As a communications professional, it is hard to deny the tremendous impact that social media has had on our clients, campaigns and work methods. Facebook is one of the world’s largest social media platforms with an estimated 800 million users. Its reach has motivated companies and PR practitioners to incorporate or create digital media campaigns using Facebook in order to generate “likes,” create a community among consumers and prospects, and manage customer service needs. In the article, “4 Do’s and Don’ts of Using Facebook as a PR Tactic,” PRNews breaks down the best and worst ways to accomplish your Facebook goals.
- Offer incentives as a fan acquisition strategy – It’s safe to say that it’s easier for major worldwide brands to acquire more “likes” due to their global reach and presence. For smaller companies, it may be a bit harder to quickly gain a huge following. Incentives are a great way to gain awareness and earn Facebook “likes.” Generally, competitions offering free merchandise, product discounts or cause-related work for charities or philanthropies are a great way to earn recognition and increase your Facebook presence.
- Show customer and fan appreciation – Customers and fans like to feel appreciated. Once they become a part of a loyal consumer base, they want to establish a personal connection. Giving back to them with product discounts or free merchandise makes them feel as if their loyalty is being rewarded. For example, Frito-Lay set a Guinness World Record on Facebook in 2011 by giving its customers a coupon for a free bag of chips as a virtual loyalty program. This display of appreciation earned them 1.6 million “likes” in a 24-hour-period. Consider what your company or brand can offer your consumers and implement that into a campaign that’ll show that you appreciate their support.
- Provide value and thought leadership to customers through useful and entertaining content – Once you establish a following, you want to ensure that you provide your audience with relevant, fun and useful information. The content that you post on your page should tie in with the product or service’s value proposition, and the page’s tone and communication style should be conversational. Research shows that authentic conversation drives consumer engagement more than heavily branded messages. For instance, if you are releasing a new product, deliver the benefits of the product in a conversational manner. Consumers are more likely to react well to messages that are more informal.
- “For the customer, by the customer” – When making a product or service, you begin by thinking about the problem and how you can solve it. Once you find an innovative way to satisfy this market need, you assess your target market and figure out the best ways to reach them. The same perspective can be used with your Facebook strategy. Your Facebook strategy should work to inform and entertain your target market while still utilizing consumer insights. With enough market and consumer research, you will be able to craft your messages in a manner that will be relatable and interest your specific audience. Relevant and insightful content drives participation and fan acquisition.
- Don’t be overly promotional – Heavy promotional materials generally push customers away because the tone of conversation isn’t authentic. Marketers using Facebook to promote or extend their marketing vehicles won’t find success unless their ads are creative, quirky or iconic.
- Don’t create a Facebook page without doing your homework – Facebook isn’t right for every company. Utilizing Facebook without properly analyzing and assessing your business’ needs and target market will result in failure due to an inability to construct messages that will cater to your market. Avoid the urge to join every breaking social media platform for the sake of doing so. Sometimes, the most strategic move is to opt out of doing something if you know it doesn’t align with your company’s needs.
- Don’t post too much and don’t post too little – Find a happy medium. Posting too much will easily annoy your fans. Be selective with the messages that you post and make sure that you are providing thought leadership and useful information. Posting too little can also signal a badly managed social media platform or a company that doesn’t care much about its brand or customers. A great technique is to set up a schedule on when you will update your sites. Try to set a minimum of at least 4 posts a week. For those who are busy, sites like HootSuite allow user to plan out their tweets for months in advance. It takes five to 10 minutes and updates your accounts on the specified dates and times.
- Don’t ignore your audience – Don’t ignore your audience’s responses to your messages. Furthermore, don’t ignore the type of content that they interact with frequently. It is important to maintain a constant stream of communication and to stay on top of evolving trends to ensure that you reach your fans or customers.