There is no question customers are on Facebook, talking about your brand and products, influencing and being influenced. Nearly one in five shoppers search their social networks for information before making a purchase. Most brands now recognize the need to “fish where the fish are.” But how to fish is still in question. Most branded Facebook pages still seem only to check a box on a marketer’s checklist. Upload a logo, post some pictures, attract fans: check. Fish where the fish are: check. To be effective on Facebook, brands need a deeper strategy. Here are three Facebook truths to keep in mind before beginning to build yours.

  1. Facebook is not a strategy. It is a tool within your larger brand strategy. Facebook engagement should fit into your overall customer engagement strategy, marketing, and business goals – and should be measured using the same metrics.
  2. Facebook is not a popularity contest. It may seem like the brand with the most fans wins, but gathering a large number of fans is not an end goal – it is simply an enabler. Facebook fans are like email newsletter subscribers – it is permission marketing, simply an opportunity to engage customers. It is the quality of this engagement that drives results.
  3. Facebook is not a megaphone. It’s not a one-way channel, like a TV spot or banner ad. Facebook is a conversation, and it already started. If your Facebook page is a one-way stream of discount codes and product callouts, you’re basically crashing a party to hand out coupons. And you’re missing out on a chance to build a relationship with your customers beyond a one-way broadcast.

Recognizing these truths, many brands’ Facebook strategies have matured enough to see the need for conversations. Still, most brands are doing this by engaging customers one on one – usually through problem solving and customer support. Not only does turning your Facebook page into a call center and create lots of noise (often irrelevant to other visitors), it encourages posts that aren’t usually the type of content you want dominating your wall. Responding to customer complaints does show others you are listening, but if that’s all you are doing, visitors may look for brands whose customers have less to complain about.

So, now what? How do you start conversations on Facebook that drive real business results – increased sales, decreased returns, higher customer satisfaction and loyalty? Here are three tips to get started.

  1. Give conversations a product context. Users expect a conversation on Facebook, yet you want to drive business results. One way to meet both expectations is to encourage customers to talk to each other about your products, and one powerful way to spark these conversations is by actively inviting users to share customer knowledge, experiences and reviews on your Facebook page.
  2. Give your advocates a bigger audience. Every customer can be an influencer, and Facebook can be a wonderful platform for connecting your advocates with a bigger audience to increase their influence. Our client TurboTax asked customers to post reviews on Facebook, and found that consumers were four times more likely to click on these posted reviews than on an ad. Additionally, 80% of people who clicked through to the TurboTax website hadn’t used TurboTax before. Syndicate customer reviews and stories collected on Facebook back to your ecommerce site, and vice versa, to spread your advocates’ influence as far as possible.
  3. Drive customers from Facebook back to your site to buy. You are fishing where the fish are; now bring them home to cook them (so goes the crude analogy). While some Facebook users may indicate a reluctance to buy on the social network, this preference may change. For now you can bring customers from Facebook directly to your site. Keep product pages one click away from customer reviews to send Facebook-influenced shoppers directly to your purchase path. Our client Benefit Cosmetics includes a “Buy it now!” button with their product reviews on Facebook, sending customers directly to the product they are looking for.

To truly leverage Facebook’s potential, marketers must recognize the conversational context of the network, while simultaneously directing conversations toward products in ways that convert.

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  • http://www.webemphasis.com/fashion-accessories-jewellery-store Jewellery Website Design

    I love Facebook all servces and thanks for ths post, t has been very helpful to me.

  • http://twitter.com/social_Xplosion social Xplosion

    Good post. Facebook, or all socal meda, s most successful when focusng on buldng relatonshps rather than pushng sales. Buldng the relatonshp wll strengthen your brand over tme.

  • http://japangold.blogspot.com/ Mario

    Spot on about Facebook strategy and t s true about fb not a megaphone.

  • http://twitter.com/txTDM Tara DeMarco

    Great pont here, too! You’re rght, gettng management buy-n wll be especally dffcult for brands whose products aren’t the best. In those cases, showng management how to embrace the negatve feedback and use t to mprove ther products s mportant. See:
    http://www.bazaarvoce.com/resources/case-studes/entre-organzaton-ralles-mprove-product-ratngs-sales

    Agree that t takes more than a few hours a week to run an effectve, engagng Facebook communty. That’s one of the benefts of tools lke revews on Facebook – you can crowdsource engagement, lettng customers engage each other.

    Thanks for commentng!

  • Anonymous

    Great ponts.

    One thng to keep n mnd though s that you must be prepared to staff the effort. Many FB pages are one-way communcatons because management wants to be there, but sn’t prepared to properly staff t. There are many cases of socal meda staffs of one or even part tmers. You can’t hold numerous conversatons, serve as an offcal voce/authorty and be a customer servce rep as a sngle employee. Not only does ths create a weak lnk n the system (what f you’re sck for a couple days?), but t begs the bgger strategc queston: If FB s about engagng wth customers, s management ready for t? If you ask for revews and you know your product sn’t great, are you ready to answer and respond to the negatve remarks? Wll management be wllng to have that on ther FB page for all to see? A lot of the problems we see n how socal stes are used stems from management’s fear of the unknown. The tactcal people on staff sense ths and wll refran from dong anythng onlne that mght cause an uproar nternally even though externally t creates engagement.

    I’m not tryng to make excuses, but these types of real world ssues keep people from dong what they know s the rght thng to do n the long run. Better communcaton wth management s key as s gettng management nvolved beyond a growng trend lne of new lkes.

  • http://twitter.com/AmandaVega Amanda Vega

    In complete agreement wth your comments on our post ths week http://www.amandavegablog.com and love ths one. Manly I lke the sentment that “he wth the most fans does NOT wn.” We see ths wth major clents all of the tme – chasng bodes and numbers lke they do TV eyeballs, whle never once truly wantng to engage wth the users/fans/followers other than to shove another message down ther throat. I cannot tell you how often n a meetng we are asked to “control the message” rather than “pay attenton to the customer.”

  • guest

    I was gong to post my experence of FB and consumer pages but ths text block doesn’t move after 5 lnes of text. I wll admt I was on FB from the begnnng and to be honest , company pages were borng, just ads but havng looked at the QVC_UK page, I have see t has evolved nto a real communty. Now the communty just need to better products to see that QVC -UK s actually lstenng. Now I can’t seeee what I am wrtng so I wll stop there.

    that th

  • Ellamelton

    Love the part about fb not a megaphone!
    As a consumer I want and now expect engagement f a brand s usng socal meda. Don’t be a dgtal telemarketer wth no ears.