Am I the kind of brand people are going to like?
If you're considering jumping into the Facebook fray, you have
to take an honest look at your brand and assess whether users will
find real cultural or social value in associating their names with
yours. Ashley Ringrose, founder and CEO of the social-media-centric
digital shop Soap Creative, said a like isn't much different than a
bumper sticker. Would someone want to attach your logo to the back
of her car?
If your target consumer demographic is active on Facebook, if
there is demonstrated brand affinity (for example, a pre-existing
user-created fan page with a promising following) or if your
comparable competitors have staked a healthy social claim, then you
should consider building a page of your own. But the golden rule is
best summed up by Lee Oden, CEO of TopRank Marketing and publisher
of the TopRankBlog.com: "If your brand sucks, no one is going to
Do I need to buy paid media to get people to like me, or
will they find me on their own?
Some brands have been able to grow their Facebook pages virally
without the use of paid ad placement leading users to their pages,
but they're the exception rather than the rule. Coca-Cola, the
brand whose page boasts more likes than any other on the platform,
didn't earn all 22-million-plus of its fans without a little
prodding -- and it is one of the most iconic brands there is. "Most
people aren't actively looking for brands on Facebook," Mr.
Ringrose said. "You would never go, 'Hmm, I wonder what Skittles is
doing?' Or "What's that weird organic coffee brand up to?' It's
more about putting it under users' noses. 'Do you like this brand?'
'Yes, I do.'"
A common misstep marketers make is not properly leveraging
Facebook's ad-targeting tools to achieve a more efficient media
buy, Mr. Ringrose said.
Michael Lazerow, CEO of the software and services firm Buddy
Media, which works to help some of the biggest brands, such as
Target , grow and manage their Facebook pages, said the ultimate
approach to building a following is a more holistic approach that
lies at the intersection of paid media and earned reach. "It's
about figuring out what the impact of paid media is, what the viral
lift from social is, and how those fit together," he said, noting
that Facebook needs better analytics tool to help find this sweet
I've made a page and filled it with content. Now
Just because you've built it doesn't mean they will come, Mr.
Lazerow said. Marketers have to apply resources behind their
efforts in social media, and be prepared to feed the beast with
fresh and original content that (rather than clogging up their news
feeds) gives fans the real-time opportunity and incentive to
experience your brand. Questions and complaints need to be
responded to and dealt with, and brand advocates -- those unpaid
evangelizers who sing your praises without the pay -- need to be
recognized and encouraged. "Everyone loves their new puppy," Mr.
Ringrose said. "But you've got to feed it and take care of it. You
can't just throw it away after the campaign or Christmas is
What kind of content do Facebook users respond to
This differs by brand (as do the habits of users who follow
them) but Roger Katz, CEO of the social-media firm Friend2Friend,
said giving your fans genuine reasons to engage with your content
and pass it along to their own friends is the holy grail of
"When a brand has a fan, they are one step away from all of that
fan's friends. That next step is an incredible opportunity, but
it's also a challenge." He said when it comes to getting your fans
to help spread your content, it has to be because your fans
genuinely want to spread the word -- and usually that isn't because
you shouted at them, spammed them or gave them a coupon. "People
like experiences, and when they have them, they talk about them and
share them. Getting users to propagate their own messages to their
friends about your brand is where the magic is," he said.
What is more important: the number of likes you have, or
how much people comment on and share your content?
Most experts agree that while the number of likes associated
with a page is a clear and easy way to measure its influence, it is
not the most-telling number. In fact, when you consider the number
of impressions your posts are actually getting (once you factor in
how may of those fans have hidden brand page updates on their feeds
or might miss your post in the clutter) the number of impressions
you're actually achieving is much closer to half of how many fans
you have. Mr. Ringrose even estimates that the unique impression
rate on a post can average as low as 20%.
And then there's the all-important question of engagement. "If
you have a million likes on your page, and only 10 people are
actually engaging, we don't call that a successful page," Mr.
Lazerow said. "It all depends on what each brand wants to do.
There's nothing wrong with wanting a large fan base, but what are
Still, Mr. Ringrose said even as they grow their fan bases,
brands need to make sure they aren't treating their pages as free,
one-way advertising platforms. "I'd rather have half as many likes
and twice as many comments," he said. "The total number of likes is
such an easy number to wrap your head around, and it's a badge of
honor for many brands, but monthly and daily active users and
feedback on posts, to me, are more important."
What if Facebook changes its rules?
That's a hurdle no marketer has much control over. Facebook can
(and will) change its policies, its page functionalities and its
design, and all brands can do is keep up. Marketers -- both those
that farm out their social-media responsibilities and those that
maintain pages in-house -- should be advised that these changes are
a reality from the beginning of the endeavor. "What we're doing
[for clients] now may not be possible six months from now," Mr.
Ringrose said. "Facebook is getting better and letting us know when
big changes are coming, but the reality is, you're a rental
property, and the landlord has his way."