This year "your CEO will join Facebook," predicts the Razorfish Digital Outlook Report 09 published in early March. That may be true, but will your corporate Facebook presence translate into lasting brand recognition, real revenues, and deeper customer engagement?
Whether your Facebook presence comes across as just a passing fad, or acts as a real revenue driver and brand-building platform, depends on how you launch, manage, and update your company's Facebook marketing program. That's what it is today, a real marketing program. Every company that wants to reach new customers and connect with existing ones (OK, so that's every company) needs a Facebook page today.
But it's not enough to create a page for your company, plunk up a few links to press releases, and wait for "friends" and "fans" to arrive. Crafting an effective Facebook marketing program takes skill, planning, and more than a bit of patience.
First, you need a brand page. When you launch your page, make sure to follow a few tried-and-true tips to ensure that your brand comes across as relevant. (Facebook is helping a bit in this department by rolling out a new brand page format that more closely resembles regular user profile pages.) Anyone can start a page, but it takes an effort and continual stewardship of the page content to connect with a growing base of fans.
Build your fan base by giving people an incentive to join your page. Post relevant content, funny anecdotes, and special promotions that will keep fans coming back, and encourage them to recommend your fan page to friends. The best brand pages let fans upload photos and videos, offer entertaining updates and content, and engage people in personal conversations about why they love these products.
As you're establishing your brand's page content and fan base, start joining other groups and become a fan of related product and services pages. The best way to do this is to set up a dedicated user profile aligned with a key company executive or marketing team lead. As that person demonstrates commitment to other pages and related groups, your brand will become more visible throughout Facebook, more Facebook traffic will come to your own brand's page and, hopefully, more people will become fans.
Be sure to consider Facebook paid advertising as well. Although recent industry reports question the effectiveness of social network ads in general, Facebook recently announced upgrades to its ad-serving technology platform and audience targeting capabilities, allowing advertisers a wider range of demo, geo, and even psychographic targeting options. Second, Facebook's unique engagement ads provide a more interactive and flexible ad creative unit to agencies and advertisers seeking more direct response than a classic click. An example is an engagement ad that allows people to book a concert ticket.
While there isn't a magic formula to getting Facebook marketing right, the most successful brands have implemented a multifaceted strategy combining free pages and paid media placements. Even a simple foray into Facebook, if done authentically, goes a long way toward building customer engagement, boosting brand awareness, and encouraging more Facebook users to become your paying customers.
About the author: Clay McDaniel is a principal at Spring Creek Group. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org