There seems to be a general feeling among marketers that Facebook is easy for people, but hard for brands. Indeed, brands tend to participate in social media campaigns in bursts instead of being consistent across social channels.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle for brands using Facebook is letting social be social. As Margaret Francis, VP Social Products at ExactTarget explains, brands need to accept the possibility of negative sentiment and use that to their advantage. After all, you learn more from what people don’t like about you, than what they do. “It’s important to encourage reciprocal relationships with your customers and direct them to channels they feel comfortable following up with,” says Francis. By opening the door to the possibility of a little bit of negative sentiment, you will let in much more positive sentiment from your followers.
Once you’ve made the decision to embrace customer interaction over social media, the challenge for many brands is to manage these conversations across platforms – specifically Facebook and Twitter (let’s face it, people don’t expect customer service on Pinterest!).
One of the biggest problems for many companies is that they’re terrified of being called out by a consumer on social media. Of course, social participation is more difficult for brands in highly regulated industries like financial services. But Francis cautions against using social channels to merely promote and sell – it’s a marketing approach that’s much too narrow. Instead, brands should be creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging with customers.
Social media is also a great tool for inbound marketing, which means any branded Facebook page must feature a function for email signups to expand your database, as well as promotion of all your other social channels. It’s a great way to solicit customers – user-generated content (UGC) is hugely popular, so let your followers co-create content for you by encouraging them with incentives like competitions. Remember, the value of social media is not in the transaction. It’s in the engagement.
Francis offers five basic tips for Facebook engagement best practice:
- It’s your customer, not Facebook’s (no matter what Mark Zuckerberg thinks).
- Let social be social – let go of your traditional controls.
- Every Facebook campaign should be a cross-channel campaign for a cohesive consumer experience.
- Targeting = relevance.
- Measure your actions from the customer perspective.
With social media no longer the latest buzzword but an established marketing channel, it’s time to move away from tactical goals, such as increasing ‘likes’ and followers, and move towards business goals, like engagement and conversion. But, as Francis points out, “It’s impossible to engage alone”. As marketers we need business-wide support in our efforts to better engage with customers.
By Edwina Lawry – Senior Content Strategist