consider implementing the 'Recommendations' Facebook plug-in, as this offers users personalised suggestions for products or pages on your site they might like. This button also enables your customers to publicly endorse your product or service on Facebook and share this with all their friends.
Customer recommendations are often a key marketing and sales tool for businesses, so ensure your brand is taking advantage of this.
- Has your brand logged into Facebook? Facebook Login shows profile pictures of users' friends who have signed up for your site. This tool is likely to become increasingly popular (especially with e-commerce web sites) as more people login to Facebook through web sites, and could be a powerful aid for your brand in spreading awareness and driving sales.
- Make sure your brand is in Credit. Facebook Credits are a virtual currency that users can employ to buy virtual goods on the Facebook platform. This provides the opportunity for your brand to sell products using Facebook Credits, turning your Facebook page into a revenue generator.
Taking a step further, you could even offer deals unique to Facebook, such as special offers and promotions. Credits opens up new ways for customers to engage with your brand on social networks, and you should be looking to take advantage of this.
"It is evident that Facebook provides brands with a number of new and innovative ways to engage customers, drive awareness and gain new revenue streams," concluded Scott. "Because of this, a brand should no longer dismiss Facebook as merely being a social community but instead try to embrace the tangible benefits it can provide."