Earlier this year I co-authored the IAB and Microsoft’s Search & Social Media report with the delightful Amy Kean. Included in this I wrote about brands considering social network pages instead of microsites. Benefits include strong SEO performance and potentially improved user experience because people inherently know how to use the likes of Facebook.
Over the weekend I conducted a sweep of over fifty brand Facebook pages. A minority like Sainsbury’s, Debenhams and other retail, FMCG and electronic brands have clearly thought out pages that have obviously received a fair amount of invested time and money. The majority however looked like they need a little helping hand.
Why does your brand have a Facebook page?
Having a presence in Facebook is good, but if you’re going to have one, it’s critical to have an objective and then invest in it to make sure there’s a reason for people to visit and something to do when they get there. I’ve jotted down some thoughts below on how to get more out of Facebook pages (which could be applied to other social networks).
A non-exhaustive list of tips, but a list of tips nonetheless…
- 1. Enclosed environment: almost every brand I looked at had a number of links to content that open in a new window taking people away from Facebook to the main brand site or microsites. This feels like an unnecessary step and a slightly disjointed experience – opening new windows in this way is distinctly frowned upon on normal websites. The biggest problem with this is that many brands have two or three core activities on their pages, but I only got as far as the first before being taken away. It would be fantastic for brands to view Facebook pages as a more enclosed space. If you want people to see or do something, do they need to leave Facebook to do it? Facebook pages don’t have to replace microsites completely, but they can be their own unique property rather than a simple advert for the microsite content.
- 2. Video content: plonking a TV ad on a Facebook page, does not good content make. Yet, a large number of the brand pages I saw had the big budget TV ad as the centre piece of a Facebook landing page. Placing a short information blast built for a paid placement felt like a wasted opportunity, particularly as some brands had far more compelling content buried elsewhere. Jaeger, H&M and Marks & Spencer are three of many brands using custom online video on their main sites to showcase products. This custom made video content can easily be used on a Facebook page too. Ford does this well with interactive video on its Facebook page.
- 3. Regular incentives: some brands like Desigual offer the opportunity to join a membership/reward scheme, but it requires the user to go elsewhere. Part of the reason Dell has done so well in social media is because it rewards people who engage with the brand right there and then. Not every brand needs to offer discounts, but most brands can offer something helpful, interesting, funny or engaging. Like any content property, if you want to keep people interested, you have to deliver something worthwhile on a regular basis.
- 4. Clear messaging: the Facebook environment is simple, but too often I found it hard to find out what I was meant to do on a brand’s page. Aside from the odd ‘click to like’ I rarely found an immediate and clear call to action. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do, and I was purposely looking. Skittles does a good job of this with their ‘Mob the Rainbow’ campaign with very clear, plain English steps. Desigual does well on this front too with their ‘Happy Hunters’ campaign steps.
- 5. Interaction: lots of brands like Genius Bread want people’s ideas and interaction, but rarely is it possible to do this in Facebook. Not being able to interact in Facebook seems like a contradiction given Facebook’s main purpose. If you’re objective is to improve customer service, your Facebook page could be used as an interactive destination for help. I’m not saying all brands need to chat with their customers in social networks – I’d actually be wary of many brands doing this – but why not encourage the sharing of ideas in Facebook itself? Starburst’s ‘Contradictionary’ tool, while more a fun activity than a serious interaction, does this particularly nicely.
As with anything, Facebook pages are only worth doing if you’re going to do them properly, but there’s a particularly exciting tool here for brands. Unfortunately some pages I reviewed were fairly half-hearted and confusing, which may actually be more damaging for a brand than good. A shame when brands’ microsites were generally extremely good.
The good news is, this can easily be rectified. Facebook pages often ask brands to think and act like an online publisher or fan site operator, the challenge is understanding what skills are needed to deliver this, to keep your audience interested and ultimately deliver sales.
Hopefully these tips helped a bit, if you have any other ideas please share them below…