Marketers give social thumbs up

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Marketers give social thumbs up
Marketers give social thumbs up
However, the recent move by Facebook that has most interested marketers has been its effort to reach out to ad agencies. While the company has primarily worked directly with brands, as it did with Bacardi, it is beginning to woo agencies as well. Earlier this year, Facebook created an agency relations team dedicated to advertiser outreach. In April, the company launched Facebook Studio, offering case studies of recent campaigns and examples of how marketers are using the site, as well as a series of Facebook Studio Live events (see sidebar below).


"In the last few months, the agency team has been much more proactive in reaching out to us, coming out to our office to share some of the best practices that they've seen," says Matt Wurst, director of digital communities for agency 360i. "They definitely seem to have recognized the need and the role that agencies are playing," though he adds that, "they're probably more focused on the paid media side than they are on the creative strategic side right now.


Balancing 'peaks and valleys'


Besides the viral campaigns and "flash" promotions aimed at grabbing attention, the day-to-day activities on a Facebook brand page play an important role in keeping audiences engaged. Wurst describes this as a "peaks and valleys strategy," where the "peaks" of heavy creative and paid media campaigns, including the use of Facebook's Sponsored Stories, bring in a burst of new users who are then maintained and supplemented through the "valleys" of steady posts, updates and fan interactions.


A survey of the Facebook pages of 30 leading national companies, conducted by Forrester Research, found that 86% had created multiple fan pages and cross-promoted them, while 93% used a vanity URL for the company Facebook page, such as facebook.com/
Bacardi, which helps boost the page in search results. A third-best practice Forrester found among top brands was promoting fan pages on the company website and vice versa.


"I think the one thing that surprised me most was that there is no secret, no way that these big brands are gaming the system," says Melissa Parrish, an analyst at Forrester Research and the author of the report. "It's the marketers who are playing to the strengths of the platform, and know that consumers are on there for a social experience." 


Master social media ROI

Measuring the value of marketing efforts on Facebook 
remains a mix of art and science. While most marketers agree that putting an exact value on the fans, shares or interaction on Facebook is difficult, they do express optimism that the Facebook ROI moment is not far off.

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NBC Universal's Facebook efforts reflect the value of managing numerous individual pages under one brand-wide umbrella. While each page for the company's dozens of shows and channels runs specific content and updates for the fans of brands such as 30 Rock, The Biggest Loser or Bravo, each also lists other NBC shows under its "likes," and occasionally posts content from the other pages, encouraging fan crossover. 


The coordination of the overall brand effort was illustrated during "Healthy Week" at NBC Universal in mid-May. In addition to the on-air programming that added themes about healthy living to their productions, NBC Universal tapped Buddy Media to create a tab on every one of its individual show pages. 


These included apps such as the "Go Healthy Pledge Maker," where visitors would commit to healthy changes in their lives, an area asking questions about favorite workout songs and stress relievers, as well as videos of healthy tips. The person running each page could add their own messages about Healthy Week, tailored for the show's audience.


"It's our goal to take this positive message and bring it to where the audience already is," says Debra Goetz, VP of Healthy at NBC Universal, who also oversees similar cross-platform efforts during Green is Universal, the company's environmental awareness week. "NBC's Facebook page just has 75,000 fans, but some our show pages have hundreds of thousands." 


The Forrester report also found that brands with a strong presence on Facebook posted at least once a day, including videos and rich content that draw in visitors. According to Forrester Research, the pages that frequently post this kind of rich content enjoy an average of 19 times more fans than those that do not. 


As demand for this kind of timely and customized content on Facebook has grown, marketers have rushed to fill the need. At the end of May, iCrossing launched Live Media Studio, which creates branded content including articles, interviews, tips, videos and infographics in real-time, tailored specifically to the audience the brand is trying to target. 


"It used to be that custom tabs on the Facebook pages were the main focus for marketers, but the users are tending to stay on the main news page," says Alisa Leonard, VP of strategy and planning at iCrossing. "Keeping fresh content there has become much 
more important."


Funny and interactive content has been central to AT&T's Facebook strategy. Looking to boost the sales of its smartphones, particularly to teens, AT&T launched its "Plead Your Case" campaign during the lead up to the holiday season last year. The promotion, developed with BBDO New York and Tool of North America, included customized videos featuring the fictional lawyer Roger Gideon, who would lay out the case with the utmost seriousness of why that user deserved a smartphone. 


Users could select which phone model they wanted and who would receive the message, as well as add in personal photos and information to make the video particularly memorable when it was posted to the parent's or friend's wall.


"It's something that kind of personifies our brand in a funny way, in a shticky way, that we think youth particularly can connect to," says Jenn Fischer, head of digital, social media and youth marketing at AT&T. "Facebook gives us a platform that neither AT&T nor the customers own, but we get together there and kind of talk and have a conversation."


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