Having recently read an article titled “Think You Need a Company Facebook Page? Think Again” by a co-worker of mine, I have to respectfully disagree with some of his bullet points. I believe that a strong, well thought out, and well maintained page on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social networking site can be an invaluable resource.
It doesn’t matter if you are running a local dry cleaner, local bar, nation-wide restaurant chain, or a worldwide brand. When properly designed, implemented, and executed, having social networking for your business can increase customer loyalty and retention, which in turn can lead to higher new customer acquisition, as well as becoming much more efficient at recovering from a service or product failure.
In my coworker’s article, he mentions “They aren’t there to buy things.” This is very true – which is why you should not focus your Facebook or Twitter account as a free way of a direct advertisement. When people log into their social media account, they want to see people, not products. So this is your first lesson – humanize your product or service.
Graco, a division of Newell-Rubbermaid, did an excellent job of humanizing their product. Back in 2007 when they first decided to start a social media campaign, they had a female member of their marketing team start a Facebook page talking about parenthood. Lo and behold, within a few months she and her husband were expecting a baby of their own. Therefore she started posting and blogging about her own experiences, and developed a very loyal following from expecting and new mothers.
Well, what if you don’t have a worldwide company like Graco? As my co-worker pointed out, “The greatest quantity of Facebook patrons are under 35 years old … College student’s won’t have cash to buy your stuff!” Identify your target market and do not over post. I remember there was a local restaurant up the road from Florida State University, where I attended for my bachelor degree, who did a WONDERFUL job of marketing to the college students.
The head bartender, John, headed up the Facebook page. John became the face of the restaurant, and would almost every day put out a special for Facebook friends. By making a very slight sacrifice off the top line, it greatly increased the bottom line due to selling complementary products, as well as higher quantity sales. For comparison, there was another restaurant I followed on Facebook who let any bartender post on there: they posted too often, and it quickly got annoying and they were deleted off my page.
Let’s look back at Graco and the following of new and expectant mothers. They had tens of thousands of followers – and they did so because they followed my next rule – Keep it relevant. Many mothers would read her daily blog postings about pregnancy and motherhood, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook, where she would post recalls for baby-related products, new research findings, and general parenting tips.
She would also talk about new and upcoming products that Graco was offering, but never in a direct marketing sense. She would talk about her own experience using it, and how much she liked it. What they found out was these new mothers were taking her recommendations as one would take a friend’s recommendation. This helped with new customer acquisition, and greatly increased customer retention.
Another interesting development that came about was feedback and customer retention. When mothers had a product fail on them, they would generally go to the Facebook, Twitter, or blog for this particular lady and complain about it – not to Graco themselves.
The lady then would immediately forward this over to the product development team, and they were able to take care of problems within hours or days, instead of weeks as it took before; this lead to an unbelievable increase in customer satisfaction. What’s the lesson here? Pay attention to your feedback on a daily basis (at minimum), and take all feedback seriously. John did a similar thing with his local restaurant, and the owner would quickly email back with a solution to the problem, thus retaining the customer.
So all in all, if you are willing to monitor and maintain your social media account, it can turn out to be the most efficient part of your marketing plan. However, if it is not utilized properly, it can be the most detrimental to your company’s image. So follow my advice – Humanize your product or service, Identify your target market (usually younger) and do not over post, Keep all posts relevant, pay attention to your feedback and take it all seriously, and you can develop your own thriving online presence.
This is a guest post by Russell who has a specific interest in social network marketing, and marketing in general using the direct response methodology. He works Response Mine Interactive, an e-marketing agency specializing in customer acquisition. In his spare time you can find him hiking, mounting biking, or entertaining friends and family.