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Facebook Business Travelogue Concluding Post: Deeper Dive into Social Media Marketing

So my second travelogue originally began as a way to explore into how Facebook is generating revenue and where their advertising money is coming from. However, somewhere midway through my journey, I landed on a destination somewhat more interesting for both me and the class. Last week, this deviation from my planned route landed us on how businesses and advertisers use Facebook fan pages to engaging with customers and forming brand images in more efficient manner than traditional print or TV advertisements. Specifically, I gave Victoria’s Secret Pink and Sears as two examples of good uses of Facebook fan pages.

This week I will attempt to conclude my second travelogue with deeper dive into how companies should be and is using social media in general (not only Facebook fan pages) to monitor their brand image and promote their wanted brand images. (By the way that image is a book by Shiv Singh, who is the VP & Global Social Media Lead at my company. Incredibly smart guy, but I haven’t got a chance to actually read that book). First let’s take a look at more examples of good uses of Facebook fan pages. Although somewhat outdated Callan Green takes a look into five cases studies of successful uses of Facebook fan pages to drive engagement from consumers.

Green points out Pringles, Coca Cola, Starbucks, Adidas, and Red Bull as five examples of excellent use of Facebook fan pages. Of course, these are not the only companies with successful uses of fan pages, but examining Green’s reasoning behind pointing these five out specifically reveal what makes a Facebook fan pages an effective one. I summarize some key points:

1) Facebook fan pages should first and foremost generate user participations.
All of the Facebook fan pages mentioned by Green is effective in driving users to participate actively through posts or views. This may get even more apparent with some new development by Facebook. According to Shiv Singh, Facebook may be close to implementing an ability to showcase impressions and clicks. This information could be immensely useful for companies and advertisers. You can now measure and gain insights into user participation and engagement not only through posts, but also by number of impressions it served and number of clicks on that post. In other words, in the near future companies may be to more effectively know indirect user participation and engagement.

2) Integrate “varied, fun, and interesting” content that can be easily shared by users to their friends.
The big advantage Facebook fan pages have over other social media is that it can aggregate rich content advertising in addition to user participation. For instance, Starbucks fan page include not only videos and photos of Starbucks products, but general info about coffee. Adidas fan page includes several video ads that can be easily shared with other friends to promote viral marketing. Red Bull fan page has a twitter update of all the athletes it sponsors, brining in additional content element to give users and fans more holistic experience through the fan page.

3) Utilize Facebook fan pages to drive more on-line or off-line product sales or to promote off-line marketing events.
Finally as we discussed last week, companies can include coupons and promote off-line events (such as parties, pop-up stores or flash-mob like events) to create synergy between “branding” and off-line activities, or between “branding” and actual sales. This type of effort might see some evolution and revolution in the near future as Facebook might implement e-commerce on fan pages.

While utilizing Facebook fan pages are effective in user engagement and viral marketing, companies should not remain confined by Facebook. Indeed more recently they have been keeping up with Joneses through the twitter channel as well. Let’s examine the fashion industry for an example. Hitha Prabhakar looks into how the fashion industry is adopting social media into their branding and marketing plans. Shiv Singh is quoted in the article saying, “Brands are learning how to humanize without killing their mystique…You look at brands like Chanel, who have pushed designer Karl Largerfeld into the social media sphere to further connect with their customers, or Victoria’s Secret, who has 2.63 million fans on Facebook and 1.7 million for Pink — you are able to see how these brands are able to connect with their customers and monetize on it through awareness, loyalty and engagement.” In fact, according to the article, since Diane von Furstenberg got more engaged in the social media realm last year, it has seen its online traffic increase by 13%. As shown by this example, having more “engagement” with the consumers on a more eye-to-eye level through social media does help immensely in driving up interest, and ultimately product purchases.

Within the Prabhakar’s article, the CEO of Jones Apparel Group, Wesley R. Card, is quoted in saying “As a chief executive, you want to think that you have complete control over what is being said about you or your company, and you want to make sure what you are saying isn’t getting misconstrued. Even though I know we need to embrace it as a corporation, I am a little apprehensive.” I would like to close by travelogue by taking a quick dive at addressing this statement and what the social media marketing is moving towards now to address this statement raised by Card. Whether Wesley Card wants accept it or not, his company’s products are still going to be discussed on-line. The fact that he feels apprehensive shows that he is very much behind. Even if Jones Apparel Group does not engage in social media marketing, that does not mean people won’t talk about Jones New York, Nine West, or Anne Klein (some of the brands owned by Jones Apparel Group). He needs to accept this fact and learn how to gain “control over what is being said about you or your company”. Yes, it is true that you won’t have complete control, but you can influence and help shape this landscape in your favor.

Radian6 is one of the larger social media marketing firms. In their introductory video, they state “You need to know how your brand is being discussed online. And you need to deliver and act on those insights with your company.” They continue on to explain that through their monitoring platform you will gain ability to “know who is talking about you, what they are saying, who the influential voices are in your industry, and where your community is hanging out on-line….Listening is just the beginning. Businesses need to engage with their communities….Radian6 helps you understand the landscape of social media, where your brand fits in, and how you can evaluate and benchmark the impact of your work. We scan millions of posts from main stream on-line news to blogs, forums, videos, and comments, social networks, and micro-media.” What Radian6 claims to do, and is capable of doing is where the industry is heading. They are capable of knowing where specific brands are talked about in positive or negative or even neutral manners. In fact, aforementioned Shiv Singh developed a SIM (Social Influence Marketing) score to come up with a measurement of how your company or brand is talked about on-line. As Radian6 video explains, the industry is also now moving to identify and target key influential voices, and are able to find out share of voices the brand has as well. None of this is exact science right now in terms of analysis. There are way way way too much information available, and not enough scientific ways to interpret these data yet. However, in the near future, social media marketing may become a norm and a standard much like search advertising or display banner advertising.

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5 Comments

  1. Juliette 19:31, Feb 15th, 10

    Dan,
    I totally agree on your statement that being afraid is “behind”. However I also strongly beleive that there is a lot of work to be done to convert companies and mostly their CEO to Social Media!
    Companies focus on the risk taken rather than on the benefit that could come out of it. But because the benefits remains very blurred. To convert CEO we will still need to rely on figures and tangible datas.

    Also I do believe that Social Media are an opportunity not only for Marketing but for companies’s Communication as a whole (see my travelogue on Social media and image/CSR/reputation issue).

  2. Alexandra 23:03, Feb 15th, 10

    Are companies able to track whether online engagement actually translates into dollars? You mentioned that DVF online traffic is up 13%, but are the sales figures up as well? I know it is tough to quantify, but that is when CEOs will really be convinced that they need to engage. Your first two points are definitely valid, but for the CEO, they are only interested in 1 and 2 if they lead to 3. Otherwise it’s just a “nice to do” – for the biggest companies, anyway. Smaller and/or more progressive companies, depending on their business focus, are usually more inclined to join the conversation.

  3. Leslie 09:55, Feb 16th, 10

    Hey Dan- I definitely agree with your concluding statement here. These companies don’t recognize the fact that whether they are present in social media or not, their brand is most likely being talked about. As I mentioned on one of Juliette’s posts in the past, I am having the same trouble trying to get my client into the social media sphere. We are able to show our client every single day that people are talking about them on blogs and Twitter- both positive and negative talk. Yet, they are still hesitant to enter the social media world. I feel like the further and further they put this off, the worse it will be for them in the future, especially knowing that their competition does use social media.

    As Alex noted, I think it all unfortunately comes down to tying back social media engagement to sales, especially for retail companies. Once they start seeing the direct connection, companies will be more willing to become engaged in social media. The question is, will it be too late by this point? Will they lose ample opportunity to learn and grow as social media grows and changes?

  4. nadine 12:33, Feb 16th, 10

    Facebook becomes an advertisement’s heaven! With all the planned features, it will become extremely easy to analyze the taste of your fans and customers, and evaluate the impact of your ad. Companies aren’t dependent anymore on expensive consultants (at least in regard to their social media page). However, Radian6′s support must me a huge asset. It is funny, in the end, they also follow simple social media trends: identify, target key voices and follow them!

  5. Jimena 13:00, Feb 16th, 10

    Hi Dan,
    Even though the final objectives are quite different, I think our topics relate a lot. I agree with Alex and Leslie, the idea is tying social media back to sales. What I’ve been seeing with cultural organization’s engagement with social media is the same thing– how to transform online engagement & user generated content into actual audience increase & real life engagement with whatever is the organization’s activity.

    I think that increasing online traffic is definitely a way of bringing consumers (artistic or retail) closer to actual consumption. They are spending time on you instead than with any other brand or activity that competes with you. What I have seen is that it takes a clever strategy to link that online activity with ticket or retail sales (take a look at the Royal Opera House’s twitter project that I report on my post). Even if FB isn’t an actual online store (yet) and it might never offer actual retail through its fan pages (we’ll see), social media does bring the target one click closer to where you want them to be.