Brands: It’s not enough to be liked

Imagine a company that has upscale retail locations around the United States receiving tens of thousands of customer visits. Now imagine not having anyone there to greet and interact with those customers. What’s the point of the storefront?

Facebook fan pages are much the same thing. But only 0.2 to 2 percent of fans go back to a page. Why? Because there is nothing going on that interests them.

Fan pages are a unique marketing canvas to connect with avid consumers. Yet some brands are terribly underutilizing these pages, making them basically brochureware repositories — essentially inviting customers in but not engaging them or giving them an incentive to return. More so, they don’t understand what their customers want from them. Fans may “like” the page, but what good is it really doing the company or its customers?

Other brands are working harder to tap their pages’ potential, inviting fans to post on the page, using brand-generated posts to ask them questions, and offering promotions that capitalize on the fan base’s affinity. The fan page becomes a focus group that can be mined for consumer insights, which can feed back to content creation, stage gate development and campaign tracking. It isn’t the “like” that matters; what matters is creating conversations to understand the consumer.

A two-prong approach of audience discovery and competitive analysis can help uncover what motivates and energizes your consumers.

Audience discovery is the use of social data to segment those who talk about your brand into their affinities. When you understand your audience, you can tailor the message and campaign to generate more fan attention. And if you understand what to do with your fan page, you can give it a new place in your owned media platforms. Rather than investing in media properties that become more expensive as they become successful, you’re now on your way to developing owned media that increases in value the more it’s used.

What do your consumers want from you – coupons, product updates, cutting-edge video, exclusive deals or contests? What are they interested in – sports, music, TV? Do they care about your brand affiliations or sponsorships? A “like” is a passive response to content, while a comment is engagement.

Brands need to mine competitors’ fan pages for insights. Competitive analysis provides insight into what your fans and their friends find engaging on other brands’ sites. What do your fans like on the competitor sites? Are your competitors treating your fans in ways that provide an edge over your company?

If you were running a bricks and mortar store, you’d expect your floor people to find out what customers want when they come in the door. In the same way, audience discovery and competitive analysis can help you be in sync with your Facebook fans. Knowing their interests can help you establish a road map to effective fan engagement. You can then repeat the analysis periodically to capture nuances and shifts in fan interests. Now that’s something you and your customers will really love.

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