Making Facebook marketing work
For years, marketers have been aimlessly chasing fans on Facebook, but it’s time to step up and start driving real business results, a report by Forrester Research has advised.
According to the paper, marketers are failing to use the platform to its full potential because often, in the rush to start a Facebook page, marketers overlook setting clear objectives for the page. This lack of focus means fans may not get any real value from “liking” the brand.
Authored by Forrester’s vice-president and principal analyst Nate Elliot, the paper’s insights are based partly on the firm’s interactive marketing online executive panel surveys in the US and Europe, conducted in December last year.
Marketers also tend to misunderstand the platform, noted the report. “Facebook is unlike any platform marketers have ever seen — it’s like a miniature internet with its own set of rules,” it said. Facebook’s SEO, EdgeRank and its advertising algorithms don’t follow general internet conventions and marketers may struggle to understand how they work and evolve.
Many marketing organisations also lack appropriate manpower to run a page on Facebook, as they tend to underestimate the resources needed. Also, marketers tend to seek the wrong measurements, the paper found. “Too many marketers ask ‘what is the value of a fan,’ and not enough marketers understand their fans’ value in terms of loyalty and influence, or Facebook’s impact on their business.”
Many of these problems are rooted in Facebook’s anti-advertising policy, which only ended recently. The report noted that Facebook requires a constant flow of content, which for marketers can be challenging as content publication has not been a focus for it in the past. The platform also only has limited options for managing multiple pages or handling multiple languages.
Facebook also has a tendency of changing its rules without warning, which can cause problems. When Facebook once removed the ability to disable user comments, for example, it put pharmaceutical companies at risk of violating government regulations and forced many to close down their pages, said the paper.
Marketers also suffer from limited data as Facebook doesn’t allow third-party ad tags, forcing advertisers to rely on data provided by Facebook, which is, reportedly, “lightweight”. The result is that marketers are unable to compare Facebook campaigns directly with other channels on the internet and therefore can’t determine how important Facebook really is to their marketing mix.
Forrester has the following recommendations to make for marketers seeking to overcome the problems outlined in its report:
1. Set clear objectives
Facebook’s versatility allows marketers to choose from a range of objectives, marketers just need to clearly define what they want to achieve. Facebook pages can be used to generate word-of-mouth, direct marketing, engaging consumers to build brand loyalty, and even crowdsourcing for product development.
2. Provide value for fans
Give fans a reason to continually engage with the brand. Rather than focus on what they want to say, marketers need to give people a reason to be fans. Once they figure out who their fans are they can then use Facebook data to determine what content types are performing the best and who is responding to it. Social network communities also need to be kept active and engaged with content even when a campaign isn’t running.
3. Use the full Facebook tool kit to increase reach and engagement.
A brand page shouldn’t exist in isolation. Marketers should look to combine features such as ads, events and apps with the brand page to get the most out of the network. Facebook ads increase reach and sharing while events and location-based marketing engage fans in real-world experiences. Examples are Vitamin Water’s ‘Uncapped live’ events that took place in several cities across the US at once, and Mastercard’s promotions that reward people for checking into locations.
4. Integrate Facebook into your overall marketing mix.
Facebook isn’t a magic bullet that will replace all other marketing initiatives. Nor is it an island. It can be incorporated with existing web properties by features such as ‘Connect Login’ and share buttons. Adding Facebook promotions to broader campaigns will create conversations such as Corona’s ‘the most liked beer in America’ campaign that featured the faces of its Facebook fans on billboards. The community marketers have earned on Facebook can also be used to communicate other marketing programmes – increasing reach and gaining data from feedback and responses.
This article first appeared on Campaign Asia.