Facebook and Audience Behavior

Nothing is more important than understanding your audience and their behavior. The best marketers start there and then create strategies to build awareness, consideration, sales, loyalty, and advocates for their brand (in that order).

Technology does not matter. How people use technology matters. Social media does not matter. How people use social media matters. Facebook does not matter. How people use Facebook matters.

How many times have we heard the proclamation “We need a Facebook page” without the deliverer having any insight as to how their audience will use the platform? What would provoke someone to “Like” their brand and even more important, stay engaged with the brand.

I can guarantee you I can get you one million fans/likes in a very short time … offer a free iPad to anyone that “likes” your Facebook page. So once you have one million fans, is that success, or is success getting as many “likes” as possible that stay engaged with your brand? Engaged fans – that is the audience behavior we want for success.

So how do you keep fans engaged? Well, the first thing is to keep the content fresh and continuously changing. You should try to change out content daily and let your fans know of the new content mentioning it on your wall posts. “Fan gating“ is a good way to increase your fans and keep them viewing your content on your Facebook tab. The tab should have exclusive content and is only viewable if a person “likes” your brand. Exclusive content can include unique articles, photos, polls, quizzes, videos, sweepstakes, image galleries, and other things of that sort.

The cadence (how often and when) of your postings has ramifications on your audience engaging with your brand. Other things that drive fan engagement is making sure you manage, moderate, and respond to comments on your wall, and prompting fans for their own UGC (user generated content) and letting fans decide on some aspects of your content by giving them choices. Buddy Media put out a good report titled “Strategies for Effective Facebook Wall Posts: A Statistical Review” which you can download to get some guidance.

At the end of the day, no one strategy fits all brands. You need to measure responses of your audience. You can use Facebook Insights to track fans and interactions over a period of time as well as some other parameters. (See “A Beginner’s Guide to Facebook Insights”) What Facebook Insights does not give you is Interactions per Fans. This is the most important number to track. Everyone wants to see a high number of fans, but this number is only important when looking at interactions/fans at the same time. Yes, you want to grow your fans, but grow with fans that engage with you. Another useful source is “How to Measure Facebook Page Engagement.”

Something else to think about is how users “experience” your brand on Facebook. The Facebook experience is very different than a website experience and understanding this is key. The main issue is that users typically experience your brand presence or are alerted to your new content on your Facebook tab from their newsfeed as opposed to going to the brand Facebook page wall. Thus, it is important to recognize that the individuals that “like” your brand may not go to your fan page. You either need to deliver compelling content on your wall (so it hits the individuals’ newsfeed) or alert your fan base of new content on your Facebook tab by mentioning it on your wall. You need to spark a reason why your fans should visit your Facebook page by posting compelling content on your tab. The tab can include exclusive content or interactive features such as polls or quizzes. You must be conscious to keep the contents fresh and updated on a regular basis if you have a Facebook tab.

There are a number of companies that can assist in the development of these tabs either as a service or providing tools for easy do-it-yourself implementation. Some companies worth checking out include Buddy Media, Shoutlet, North Social, and Involver.

You also need to integrate Facebook widgets on your content that appears on your website and/or blog. Hopefully you are aware of the Facebook “Like” button. By including this button on individual content posts you allow your readers to virtually broadcast that they enjoyed and “liked” the particular content piece to all their Facebook friends. So if someone reads your article, “likes it”, and has 150 friends on Facebook, they are referencing it to 150 peoples … nice advocacy.

Facebook also recently launched a “Send” button. The Facebook “send” makes it easier to notify your friends or family than email as you don’t have to remember email addresses, but simply look from a list of people in your social network.

Now, once again, I want to emphasize the importance of understanding audience behavior when they use these two buttons embedded in their content. When someone “likes” something, it is an expression and subconscious statement of who they are. “I like this band, movie, TV show, book, etc.” These declarations are personal bumper stickers. It is a broadcast and part of the formulation of one’s personal brand. As a brand, you need to determine how you play into this mix and entice someone to label themselves as “liking” your brand. Yes, you can get their attention and attraction by doing a sweepstake to get them to “like” you, but what will you do to provide continuous value to get them to build affinity for you, be part of your audience and ultimately become one of your advocates?

Use of “send” is a direct person to person, or person to group communication. When someone uses Facebook “send”, they are telling the recipient(s) “I thought of you and I think you will value this.”

While “like” may be viewed by more of the originator’s social graph, “send” is a stronger endorsement. Point is you need to understand how both can be used.

The Facebook scenarios I have walked through here are just one example of the imperativeness of understanding your audience, what they value, their behavior, and how they might use specific social media platforms. Yes, social media should be an extremely important part of your overall business and marketing strategy, planning, and execution, but you must understand your audiences’ behavior and how they will use the various social platforms you launch. You must measure response and continuously make tweaks in your execution to maximize key performance indicators.

So go ahead – kick some butt with your social implementations – but don’t just do it – think it, then do it, then measure it, then refine it. Continue the cycle.

Make it Happen!
Social Steve



Filed under behavior, brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, Facebook, marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

15 responses to “Facebook and Audience Behavior

  1. I have been telling people to back off the technology for ages, get used to who they want to talk to and where. Then monitor and listen to enable a better engaging activity to build the relationships needed.

    Glad you undlerlined that, how do you find the Send buttons? I am yet to see them in the UK and wait wth baited breath 🙂

  2. Bruce

    As always Steve – great post. So much more than just getting the fans. Engagement and interactions are two critical ongoing pieces to activating those fans into sharing within their social circle, that lead to purchase intent etc., that need to be continually refined.

  3. Another great post Steve. Though I believe brands may need to “tread lightly” with “Fan-Gating”. Take in point this recent overview from Smartbrief on the JCPenney campaign http://smartblogs.com/socialmedia/2011/03/22/spotlight-on-social-commerce-talking-stock-of-the-social-department-store/

    There has to be a real tangible reason for someone to “like” a brand otherwise the affiliation is worthless. Brands really need to think deeply on what they offer in value.

    • Thanks for the comments Derek.

      You bring up a very important point I emphasized – know how the audience is going to use the platform. In the case of JC Penny’s, their intent was the puchase of items. You would NEVER want to make your audience do an EXTRA step to buy something. Why make it harder to purchase? I do think “fan gating” or “like gating” (as they call it in the article) makes sense to drive loyalty (comes after purchase) by offering exclusive content for those users that “like” your brand.


  4. Steve:

    Good post. Thanks for reinforcing the concept of marketing to the customer, vs. simply hopping on board the Facebook craze. Facebook is critically important to brands, but has to be a part of the overall strategy, vs. the end game. Love your iPad example and the ability to get a lot of “likes”.

    Here’s a post I recently wrote for Digiday under their Hypebusters area, entitled “Your Facebook Fans are Worthless”. Similar guidance — Enjoy

  5. Hi Steve,

    Reading this and some of your other posts I cant help but think there needs to be a separation between our work and social life. Both can benefit from social networking and Web2.o tools. Facebook is great for keeping up with friends and I see your point with using it as a branding tool, but not for my colleagues and customers.
    From an enterprise or employer perspective it is even more problematic. We can hope our employees are getting the message right, but wouldn’t it be more efficient and safe in an environment the corporation can control, or at least monitor.
    With technology so readily available I shouldn’t need to “tweet” my marketing team a promotion reminder or have a facebook event for the VPs annual sales meeting, or Skype my boss about last weeks results.
    Demand for the utility and tools of social networks are clear for the corporate world.
    Imagine a platform that combines all the utility of Facebook, Skype, Twitter, AIM along with all the traditional communication tools in one private platform branded for the enterprise.
    Lets be in touch soon, Brgds, Ken Milman

    • Hey Ken,

      I use my Facebook presence for friends only – not even people I work with. I also manage some brand Facebook fanpages. The two worlds do not collide … I keep them separate. This is my point – understand how to use the tool and then use it to accomplish what you need to accomplish. But think this over first. I also think that a brand can integrate things to deliver an experience that feels like facebook, Skype, Twitter, AIM, and other platforms in one usewr experience.


  6. Steve,

    I am very impressed with the journey you are taking us on here. I am preparing Presence Films to start such a relationship with our audiences and am keenly reviewing the articles. Thanks so much. Regards David

    • David –

      Very kind words – thanks much – really appreciate it.

      I wish you and Presence Films nothing but great success connecting with your audience!


  7. Good stuff – I totally agree with people you about people jumping on the SM bandwagon without thinking through their overall communication strategy.

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