If I had to define the key benefit and reason to engage in any social media, it would be “trusted advisor” marketing. In sales terms, a trusted advisor is a relationship status between a customer and sales person where the sales person becomes the ‘go to’ person for any customer enquiries related to the field of expertise of the sales person, resulting in a trusted and sharing relationship. For solution selling, this is your target! In the consumer world however, there is no better trusted advisor then a friend.
We trust what our friends say, seriously consider what they suggest, and are influenced by what they like and dislike. Facebook allows us to enable these friends to recommend products and brands openly, and encouraging them to do so is a powerful opportunity for a business.
Celebrity product endorsements are a great example of utilising a trusted advisor to influence consumer behaviour. It worked in the past, and it works now. Kaspersky broke into the very competitive Antivirus market by having Jackie Chan represent the brand. L’Oreal gets big celebrities for big bucks to be the face of their products, all to take advantage of the trusted advisor principle.
Social media takes this to a new level. If a customer recommends your product or brand on Facebook, you are getting your message out to over 150 people instantly, and via the best trusted advisor, a friend. This is a compelling value proposition for any business.
Given the above – it would make sense then to judge the success of a Facebook page by the number of friends that share or engage with the content (In Facebook terminology – ‘number of people talking about this’). However – most retailers still rely and report on total likes as the most important indicator of success, and I think this needs to change. Likes are important, but that by itself is of limited value.
The process of getting traffic and increasing the fan-base of your Facebook page is now pretty much established. You can use Facebook Advertising to drive Likes – and this works extremely well, or you can run marketing campaigns to drive traffic and likes to your Facebook page. What isn’t established is how you keep the customer engaged with your page, and have them continuously share and talk about your content. This challenge is where most Facebook pages unravel, and I don’t blame them, it isn’t easy!
The reason it isn’t easy is because when a customer likes your Facebook page, your post becomes 1 of over 400 posts a customer will get per day from their friends, other pages and interests. That is a lot of messages, and naturally, much of it becomes white noise. I for instance, only engage with 20-30 messages in my news feed per day, and the rest I may glance at, or scroll past without even looking. So the challenge is to remain relevant with the ‘connected consumer’ when you are just a drop in an ocean of messages being delivered to the customer per day.
Below are three examples of some prominent retailers comparing ‘new likes’ vs. ‘people who are talking about this’ over a month. We will keep the names anonymous.
The first thing to know is when a customer likes a page, they also “talk about the page”, and hence you will notice Retailer 2 and 3 have similar movements between the two graphs. If we are to judge the health of these pages based on Likes alone, then Retailer 2 and 3 are certainly doing better than Retailer 1.
However, although Retailer 2 and 3 are getting plenty of new Likes from customers, not much else is happening. It is clear that after liking the page, they are not sharing or engaging with the messages beyond that. This means Retailer 2 and 3 are becoming the white noise that is ignored, and a further increase in Likes isn’t likely to change this pattern. Yes, every now and then, a relevant message will hit a relevant customer and value will be created, but for the most part, it is wasted.
Retailer 1 however, has reached the holy grail. They have consistent increase to their Likes, but each message that they deliver is being engaged and interacted with by their customer base. In fact, each message they post is being delivered to over 7 times their total fan base. So if they had 100 total Likes, each message is being distributed to an additional 700 people that may not have known what the brand or product is, and they are getting this message via a trusted advisor. Jackpot! The results have been greater traffic to their online page, greater Likes on Facebook, and even increased foot traffic.
I have bumped heads with a few social media strategists that believe a retailers Facebook page should just show the latest product and promotions, and that the customer isn’t interested in other things. I think this content is no doubt important – but it is just one piece of the content strategy if you want to take full advantage of social media.
My suggestions is to focus more on engagement then Likes, as engagement will lead to more likes, and tactical campaigns can increase Likes quickly, but sustainability of your Facebook page depends on your content strategy and engagement – and here are my suggestions:
- Use the magazine/newspaper approach to your page. Customers buy a magazine because of the articles, and they accept the advertising that goes with it. Your Facebook page should have messages and articles relevant to your customer base, and your advertising should be just one part of it, not all of it.
- Interact with your customer. If they post something good or bad – respond. Facebook is a two way medium, and when customers spend a good portion of their life on it – 2 hours can be a long time to respond, and people notice poor response. You’re better off with no Facebook page then an unmanaged one.
- Look beyond your product – find something engaging that your customer cares about and is related to your brand. Your posts should encourage feedback and engagement, not just be an information “blast”.
- 1-3 messages a day is plenty. Your customer does have a life outside of your product/brand, so respect it. You are always one click away from being disliked, so do not spam!
- Monitor your posts effectiveness. Look at what messages your customers are engaging and distributing, and what they aren’t. Adjust your strategy accordingly. Facebook Insights is a fantastic place to study your customers behaviour and engagement with your brand.
- Where possible – do not give power to another business to manage your page. You are your brand and you are best to represent it.
- Use images as they are more engaging to customers, even in a news ticket. More people interact with an image on Facebook then a text post, a check-in or a video.
You don’t have to go far to see this in action and the results it gets. I had the absolute pleasure of working with Lorna Jane who pioneered our SocialEyes product in their stores, and they are a great example of everything I talk about here.
Follow them on Facebook and see how they engage with their customers on a personal level.