With over 550 million users and growing, Facebook is the single most important social media platform for marketers to understand and leverage. In this webcast, Dave Kerpen, CEO of Likeable and an award winning Facebook marketer, walks you through how to optimize your Facebook presence for your business or organization.
Aquent talks with Dave Kerpen, CEO, Likeable Media and Author of Like is the new link and the only choice is to be likeable.
In the four years since Dave and Carrie Kerpen formed their company, social media has exploded to become a central element of word-of-mouth marketing, and much of that activity takes place on Facebook. In a recent Aquent , American Marketing Association webinar, Dave Kerpen demonstrated the myriad ways for organizations to use Facebook marketing to expand and extend their reach.
To determine the baseline for the Facebook marketing reach of the marketers in the audience, he started the webcast by conducting a short series of polls among the audience and found that:
One-quarter of participants said they had no role in administering Facebook fan pages, about 40% administered a single page, 15% were responsible for two, and about 20% administered three or more.
About 45% of participants had fewer than 200 “Likes” on their fan pages and another 30% had fewer than 1,000. About 7% had 10,000 or more. While there is great potential in using Facebook as a marketing tool, this casual poll provides a snapshot of how this medium is underused as a viable and important channel for marketing.
Word of mouth “has always been the best and truest form of marketing,” Kerpen said. “We all do business with people and businesses that we know, like, and trust. People trust their friends.” But he said Facebook has changed the definition of friendship to take in a far wider network of connections. The average Facebook user has 130 friends, and “that’s drastically different from how word of mouth could travel just a few years ago.”
The other advantage for marketers is consumers’ willingness to hear from companies and organizations via social networks. “Take your marketing hats off for a moment, put on your consumer hats, and think how you feel as a consumer about telemarketing, television commercials, and direct mail,” he said. Despite that sense of inundation, “85% of social media users are actually putting their hands up and saying, ‘I want to interact with you using social media.’” This means “it’s no longer a matter of if, but a matter of when and how you will join the conversation, and how effective you will be on Facebook.”
Facebook allows users to set up four different types of entities, Kerpen said:
- Individual profiles that are inappropriate for use by companies and can be deleted at any time if the format is misused
- Facebook groups that are useful for closed functionality, such as an internal communication site for employees of a particular company
- Fan pages that companies can use to collect Likes and create an official marketing presence
- Community pages that become an “unofficial presence” where third parties can talk about an organization
He predicted that the “completely public and highly functional” design of Facebook fan pages will draw many small businesses that would otherwise rely on traditional websites for marketing and business development. Community pages are beyond the control of the organizations they’re set up to follow, but company representatives can and should monitor the pages and encourage people to Like them on their official pages. In the near future, Facebook is expected to allow company representatives to answer questions and concerns on community pages.
Talk with Your Customers
The key to marketing success on Facebook is for companies to talk about their customers, not themselves.
Too many companies “are putting their brand out there, they’re talking about themselves, and people aren’t getting excited,” Kerpen said. The alternative is to make sure that the messaging is all about the customer. “If we can get out of the habit of marketing at people and get in the habit of listening and engaging, we’re going to be much better off.”
That transformation begins with the choice of a profile photo for a fan page. Some organizations are “doing a nice job with their profile pic, but most companies are just throwing their logos up there,” he said. There are other options, even though Facebook requires images at a standard width. The length of the image allows companies to showcase specific products or individual fans, and the format lends itself to frequent updates. “It’s a great way to make it consumer-centric, and it’s great marketing, knowing that any parent or pet owner will recommend a site to all their friends if it features a photo of their baby or cat.”
Facebook fan pages approach the functionality of a website with tabs that can be used to present information, welcomes, notes, photos, and video. Although Facebook recently reduced the standard size of the tabs, the new format still accommodates photos, and all of the tabs can be hyperlinked to a website. A welcome tab can serve the same function as a landing page on the web, delivering key promotional messages and other functionality. No more than 10% of Facebook fan pages use this option, “so it’s a great way to gain an advantage over your competitors.”
The welcome tab is a great place to engage customers. One Likeable Media client, NYC Condom, opened its fan page with a call to action that invited visitors to become fans, play a video, and share a condom with a friend as a virtual gift.
Another site operated by 1-800-flowers.com offered an immediate discount code for anyone who liked the page. Other forms of functionality include polls and quizzes, contests, sweepstakes, virtual gifts, mailing list sign-ups, and RSS feeds, many of which can be delivered through third-party applications. Contests should be simple to enter and easy to follow, and must be approved by Facebook or one of its approved agencies.
Kerpen said that any of the strategies he described for business-to-consumer marketing could apply just as well to business-to-business relationships. “You’re just dealing with fewer numbers,” he said. “Instead of giving away a coupon, you might think about giving away a white paper. Instead of doing a virtual gift, you might offer an app that allows for a little bit better functionality with whatever their job is.” But he stressed that B2B is still about creating value for individual end users: “People don’t sell to businesses. They sell to people.”
Under the heading of best practices, Kerpen urges companies to create a dialogue with fans. When site visitors comment on a company’s service, “obviously you want to respond to the negatives, but the people posting good things are your ambassadors. They’re the most important people to answer, because they’re the ones who will spread the word to all of their friends.”
Deliver Great Content – and Share It
Despite the range of tools for driving visitors to a Facebook fan page, a successful site depends on delivering “great content, each and every day… if you’re not sharing content in the news feed, you’re invisible.” He encourages setting up advance calendars to plan the engaging content. He said that an effective Facebook page requires the attention of at least one half-time to full-time staff person and 25-30% of an organization’s marketing budget.
“Photos, video, links, questions and interactive applications (including polls, quizzes and virtual gifts) are the five most engaging status updates on Facebook” he added. “Text is great, but a picture really is worth a thousand words.” A video can be worth a thousand pictures and as long as it’s engaging, it needn’t have the highest production values. A post can also be as simple as a link to an interesting article. “Even though you’re driving people to someone else’s website, they’ll appreciate that you’re sharing great content.” But ultimately, the way to build volume and attract user comments is to ask questions and actively solicit Likes.
The other imperative is to be the kind of business or organization that people want to talk about and like. “No matter what you do on Facebook, if you have a customer service team that keeps people on hold for 45 minutes, it’s not going to work,” he said. “You’ve got to be likeable. You’ve got to be good. And then you have to be technically Likeable. You have to be able to generate Likes and comments with every single piece of content you share.”
Speaking not long after Facebook introduced its Like button and other social plug-ins, Kerpen said they had already been added to more than two million Internet sites and publishers like ABC News and The Huffington Post reported triple-digit increases in traffic as a result. “It’s all over the Web, and I believe we’re not far from a time when people will trust Likes more than they trust Google.” Someone who’s just moved to a new town will choose a new dentist endorsed by friends over the one that spends the most effort on a search engine optimization.
The Facebook Like button can also be applied to individual products or objects. “You can imagine Valentine’s Day, when all the men of the world go to 1-800-flowers.com and see that their wives or girlfriends have already liked bouquets, they’re already sold. We aren’t even selling to them. Their wives are selling directly to them, thanks to the Like button.”
Develop a News Feed
Kerpen described Facebook’s news feed algorithm as the company’s single best invention, since that’s where the majority of users get their content. The news feed is prioritized on three criteria: how recently an update was issued, how recently the user interacted with the page and, most important, the number of likes and comments the content has generated.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” he said. “The cream literally rises to the top,” so that a company with great content but only 1,000 fans places higher than an organization with a million fans but a less compelling message. As the superior content moves higher in the feed, it generates even more user feedback. The most common forms of content are:
- Updates that ask users a question;
- Updates that invite users to comment on a brand;
- Updates that announce contest winners;
- Everything else.
“People were much more likely to generate likes and comments when we asked questions and actually asked for likes,” Kerpen said. “That’s how you get to be relevant on Facebook.”
It’s All in the Details
Detailed demographics and sheer volume make Facebook “the greatest advertising platform in the history of mankind,” Kerpen said. “Yes, it beats Google AdWords.” With 550 million users, many of whom have identified their likes, interests, affiliations, and job titles, businesses can choose from a wide array of categories to target their perfect customers.
In consumer marketing, the target audience could include anyone who likes cooking, jazz, soccer, or novels. A B2B campaign might narrow its focus to chief marketing officers, CEOs, or the 20 biggest companies in one town, as long as they’re on Facebook.
There is also good reason for fan page owners to send targeted advertising to their fans and friends. When an ad goes to the connections of a fan page’s friends, it actually includes a personalized reference to the fan. “Imagine that you’re watching TV, a commercial comes on, and in the upper right-hand corner of the screen is a flag saying, ‘Dave loves these guys, check them out.’...It’s unheard of. And yet, with Facebook friends and connections ads, that’s exactly what you can do.” Campaigns can run on budgets as low as five dollars a day, can be based on a price per impression or per click (Kerpen recommended paying per click), and will soon extend to pay-per-like.
Although the sheer number of Facebook users makes the strategy attractive, Kerpen said the opportunity to target is even more important. “It’s amazing to reach 550 million people,” but “you need to reach the people who are core to your own product or service.” Depending on the campaign, the target could be 500,000 young mothers across the United States, 17 million Americans over the age of 18, 10 purchasing managers in a key industrial specialty, or one individual: When Kerpen’s wife wanted to nanotarget him with a personal message; she selected all 33-year-old male, married employees of Likeable based in New York. The message, accompanying a screen shot of a Blackberry: “I love you more than this device. And I’m only miserable when I’m without you. Hope we can unplug for a day soon.”
I love you. Unlike/You like this.
He recalled a client who had used a nano-targeted Facebook ad to reach one pharmaceutical executive who wasn’t accessible by any other means.
Whether the target audience is wide or narrow, he recommends a Facebook ad should link visitors to a page within their chosen social network. “People aren’t on Facebook because they want to go to your website,” he said, “They’re on Facebook because they want to interact with each other.”
Facebook analytics give fan page administrators access to their users’ age, gender and location as well as their level of activity. “It’s great to have lots and lots of likes, but it’s even more important to have active likes who are interacting with a site”.
Not if, but When and How
Facebook reported 500 million users in early fall and is growing at a rate of 750,000 to one million users per day. It will likely reach one billion users in 2012 out of the 1.8 billion Internet users world-wide.
So it’s not a matter of if your organization should utilize Facebook as a marketing tool, but when and how. To be the kind of business that people will like and discuss your Facebook page, you should:
- Have a great profile picture and a welcome tab that will grab attention on your fan page.
- Utilize the five most effective ways to engage your fans: Use Photos, video, links, questions and interactive applications (including polls, quizzes and virtual gifts to your advantage).
- Set up a content calendar and provide great content.
- Share your great content. Ask your fans what they think. Develop a news feed to share comments, gain attention and attract likes.
- Understand how Facebook works and hyper-target your perfect customers using Facebook ads.
- And, most importantly, make the conversation about your customers, not your organization.
About Dave Kerpen
Dave Kerpen is the CEO of Likeable Media (formerly the KBuzz), a social media and word-of-mouth marketing firm.
Dave is one of the leading experts on social media and Facebook marketing. Dave and his work have been featured on CNBC's "On the Money," ABC World News Tonight, the CBS Early Show, the New York Times, and countless blogs.
Dave’s new book, called Likeable Social Media, outlines 18 strategies for creating an authentic brand personality through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. Communicated with wit and humor, Likeable Social Media is the definitive source for using social media to win new customers, gather valuable feedback, and increase the bottom line.