As Facebook slowly achieves world domination, every company is facing the same $64,000 question: How do we leverage the mind-boggling scale of the platform to get our brand noticed?
The good news is that Facebook users are generally very positive about brands they like. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, consumers are likely to identify with a brand that advertises alongside their own personal information on a Facebook page.
The same ad has less impact if viewed on a stranger’s page.
Social media is about dialogue
However, the rules of the marketing game have changed in an era of social media – it’s not just about being seen in the right place, it’s about getting positive word of mouth through people commenting on and sharing things on their timeline. It’s also about dialogue rather than broadcast.
IBM found that 60 per cent of customers only engage with a company on social media if they already have some enthusiasm for that particular brand and only 45 per cent consider engaging with brands over social channels at all.
BT’s research on Social Customers has found that some sectors are faring better than others-notably logistics, media, fashion, food, travel and especially retail. In these areas it is common for consumers to strongly defend the reputation of a brand in online conversations with others, or post positive comments on sites like Facebook.
Not surprisingly, Facebook users also want something in return for their interest. Research by InSites found that in the UK and USA, 56 per cent expect extra promotions on social media, 55 per cent wanted to be invited to events and 50 per cent wanted to have more product information.
Meaningful rewards for customers can be free or low cost, so long as they are fun and interactive. Allowing customers to vote on a product launch idea or share product suggestions can be a cost effective and powerful way of getting customers engaged with a brand. The key is to listen and respond; ignoring customers is not a good move!
Creating a consistent brand image
Some UK companies are already taking such findings on board. For example BT has helped Scottish fashion brand Lyle & Scott build a social media commerce store on Facebook, in addition to its existing popular Facebook site with its 38,000 fans. The store has the advantage of allowing customers to buy via Facebook in addition to ‘liking’ the brand and encouraging customer feedback.
For such firms the key aim is one of creating a consistent brand image across all digital platforms. This gives consumers the confidence to get involved and purchase in new ways, most notably on Facebook.
There is no doubt that social media users are choosy about what brands they hook up with online, but for those brands that understand the needs and wants of their customers there are opportunities to make ‘friends’ while improving the bottom line.
Post by Dr. Nicola Millard