Many of the world's top brands are struggling with how to best leverage social media. One of the largest social media players is Facebook. Whether your company is new to Facebook or an early adopter, here are four essential tips for success:
1. Don't Ask for Too Much Info
Many marketers have mistakenly treated Facebook as a direct response mechanism. They view it as tool to build their database so that they can use alternate channels (e-mail, direct mail, outbound calling, etc.) to market to these individuals.
They're failing to realize the need to market to these users through the Facebook platform, not via traditional database channels. In other words, if someone becomes a "fan" of your brand in Facebook you'll send a marketing message to them through the Facebook inbox rather than sending an e-mail to their Yahoo/Gmail/Hotmail account or sending a catalog. Over time you may develop a trust to where the user will ask to be contacted by other means (e-mail, mail, phone, etc.), but you're doing your Facebook initiative a great disservice if you ask for too much information up front.
2. Be Timely
Social media obviously reflects societal behavior. Society's attention span has shrunk in large part due to the Internet's vast amount of information. Recognize this and ensure that your content is timely and digestible.
A good example of this is the application that has you answer a few questions about your personality and then spits back which "Sex and the City" character you're most like (I'm Charlotte).
They smartly launched this a few weeks prior to the release of the movie and had roughly 15,000 to 20,000 daily active users. They aren't infallible, however. The page still indicates that the movie is coming to theaters near you, even though the movie was released May 30.
Seth Goldstein, CEO of SocialMedia, when asked about an application's lifespan said: "An application is like a song. You rarely have a song that's popular forever. Bands are popular, singers are popular."
3. Don't Spam
Part of Facebook's usefulness is that it alerts friends when a change occurs: modifying status, uploading new photos, or downloading a game. These updates appear on a user's homepage.
Many companies launched applications. An application is a tiny functional widget -- one of the more popular ones allows you to play Scrabble in real time against your friends. Learning that homepage updates via the mini-feed occur whenever there is a small change in the application (i.e., Fernando is now playing Scrabble); marketers, wanting to be top of mind, started sending tons of updates. This is the same as spam. Just as Internet users don't like spam in their e-mail inbox, people don't like it in their Facebook updates either.
If you have something useful, people in Facebook will quickly learn of it; spamming will only hurt you as people will remove the application if they find it annoying. So, be mindful of what your application is updating in the mini-feed.
4. Have Good Usability
Some marketers' first take on Facebook is to use it as a traffic driver to their brand's site. Facebook can definitely increase traffic to a site. However, there's a right and wrong way to go about doing this.
The Facebook user wants to stay in the Facebook environment to accomplish their task 80 percent of the time. It's imperative when using external links to make the links obvious -- i.e., http://www.examplebrand.com -- as well as easy to find; no sense in losing traffic if a person actually wants to visit your brand's site.
As you develop various group pages, fan pages, applications, etc., it's important that they're all interlinked. For example, if I'm on the Budweiser fan page and then go into a Budweiser developed application that humorously tells me what type of beer my personality emulates, make sure there's prominent navigation back to the Budweiser fan page. Too many applications/group pages don't link back to the point of origination, which in this example is the Budweiser fan page.
However, circling back to being timely, Budweiser may now need to link to their new Belgium owner.
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