It’s all very well having a Facebook page bulging at the seams with “Likes”, but what does the brand do to keep those people coming back for more? Keeping informed about special offers may drive many to “Like” the brand, but it doesn’t mean that they will engage with the brand, or even visit the page occasionally.
Brands have to invest more effort encouraging their fan base to participate than it took to get them there. A well timed competition from an already popular brand can create an impressive spike in “Like” numbers, but the effort must be made to keep these people coming back for more, or the “Like” will be just a number.
Brands have to…
Engagement doesn’t just mean conversations between brands and fans – although, of course, that is a big part of it. A brand is successfully engaging its fans when it keeps them returning to the page, viewing content and possibly contributing content of their own.
One of the best ways to do this is to provide fans with an enjoyable experience. The Starbucks UK page has a cute app that lets you customise a Frappuccino and view its nutritional content. Okay, so its hardly going to inspire World of Warcraft levels of addiction, but let me tell you it made me desperately crave a vat of the Strawberries & Cream variety *drool*.
Sorry, where was I? Oh yes. Entertaining fans.
Alfa Romeo did pretty well in 2011 when it partnered with already established social game I am Playr. (The brand’s “Like” numbers jumped by 50 percent within 24 hours of it going live). January 2012 has seen the brand showing a series of car stunts on its Facebook page, which have so far attracted over 300,000 views – quite a lot for a brand page with just over 30 thousand likes. Evidence, if any were needed that engagement is so much more powerful than “Like” figures alone.
Social games are one of the most powerful ways to encourage fans to participate. Cadbury Creme Egg’s Goo Games allows people who “Like” the page to play an Olympics inspired Facebook game, which also allows them to see their friends scores while they are in game. Its one thing entertaining people, but adding the layer of social interaction with friends provides them with an extra motivation to re-visit.
Disney is also developing its first social game – Marvel: Avengers Alliance.
Tell people something that they wouldn’t know unless they’d seen it on your Facebook page, or heard about it from a friend that had. Marmite offers recipes on its Facebook page, but you have to like the page to see them (understandable, as why would you want to see a Marmite recipe if you hated it?)
Weight loss group, Weight Watchers provides a supper club app on its Facebook page, giving recipe ideas and encouraging fans to get involved with their friends by using the app to arrange – well – suppers. Weight Watchers customers already have an branded online community to head to for support and information, but the Facebook page acts as a way for customers friends and family to show their support and learn about healthy eating habits. By giving away just a small amount of free content, brands can show potential customers what they are all about and gently encourage them to become customers themselves.
Offer exclusive content, opportunities and discounts
People love to be the first to know and to be the one who gets the special discount or gets to enter the once in a lifetime competition. Major brands know this and use it to bring fans back to the brand page (or encourage them to make a purchase) frequently.
Domino’s posts pizza deals on a regular basis. Meanwhile, fashion brand New Look is using a chance to become the brands latest Style Star to lure people into Liking the page and Burberry recently live streamed the Burberry Prorsum Menswear Autumn/Winter 2012 show – allowing fans that couldn’t make it to Milan to have a catwalk-side seat at the event.
You don’t have to be a major brand with a huge budget to provide Facebook fans with exclusives, something as simple as breaking news on Facebook, or offering a week’s work experience would be just as effective. (For example, Sony UK offers the Sony Insiders tab which provides regular blog posts from experts.)
One of the most powerful ways to engage fans is to increase their involvement, and therefore their personal investment, in the page. If someone has spent time and energy on a project, they’re much more likely to re-visit it. The Coca-Cola Facebook page was set up by fans when they couldn’t find an official one. Rather than get the page removed, Coke works with the page creators to provide a branded page that places UGC at the heart of what it does. It looks and feels like a community-driven page and is all the better for it.
Then there’s Marmite, which showcases its fan of the month by integrating a picture of the fan into the profile picture on the site. It doesn’t require a lot of effort and acts as a small gesture to fans, showing them that the brand does know that they exist.
What better way to get fans involved than to get them shopping on Facebook? ASOS launched its Facebook store in 2011 because the figures showed just how loyal the brand’s Facebook following was (over 65% of site visitors coming from social media were repeat visitors) and 12% of site visitors were from Facebook alone. ASOS is a great example of a brand going to where its customers are rather than making their journey more convoluted.
The brands Facebook page should not be treated as an extra website, or even like the company blog. It should be treated as a place to bring fans together and act as way for them to get to know the more human side of the brand, to share their views and have the brand listen and respond. The brand should ask fans questions, start discussions and highlight ways in which they can get involved.
The brand should know its market well enough to understand what will get their fans interested in sharing views and contributing to the community. The Ancestry.co.uk Facebook wall is used by fans to help each other out with researching their family history. It doesn’t look like the brand gets involved much in these discussions, but most of the time it doesn’t need to.
TV channel Animal Planet uses a nifty little graphic to provide people with social links to their favourite programmes social media presences, and uses the Facebook page as an extra guide to what’s on, when and providing some related content to upcoming programmes.
Sports Entertainment group, WWE uses Facebook to host live video chats and point also points fans to its stars social media presences – displaying the links in a league table of popular pages (many multi-paged brands like Disney and The Lord of the Rings also provide this). For the WWE, it’s the competitiveness amongst fans of individual stars and the controversy that gets created on and off screen that helps drive engagement on Facebook and other social platforms.
There is no set formula in creating an engaging experience which will turn “Likers” into active members of a brands Facebook community. Engaged fans are those who feel that going to the brands page is something that they have to fit into their day. There has to be a strong motivation for them to visit and contribute. Brands that have a good understanding of what motivates their fans use a combination of methods to pull people into the page and encourage them to contribute to keeping the community alive. This is the only way that a brand can create and maintain an engaged Facebook following.