You know the deal. Getting likes on Facebook is great. Getting comments on Facebook is even better. Having people share stuff like videos and images is the best. Techies know sharing increases EdgeRank scores. Marketers know sharing increases engagement.
Whoever you are and however you want to tell your Facebook success story, great campaigns boil down to obtaining one key objective: Finding quality people who want to continually interact with the brand faster and cheaper than the competitors can. That translates to having an engaging brand persona (voice) to keep people wanting to hang around and learning to use targeted ad support and testing for promotions, contests, and the like.
Dos Equis, Mercedes, Apple, and a few others—I notice their ads, open their emails, seek them out online, like them on Facebook, and generally hang out with them more than other brands. What they have in common is that the personalities are believable, relevant, and make an emotional connection with consumers. They don't talk about the same things or push the same offers repeatedly because they know it would turn people off. They're very dynamic with their personalities, and this type of engagement translates to shares and comments that friends and family see on Facebook.
According to Forrester Research, 70 percent of consumers trust brand recommendations from friends and family, but only 10 percent trust advertising. That's a huge reason brands need to stay likeable. The more likeable your brand is translates directly to how trusted your brand is perceived to be. As you build out your brand's persona, here are some things to consider.
1. Figure out your brand's personality and voice. It doesn't matter what it is you just have to stay true to it. Be authentic and consistent. This will shape design, post content, contests, and how community managers interact with customers day-to-day. For example, brands like Old Spice, Gap, and Dos Equis are extremely edgy. Their voice is the same across everything they do and people expect and appreciate that. It's important to realize that for some brands this will not be easy. It may take a few failures to find what works and resonates with your fans. When you do amazing things start to happen.
2. Listen to your fans. Really listen to them. Then act on what you learned. As marketers you have literally hundreds of social media listening tools at your fingertips that you can use to tap into how your brands are playing across multiple social platforms. But it's what you do with that information that counts. Blockbuster is a great example of a failure to listen to brand loyalists. In the months leading up to filing for bankruptcy one of the number one complaints was about late fees. Had Blockbuster listened to its fans early enough they may have been able to pivot their business to a model that worked to better position and fend off competitors.
3. Be responsive, timely and relevant. All the time. People are impatient and our digital world has done nothing but increase expectations that we all live in an on-demand world. 24/7/365 we expect service when we need it. If you treat your social media channels like a traditional customer service line with set hours of operation you're just asking for failure. Unless your brand personality expressly says you are “not an immediate response kind of brand,” err towards the side of timely responses in all channels. Old Navy does a great job of monitoring Facebook and Twitter for opportunities to interact with customers. For some companies it may not be possible to respond to every comment every time, but software can help. For those that can respond in a timely manner, remember to be human about it. Canned or auto responses are sometimes necessary, but try to avoid them whenever possible. Your fans will know and thank you back.
Attract and engage
Now that you've built out your personality and are actively participating with your fan base, how can you get people to come to the party? While campaigns can grow organically, it's often faster and more efficient to tap into targeted Facebook ad support. Sure it's advertising, but the “targeted” part is really what sets Facebook apart from other social networking platforms. If you knowingly target users who are more likely to engage with your brand from the start you can quickly build a higher-quality fan base that will continue engaging even when a campaign or contest ends.
A great example of a company that has had success with this model is Tough Mudder, a New York-based event series that hosts nation wide obstacle-course runs. The organization credits most of its success as a startup to Facebook advertising that got it noticed. Consider the following as you start to home in on your advertising techniques.
- Create ad segments that are highly targeted. Consider separating by gender, age, geo, and other demographics. You can get really granular by targeting competitor brand fans, lifestyles, etc. These smaller, highly targeted segments can result in increased relevancy and more cost-effective Facebook advertising.
- As with any advertising, make sure the messaging matches the segments. Use custom content and images for each. You'll get better results.
- Monitor and test the heck out of everything you do. Watch for ad frequency levels higher than 8-10 to reduce wear, and continually roll in new tests throughout campaigns to optimize performance.
Todd LaBeau is VP and director of interactive at Lindsay, Stone and Briggs.