Here's a way to think of the opportunity: Facebook is it's own microcosm within the internet with 500 million users and more time spent than Google. Having a bold and clear presentation of your brand in this "corner" of the internet is increasingly critical to the brand experience (whether you are a mom and pop shop or a multi-national corporation). Many companies are currently tagging their mass and ecommerce media campaigns with "visit us on Facebook". While I applaud the awareness and the drive to acquire fanbase, the fact is that most pages offer no compelling content and the brand "experience" is often weak. To miss this as an opportunity, is actually damaging to your business.
Let's identify three tiers of Facebook execution:
For many brands, there may not be a reason to make Facebook a highly central element or driver of their campaigns. But these brands, often more commodity in nature, should consider nailing the basics of integrated branding. At a base level, your facebook page should be a planned and calendarized component of your overall marketing planning process. Whenever your team is planning a campaign for in-store, outdoor, direct mail, email, paid search and other channels as an integrated plan… someone should be "filling in" the execution for Facebook.
For a Base tier of Facebook Execution, a brand should:
1) Ensure that the visual content, from the Page Icon (avatar) on the upper left to the images they might keep in their photo section are "on brand" and "on campaign" for that time period.
2) Review analytics quarterly and set some basic goals for Fanbase.
3) Establish some rules regarding frequency, tone and how they will manage customer postings. NOTE: If you can't manage the stream of wall posts by visitors (personnel, etc.) you should consider simply turning off the ability to post.
4) Leverage simple tools to track and manage their Wall Posts and to handle comments posted. Many of these are free. Or provided as a part of a service.
5) Consider creating new Custom Tabs using FBML (as long as it is still offered). Use these tabs to give consumers a sneak peek into what's happening next on your site or in your store. You can bring an image that is 740 pt wide and very long and set it as your default.
In summary, brands must step up to the Base level and engage or they risk negative impact to their brand equity.
The strategic value of the Facebook Fanpage is primarily as a way to gain permission to enter a consumer's feed. At this tier of execution, a brand may not be highly "lifestyle" in nature but leadership has identified that the Facebook consumer is on-brand. So the goal is to capture fans and then leverage the promotional power of the permission to post to that consumer's wall. That's it. I would respectfully submit that for most brands the strategic goal is NOT to drive people to their fanpage but to their website for commerce. But, you can't get the feed without a consumer clicking "like" on your fanpage. So, what's it going to take?
1) Develop valuable content on your Facebook page. If a consumer is considering your brand as a prospect, they are looking to see how you treat your insiders. As a prior or existing customer, they are seeking some sort of added value. This can be in the form of updates on products (new, clearance, etc.) or trends in the general associated industry/arena of the company. Helpful tips and other editorial information is also the right space for this area.
2) Consider adding a shop tab (if your business sells products online, this will allow customers to shop from your site). Check out the Wishpot execution on StockNGo's fanpage. This drives visitors back to shop your site.
3) Consider adding some product feeds (product images and links to buy) in your Facebook Wall Posts. Optimally the creative text and title of the post should explain the "so what" factor to the consumer. What's so special about this product.
4) Increase frequency of wall posts. Frequency of posting should be more frequent for brands seeking Advantage level. But they must review their Facebook Insights for trends regarding wall post opt-outs.
5) Launch unique promotions on Facebook. Consumers tell us through surveys and their actions that they are seeking promotions on Facebook. These promotions don't need to be a deeper discount but should be unique. Why? You are asking a consumer to give you value (permission to access them through a more private and personal medium)… in return you will find that you need to offer something unique, a special token of the extra value you have received. This must also be maintained.
6) Target influencers within your current file as a way to reach their friends and network. Influencers that "like" your brand can take your news feed and comment on it or "like" it thereby increasing it's viral distribution across FB. This Earned Media is worth more than a billboard but it comes with a price of time, effort and in some cases promotional investment. Use Bit.Ly tags to track and understand the traffic from specific campaigns back to your site. Consider using data overlays from Rapleaf or others to understand the Top Influencers within your email file… these are the customers that should be getting occasional Facebook related campaigns.
In summary, Advantage is a tier for brands that want to get competitive advantage from Facebook. It takes more effort but there are far more rewards.
At the elite level, a brand is putting Facebook more front and center in their strategy. Facebook might be more important due to the type of product (e.g. social gaming) or due to the type of consumer. Also, brands that have a strong "lifestyle" component should consider closely whether Facebook should be an Elite execution. Many larger companies have launched community or social network functionality on their websites. It is my opinion that most brands should reconsider that investment and pour it into a bolder Facebook play. Why ask a consumer to join yet another social network or community when they can use the core platform of Facebook but still feel that they are in a closed sub-community of your brand.
1) CrowdSourcing of information is a key campaign type when you are elite. For example, Cabela's will often ask their community on Facebook to share their hunting experiences regarding specific types of hunting during key times of the year. Their brand facilitates a full lifestyle so consumers are willing and eager to connect with others who share their passions. They want to learn from others in the community. Brands can use survey tools from numerous companies including Wildfire, Votigo, etc.
2) Use Likegating techniques to convert visitors to brand fans. This technique involves offering a special value or content to consumers that is accessible after liking the page.
3) Develop customized games that your consumers can play and share. Office Max had an incredible execution of a multi-game application on Facebook for the holidays. These were true games with points and levels. However, brands can now execute smaller, less costly versions of these same executions. Combine the game with your branding and a promotion to engage customers in your brand… optimally the game has viral components embedded. Here's my plug: Social Shopping Labs develops and supports brand and promotion infused social games on your Facebook Page.
4) Frequency of wall posts should be most aggressive for elite executions. But make sure you are offering value.
Keep in mind that there are many examples of products that should be "commodity" but choose to create a lifestyle… Check out the Marmite fan page… this is some pretty nasty tasting spread that you put on toast but users are fanatics. 500,000 fans! Wow. Compare with Zappos at 90,000. If you want to go ELITE, you can get there with any brand but it's easier with brands that bring that lifestyle swing.
There are numerous other opportunities, too many to list, but I hope that you find this breakout of tiers helpful. Start with your strategy and goal setting, then dive in. Call us at SSL if we can help. Good Luck!