Marketers throughout the ages have known that personal recommendations from friends hold far more sway in a consumer’s mind than any ad campaign or rebate offer. In fact, one negative review from the right person is enough to turn someone completely off from your product, no matter how much money you spend on marketing. That’s why it’s always been so important for marketers to try and penetrate social circles—sometimes in disguise—to plant positive reviews of their products and to get positive word-of-mouth marketing going. Although you would think that penetrating social circles would get harder over time—consumers catch on to marketers’ tactics and wise up. On the contrary, penetrating social circles has become increasingly easier through modern social technology, namely, social networks and blogs. But just because access to these communities has become easier, integrating yourself into them (as a marketer) is not much easier than it has always been.
That is to say, social interaction is always the same, no matter the medium by which it takes place. Today, there are a number of social networks, and all of them have grown with their own sets of norms by which their user-communities abide. What is interesting about the sets of social rules that have sprung up organically inside these networks is that they have been shaped by the medium itself. That is to say, the way people communicate within a social media system is depended largely upon the tools of communication provided to that community. We can see this example at work in Twitter, where users are confined to using 140 character busts of information. As such, Twitter has evolved as a rather impersonal space where people tend to re-share (RT) the vast majority of information—but, again, regularly re-sharing someone else’s original idea is perfectly acceptable in Twitter because that’s what everyone expects everyone else to do.
The same is true for the largest social networking site in the world: Facebook. The means by which people communicate and connect with one another has created a space that is hard for marketers to enter comfortably, but there are ways you can do it.
Going Swimming in the Facebook Marketing Pool
Facebook is kind of like a big pool party. Everyone comes into have a good time with their friends. There may be some advertisements posted around the pool area, but they aren’t bothersome to party-goers. However, when a marketer tries to get into the pool, decked out in brand-covered board shorts, trying to steer all the conversations back to their brand, the party isn’t fun anymore and people begin to leave.
Facebook was created as a space for friends to connect with one another, so there are a number of “friendly” tools like status updates (with ample character allotment), picture sharing, link sharing, and more. These are all great tools for the Facebook marketing professional to take advantage of, but if used in the wrong way can cross the line into annoying party crasher. And when you have crossed that line, your followers will stop listening and leave the party.
The Best Messaging for Facebook Marketing
Because Facebook is such a fantastic social space, as a brand manager, you need to adapt to the social space. Basically, you need to use the tools that Facebook has created to engage with users in a way that fits within the norms of the Facebook community but doesn’t cross into annoying/creepy territory.
What to Share
Users have invited your brand into their social space because they like you and they think you’ll be a good addition to their pool party. But they don’t want you to hang out and comment on pictures of their family. Facebook marketing is about giving users continued, useful interaction; so you can keep them engaged with your brand. What you should give them:
- Links to relevant, useful/entertaining information
- Tips and insights into using your product/service/brand
- Humorous insights (not based on you personally, but on the brand)
- Ability to interact with the brand
- Reminders and other tidbits of information
When you are using these to engage your followers in Facebook marketing, it is always important to keep in mind that you should take yourself out of the equation. Remember, your followers are following the brand, NOT YOU. That means that everything you post should focus on the brand itself and provide some type of added value, whether it be information, humor, entertainment, discounts, or more. The point is to give your brand followers what that are looking for—continued engagement with your brand. If they don’t see the value in your relationship, they‘ll stop following, so it’s important to give them what they are looking for.
For example, for your Facebook marketing campaigns, you should create status updates about upcoming deals and specials, or links to information about your brand that will enhance their user experience—like “making of” videos or insightful infographics. What they don’t want to hear about is what you had for lunch or how awesome a recent trade show was—and they certainly don’t want you to post the same link five times a day. Ask questions, and reply to their answers. Give them a forum through which they can strengthen their bond with the brand and with the community surrounding the brand.
Facebook Marketing as a Friend
All in all, Facebook marketing is about recognizing that Facebook is a social space wherein brands are not generally welcome. So it’s about knowing the boundaries between where your followers social interactions end and where brand engagement can begin, and respecting those boundaries. If you give your followers good information on a regular basis, they’ll keep inviting you to the party; if not, they’ll boot you out.