Your brand’s success on Facebook depends on how you integrate social media into your overall marketing mix
Has your brand unknowingly placed limits on itself with its Facebook strategy? I’ve spoken to over a hundred brands — in particular, to the folks who are in charge of their Facebook presence. These companies included consumer packaged goods businesses, banks, retailers and more, all in a wide range of size and brand recognition. From those conversations, I’ve noticed that there are three primary types of individuals guiding their Facebook strategy:
- Brand marketer: This is most often a mid-level manager with responsibility for social and sometimes another channel such as SEO or advertising. They care initially about fan counts, and once their presence is larger, they want engagement. They don’t know how to measure engagement, which means they are not sure how to optimize in a scientific method. So they buy a number of tools and spend money, since Facebook and their ad agency tells them to, plus their competitors are doing it.
- Customer care manager: They see Facebook as an extension of the phone and email channels, which means the page is a complaints board that needs moderating. In retail, they can’t avoid customers who complain, so they spend their day responding to the wall. They also buy tools — primarily wall management. But as their presence grows, they can’t keep up, don’t have resources, and soon have a polluted channel. Without the coordination of other marketing channels, there is no branding power, just a reactive apology center. This person is usually lower level, as the brand hasn’t figured out a strategy for brand management and the integration of multiple paid and organic channels.
- Direct marketer: They are held to return on investment, just like their counterparts who manage pay per click or direct mail. They live and die by the holy metrics of conversion rate, margin, and ROAS (Return On Advertising Spending). Brand investment or nurturing of the customer relationship doesn’t matter, since every touch is measured by how many conversions happen immediately in that visit. So they continue to spend money on bottom of funnel marketing that is less about demand generation as opposed to demand collection. They don’t realize or pay credence to an early touch or recommendation that can lead to a sale later. This is especially true in B2B, which has a lengthy funnel. Attribution modeling is in its infancy, so this problem will linger for quite some time.
Recognize any of these three as your role? It’s like the blind men and the elephant. I met with a telecom company to discuss their social media strategy (name withheld to protect the guilty) and pointed out that customers were complaining in droves on their Facebook wall. Their head of customer care, the guy who runs the call centers, pointed at the social guy. But the social guy assumed that it was a customer care function. We see this all the time.
The fundamental issue is that social media is not just another marketing silo. Rather, it’s a layer that cuts across all marketing functions (and even beyond marketing). I feel bad for the company that appoints a VP of Social, unless that person’s role is primarily spent on coordination vs. execution. The moon doesn’t generate its own light — it reflects the light of the sun. Your social media channel doesn’t need to produce its own content, it need only leverage the power of your existing brand assets.
Your brand’s success on Facebook is a matter of how well you can connect people who love you in the real world — not Facebook fans, but real-world fans — to hit the Like button on Facebook. It’s hard to like something you don’t already know about. I’m not saying you can’t do customer acquisition with Facebook. Instead, I’m saying the first step is to harvest the low-hanging fruit of customers who already know you. And only then can leverage the recommendations of those fans to drive new fans. This “friend of fan” targeting yields often a doubling of CTR (click-through rate).
So ask yourself:
- What is the gap between your real-world presence and your Facebook presence? Perhaps look at your monthly unique visitors and compare that with how many active visitors you have on Facebook. Perhaps you have a portfolio of products — if you’re the NFL, you have multiple teams with multiple players. If you manufacture soaps and shampoos, aggregate your portfolio there.
- How are you doing vs. competitors and similar companies? Do you know how you stack up not just in audience size, but quality of that audience measured by engagement rate, conversion rate, referral rates, and even metrics such as Net Promoter Score? Yes, there are ways to approximate any of these metrics, which will be the topic of a separate article.
- What is a fan worth to you? Now, this is a trick question, because it assumes that there is a value for fans in the real world, that you are able to capitalize upon it, and that you can measure the overlaps with other channels. Yes, your social media can impact your in-store sales in the same way that a TV or radio campaign can. And your TV campaigns will drive traffic to Google and Facebook, while your Facebook presence can increase conversion rate in your email channel.
First, get a strategy in place — and then start measuring
Marketing is the fuzzy science (arguably more science than art) of allocating your budget between different channels. If you are the CMO or someone with budget authority, you have to decide how to spend the chips that you have. If you have a common metric that guides the allocating decision (and you should), then you must have in place a measurement strategy that encompasses the above channels. And as we’ve seen, Facebook is part branding, customer care, and direct marketing — so you must have weighting in all areas.
It’s 2011 and the game is just starting. But before you start hiring like mad, running ad campaigns, and buying tools like they’re going out of style, I recommend getting a basic strategy in place that is measurable. How else will you be able to justify that you’re adding worth to the organization, defend your existence, and fight the internal battle for more resources?