Listen Up – You were told in school to keep your mouth shut, pay attention, listen, and learn. The same thing applies if you want to be the teacher’s pet and the most popular kid in school…listen to the community.
You may have heard by now that folks spend more time on Facebook than any other website. By a whole lot!
To be more precise, it’s 53.5 billion minutes a month on the world’s largest social networking site.
When Zuck announced at F8 – the Facebook developer’s conference – that the site now had more than 800 million citizens, he said he wanted them to be even more involved with the Site. In fact, he wanted Facebook to become the destination where people tell the story of their life.
We, and you, might think that’s over sharing, but the growing community is changing the way companies relate with customers.
Companies are establishing their Facebook pages in record numbers and feeling their way along as they build, expand, leverage those relationships.
No one is exactly certain how much all those eyeballs and likes are worth.
It’s still too early to say how much a Facebook friend and his/her recommendation can generate, but that’s not inhibiting the rush to be there.
Companies like Coke, Starbucks, Nutella, Papa John’s, Pringles, Skittles, Zynga, Zappos, Electronic Arts feel it’s worth the effort.
While Zynga racked up more than $290 million last year from their visitors/users, others have determined how much their fans are worth to the company:
- Starbucks – $1.20 per fan
- Coke – $0.96 per fan
- Pringles – $0.02 per fan
- Adidas – $2.40 per fan
- Red Bull – $1.14 per fan
That’s because a positive online brand experience creates loyal customers. They in turn tell friends and family about the brand and the sphere of influence grows.
Companies – large and small – are finding that a closer relationship with customers and potential customers affect not just sales but the entire business.
Pays Off – Facebook company/product pages provide companies/brands with an excellent way to engage with consumers and help them become brand advocates. Having consumers who Like you is the first step. In fact, that’s when the real work begins. Source – Forrester Consulting
Being active on Facebook has a tangible effect on a company’s sales – 87 percent of the people who search for information on products/services reinforced their purchasing decision, according to the Cone Online Influence Trend Tracker.
Many firms are also active on Facebook as a means of countering or nullifying online information – 80 percent of the people changed their buying decision because of negative online information.
The bottom line is a solid fan base is good for business. But it goes way beyond simply asking folks to tap the Like button so you can show your boss how many Facebookers like your brand.
They expect something in return!
Something in Return – Getting a few thousand people to Like your brand takes an overall plan and careful execution. Increasingly, they want to be more engaged with the company/brand as well. Source – ExactTarget
That’s when the work begins…getting and keeping Facebook fans.
The task isn’t as daunting as it looks:
- Your company/brand already has an on-line presence – newsletter, website, publicity/ad presence – use these to build traffic to your Facebook page.
- Use the free tools that are available like Facebook Questions that lets you ask questions and your company name, page link are added. For best results ask questions a wide range of people care about – avoid things like politics and religion which can make enemies on all sides of the subject.
- Use inexpensive, effective Facebook ads that are targeted at your niche market. This is becoming especially effective for regional and local firms because the information is tailored to people who can act on it, take advantage of it.
- Keep your Facebook page relevant so visitors see what fans are getting for “Liking” your page. Show them the special fan-only coupons, specials, product/news updates. If the information is relevant, they’ll send it to their news feeds.
- Conduct contests, promotions, special events that attract attention; and when they win the worthwhile/meaningful prize, share the news, information with others. Let them share the information with other Facebookers.
- Let your fans become your marketing, publicity agents by encouraging them to tell their experience with your product/service, giving them – and you – positive exposure.
- Develop an exclusive fan area where Like members have access to special fan-only promos, contests, events, activities
- Whether Facebookers click the Like button or not, keep your content, your news, your information fresh. Keep developing and offering ideas, how-tos, offers, industry/company/product news and summaries that encourage people to return again and again as well as post links to their Facebook pages.
Is it really worth all that effort?
Value of the Effort
Study after study shows that people have been influenced to buy – or not buy – a product or service based on their online experience.
Nearly half of these people share the information – good or bad – with others in their community. Just remember that no matter what you do, there will be millions (you hope) who visit your page, some very regularly, who simply won’t become a fan and hit the Like button.
There are a lot of things people like, but they don’t slap an “I Like” sticker on all of them. It doesn’t mean they dislike you. They just aren’t willing to give you permission to use their Like.
Why Not – There are a lot of reasons Facebookers won’t “Like” a company or product. Sometimes it’s as simple as they feel it is some type of endorsement. Other times, they really don’t like the company or product. And today, it doesn’t take much for people to Unlike you. Source – ExactTarget
That’s okay too, as long as they come online to get product information, read the reviews, check out the ratings, read the product/service articles, ask others in their Facebook friend circles and….buy.
Remember the goal isn’t to rack up as many Facebook “Likes” as you can to show your boss how good you are, but to build relationships with people out there and maintain, strengthen, expand those relationships.
It’s always better to error on the side of caution so people don’t “Unlike” you.
Turning Up the Heat – The great thing about social media is that instantly people can spread news, information around the globe. Yes, that includes bad news too.
Don’t jump on Facebook just because everyone else is there.
Remember what your mother said, “If everyone else was jumping off the cliff, would you do it to?”
Approach your Facebook page just like you did when you built your website, when you joined online forums, when you joined your club, when you entered a new class, started a new job.
It won’t take you long to see the mistakes of others and that’s far easier than learning from experience…don’t let ‘em kid you, that’s no fun!
Avoid the obvious:
- The key reason people “Unlike” is that the person or brand posts too often. One or two posts a day is sufficient as long as the posting is interesting, informative, helpful
- Don’t litter your Facebook feed with your Tweets because not everyone cares about your every thought and Facebook is for news, information people can read and use
- Set a default landing tab with a clear call to action.
- Schedule your updates, especially if you’re using a third-party API because Facebook lumps them together into just one update so engagement can drop by 70 percent
- Don’t post the same type of content continually because Facebook EdgeRank will manage your post impressions based on affinity, weight, time decay
- Don’t delete fans’ posts on your wall. If it’s a negative or “uncomfortable” post, talk with the fan – offline if possible – and resolve the situation. Remember, your Facebook page is on a public forum. Hiding the problem or ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. Usually that makes things worse
- Avoid the hard sell. The objective of your Facebook page is to build and extend relationships. Want to sell em? Point the fans to your website for your specials, your sales
- Encourage – don’t eliminate – your fans’ ability to post comments. Your Facebook page is there to engage with customers and prospects. That usually happens first by listening. At least that’s the way it works in our home
- Social media is so important to management today that people are hired for the sole purpose of increasing Facebook Likes, Twitter followers. Raw numbers are kinda’ important but it’s more important to know how much interaction you’re having with your fans and the substance of that interaction. Michael Jackson has 11 M+, Mafia Wars has 6.5M+, Vin Diesel has 7M+, Megan Fox has 6M+. Does that mean anything to you? Heck, does it mean anything to them?
- Have a set of community rules and guidelines because remember it’s your place of business, your house; so people understand that people have to be sensitive to others ideas, opinions and that items like profanity, cyberbullying and similar actions aren’t tolerated, allowed
- When community members are carrying on a conversation, don’t interrupt them unless the “discussion” gets out of hand. Instead, wait for the appropriate moment and provide expert assistance to stimulate positive conversations
Just remember there’s no almighty Facebook expert out there. He or she is just like you, using the tools that are increasingly available and searching for just the right mixture to build their fan base(s).
Watch what others are doing right, wrong. Listen. Learn.