Posted by Lily Zhu on Mon, Mar 22, 2010 @ 09:15 AM
Have you ever wondered why some Facebook pages attract millions of fans while others don't?
Granted, many of these super-popular pages stand for internationally known corporations that already have a large base of staunch supporters, but they know that an established brand doesn't compensate a mediocre page. What, then, are these companies doing right to attract and sustain a large number of Facebook fans?
The answer lies not just in active page maintenance. Constantly uploading relevant content and promptly answering fan inquiries are important but insufficient for building a highly successful Facebook page. As the following case studies attempt to illustrate, the key lies in involving fans in creative and personable ways.
1. Successful pages involve fans through product-related polls and contests.
Fans like to feel involved. A space for them to voice their opinions is good, but one that invites fans to transform mere opinions into constructive feedback for product improvement is even better. Oreo, with approximately 4.3 million Facebook fans, classifies as the latter.
The Oreo Jingle Contest integrates product-related content--dunk Oreo cakesters in milk or not--with format that encourages creativity--that is, singing the jingle any way you want. Oreo goes even further to involve fans who are too lazy to enter the contest--they may vote for their favorite entries. A creative, free campaign as such succeeds not just in leaving potential customers a favorable impression of Oreo's new products but also in making fans feel that their opinions are valued by Oreo, which may in turn strengthen customers' loyalty or curiosity to leran more about Oreo products.
Not all contests work as well on Facebook as Oreo's. Pepsi, a well-run but much less popular page, also publicized a contest. Unlike the Jingle contest, however, Pepsi's Refresh Project seems to promote the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) more than it does its own products.
Not that a CSR project is a bad idea. In fact, Pepsi's move on Facebook probably helps build a healthy, trustworthy corporate brand that may indirectly contribute to sales. The problem, however, seems to lie in the word "indirect." Since the project does not directly address Pepsi products, fans may find it difficult to see how their participation helps improve Pepsi products that will eventually benefit them as consumers. In other words, Pepsi's contest is a good initiative that nonetheless neglects the importance of interaction perceivable to consumers, which may explain why it contributes little in drawing a flock of fans to the Pepsi page.
2. Successful pages respond to fans' comments promptly.
Are contest and polls the only means of involving fans? Of course not. Responding to fans' inquiries and concerns itself can be just as effective depending on how it's implemented. Coca-Cola, a page with more than 5.2 million followers, handles fan inquiries and comments so meticulously that they display real-time Twitter interactions under a tab named "Feeds." The fact that every reply addresses a particular fan by first name implies at the very least that Coca-Cola wants to project a caring, personable image. Fan buy into this.
3. Successful pages respond to fans' comments inclusively.
Besides responding promptly, another key to successfully brewing an engaging atmosphere is to respond inclusively. Fans don't always leave positive comments. They also encounter frustrating moments when using a product or service and vent that frustration by leaving negative comments.
JetBlue has encountered that. A brief look at their discussion board tells the story of some customers who are not happy with JetBlue services. One post is outspokenly named "nice how you delete," which inevitably refers to JetBlue's past page management style since this post still exists. JetBlue listens and acts upon what it hears. Its tolerance of negative comments and constructive responses effectively erects an image of open-mindedness and determination to constantly improve its services. Apparently, fans buy that, too.
To conclude, some Facebook pages are highly successful because they support customer relations with creativity, punctuality, and an open mind. These success stories apply not just to big corporations but also to businesses of any size. Once you learn to merge the three elements in running your Facebook page, you will be on your way to building an effective inbound-marketing-driven brand.
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