“We’ve got to be doing social media!” is a cry going up by marketers across the country. As media habits change, companies are getting desperate to engage customers and create loyalty. They follow the eyeballs and jump into the latest trends for fear that their competitors will get there first.
What are they getting out of it? Most of them aren’t getting much. Take Facebook, the current behemoth of social networks with over 400 million members. Their statistics show members become ‘fans’ of four pages per month, yet a recent study showed 77 percent of these pages had less than a 1,000 fans. The social media monitoring and analytics firm Sysomos did a breakdown of fan site membership and found the vast bulk of pages had between 100 and 1000 fans. In fact, less than 4% have more than 10,000 fans and only .047% have more than one million fans.
As of March 31, 2010 only two of the top ten fan pages were corporate, and being Facebook itself and the ubiquitous Mafia Wars, probably shouldn’t even count. Only two consumer products (savvy marketers Starbucks and Coca-Cola) cracked the top 20. Now most companies don’t need to compete with “I [heart] Sleep” to be successful in social networking, but there are a few things you can do to separate yourself from the bulk of ‘friendless’ fan pages.
Give them something special
People want more than the ability to tell their Facebook friends that “they love widgets.” Respect that connection and return their loyalty. Offer discount codes or printable coupons, or even products and promotions that are only available through the fan site.
If you have a visible product, give your fans the opportunity to share their experience by letting them post pictures or video of themselves and your products. Or simply share pictures of your events or product features
Give them better access
Becoming a fan implies active participation with your company or products, you should offer your fans a heightened brand experience that they can’t get by being a passive observer. Make them feel like they are getting behind the scenes and actually have access to things others don’t. Ask for (and listen to) their opinions, invite them to try or test your products, ask them what they’d like to see in your products. As a warning, do not do this if you have no intention of listening, online forums are quick at spotting frauds and vocal about exposing hypocrites.
Create an open exchange
More than just having a dialogue between you and your fans, members prefer pages that house great conversations between members. There is inherent credibility in recommendations from other members, new ways to use or customize your products, and personal connections made with brands in ways that top-down marketing could never do. Again, this free exchange comes with a loss of control and should only be done if you are comfortable with that.
Make People Feel Part Of Something
Most join Facebook fan pages because of their relationship with the brand. The idea being that they want to align themselves with this company to support the brand or to feel part of something. If you’re brand isn’t so strong on it’s own, perhaps it’s worth finding a way to attach yourself to something else people already love. Over five million people [heart] sleep, and just over 2,500 are fans of Serta mattresses. I wonder how happy that 5 million would be sleeping on the floor? There is nothing false or disingenuous about aligning yourself with your products benefit. If there were, mainstream advertising would have been in trouble long before now.
You’ve worked too hard on building your brand to fall short on sharing the brand experience. Just keep in mind these few key concepts to separate yourself from your competitors, and the 23 fan pages about saying ‘gesundheit’ when your dog sneezes.
At the Whirli-Gig Brand Lab we understand that no experiment is complete without rigorous testing. So please let us know what your observations are in this field. Our technicians are standing by, and will spare no effort in our relentless pursuit of truth in branding.