When I talk to clients, I can feel that a lot of them are curious about Facebook and Twitter, but they don't really have any idea about how to incorporate it into their marketing practice.
On March 3 2010 I attended the event 'Social Media in your marketing strategy: strategy & approach' by the Belgian Marketing Foundation. I heard some interesting ideas bouncing around there about social media (some vague ones, too - social media is still new, and it's a bit of a free for all at the moment). But what struck me most was this: the examples yesterday showed again that in order to work out a decent social media strategy, you need a decent marketing strategy, a "story". For example, TOMS shoes gives a pair of shoes away to a child in the third world for every pair a customer buys.
Tying this in with the option to publish your purchase on Twitter and Facebook: that's a good use of Facebook and Twitter. Customers can brag about being hip and philantropic at the same time. But everything starts with the "story": the fact that by purchasing a pair of shoes, you are doing the right thing. The feelgood factor is built in, long before any social media mix is cooked up.
That being said, Facebook really is the ultimate opting in tool for public relations or permission marketing in B2C communication. If your customers want to become a fan of your brand, they are giving you the permission to contact them over and over again. If you can come up with something interesting to say, you can post a status update about your brand every day, or even multiple times a day if you're a news brand.
It seems that people are actually eager to receive marketing by brands that they already adopted: the mere fact of being a customer is enough for some people to friend a brand. Others need the incentive of "exclusive deals or offers", and as Decrock pointed out, the "exclusive" part is very important here. If you can add some interesting content to surround your brand - news stories that tie into your brand or your target audience, for instance - your Facebook page will probably attract a strong following. Note: the research is obviously about B2C brands, as B2B permission marketing would be much more geared towards service, support and interesting content in general.
Facebook is a place where people let off some steam with their friends. It's a casual place filled with (sometimes adolescent and goofy) humor. It's not for "dry" communication. It's a feelgood place, filled with emotion: it's a place where we tell people about our sick cat, where we post our holiday pics and where we discuss the death of Michael Jackson. Your communication should fit in: you have to aim to integrate your brand in a rich texture of content that enriches your brand. If you have a line of ski wear, post content about the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and other important venues or developments in skiing. And make sure it has the right tone of voice to complement your brand. Blogging or Facebooking about the Olympics doesn't need to be about rankings and medals - it's probably a better idea to post stuff about Lindsey Vonn's bad hair day.
Unfortunately, this is where most marketing departments for consumer brands fail: they forget that actually weaving this rich texture is pretty labor intensive. Social media are a very cheap channel, but the actual broadcasting (by which I mean: searching, filtering and adding content) has always been a very expensive activity, and will continue to be on social media like Facebook and Twitter.
More importantly, your communication should be diversified to the different segments in your customer base. Facebook is not the place to communicate about your corporate brand. It's definitely for communication around your consumer brands.
The Coca Cola Company has a grand total of 173 fans on Facebook. The drink Coca Cola has 3 750 636 fans! Fanta has - well, Fanta has more than 500 fan groups, each with something between 500 and 80 000 fans. Fanta's marketing department was apparently late to launch itself on Facebook, and now the community has taken the communication about Fanta in its own hands. (Whether this is a good thing is a subject for another blog post.)
It goes without saying that if you decide to move your brand onto Facebook, you should take care to mention your Facebook fanpage in all your communication, like e-mails, flyers, brochures, website, press releases, etcetera.
If you have any suggestions to make this article even more relevant, or any questions about using Facebook for your brand, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment.
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