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!