Facebook: One of the Top 10 social media sites for business

Facebook: The Basics Defined as a ‘social utility that helps people communicate with people they know’, Facebook is mainly used by peopl...

Facebook: The Basics

Defined as a ‘social utility that helps people communicate with people they know’, Facebook is mainly used by people to share stuff with their friends, family, acquaintances and colleagues. Its founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, talks about how the Facebook platform enables people to share information through their social graph, i.e. the digital map of people’s real-world connections. Brands, on the other hand, use Facebook to build communities of advocates and engage with these communities using the functionality of the platform.

top 10 social media sites for business


Facebook provides a variety of different ways to establish a presence on the network:

Personal Profile: as the name suggests, this is the means by which people have a presence on the network. It allows you to share content and connect with the people you know. It’s important to take control of your privacy settings so you are only sharing the information you want to share.

Brand Page/Profile: organisations, brands and celebrities use Pages to engage with their Fans. Pages have functionality built in that is better suited to organisations.

Groups: people and organisations can set up a Group to share thoughts and collaborate around a particular idea or cause. Groups are often used to raise awareness of serious issues, such as Raise a Child with Just One Click with four million members, and less serious issues, such as I Don’t Care How Comfortable Crocs Are, You Look Like a Dumbass with 1.6 million members.

Places: organisations can set up a location-based presence that people can check into (a bit like Foursquare). At the time of going to press, Facebook was phasing out the check-in functionality and making location part of the main functionality of Facebook.

How Brands Can Use Facebook

The Facebook platform is designed to enable brands to:
1. Build communities. Brands normally use the various Facebook ‘Like’ adverts to acquire Fans based on their interests and demographics.

2. Engage with Fans. By using a Brand Page or Profile, brands can publish interesting and relevant content to their community and engage them in two-way dialogue.
3. Amplify your message. Brands can amplify the social engagement of the community members, i.e. conversations with their Fans, to friends of those Fans. The logic here is that sharing how a person has interacted with a brand with that person’s friends is much more powerful than standard advertising.
4. Socially enable your business. Using Facebook Connect, organisations can enable people to share actions they take on the organisation’s website directly with their Facebook news feed.
5. Sell your products and services. Brands are monetising their communities by turning their Facebook Pages into shops. ASOS is leading the way with its Facebook shop, where people can buy straight from the Page. The Page is integrated with the company’s e-commerce system, making the experience reasonably seamless. Alternatively, some are using social shopping applications, like Payvment and Shop Tab – who power Coca-Cola’s Facebook shop. Other brands are taking a more simple approach and are putting up a shop tab that redirects people to an online shop, e.g. American Airlines and easyJet.

There are some limited insights available to analyse how Fans interact with content shared on the Page. The types of data available are:

1. Basic demographics of Fans – i.e. age, gender, geographical networks.

2. Fans’ behaviour – how many active users, interactions over time, which posts created the most interactions?
3. Reach and interaction – i.e. the number of post views, the number of people talking about the Page, impressions per post.
It tends to be with regard to point 2, engaging with Fans, where the expertise of public relations is most often deployed – the idea being that the more engagement a brand creates via its Page with its Fans, the more its message or content spreads through the Fans’ social graphs. Facebook often cites the fact that for every Fan engaged, 120 friends of that Fan can be reached (120 being the average number of friends a person has on Facebook). Therefore, a Brand Page with 10,000 Fans can theoretically reach 1.2 million people through engagement on its Page.

Building a Brand Page

It’s free and straightforward to create a Brand Page for an organisation. It doesn’t need programming skills, as the functionality of the Page is modular. Hit the ‘Create a Page’ button, choose the category and add the functions you want, e.g. video, by following the simple steps given.

Once the Page is created, a number of basic tools on the Page can be used to engage Fans and spread messages through their social graph. These include:

1. Status updates – posting short text updates to all Fans.
2. Sharing photos and videos.
3. Native apps such as polls and events.
4. Custom apps – bespoke applications that create deeper engagement with the brand.
Successful engagement tends to come from authentic two-way conversations with Fans of the Page. Good examples are:
1. Oreos: the brand has tapped into what people love about Oreos – the nostalgia and memories of eating the product – and regularly runs memory-sharing initiatives.
2. Red Bull: the brand has created experiences and things to do on the Page that uniquely appeal to Red Bull fans.
3. Lush Cosmetics: the health and beauty brand really understands what Fans like about its products and is constantly engaging with Fans in a very human way.

Many organisations opt to create a Welcome Tab, which users see when they first arrive at the Page. Using a Welcome Tab tends to be a matter of preference rather than best practice. Some Pages prefer visitors to see the Wall, where the majority of conversations occur, as their first point of contact, or a Tab dedicated to a specific initiative or campaign. It is possible to set different Tabs to be the Welcome Tab.

Using Applications

Most successful Pages use a combination of human conversations plus competitions, promotions and interactive initiatives. Facebook’s rules dictate that any competition or promotion on a Facebook Page needs to be run through an approved third party application.

There are a number of companies that build Facebook applications, such as Wildfire and Modern English. Apps can be complex and involved (for example using various elements of a person’s Facebook profile) such as the Social Network Racer,74 a car racing game developed by Toyota, or very simple, such as self-serve sweepstake apps, which can often be rented for less than a few pounds a day.

Facebook Offers

At the time of going to press, Facebook is testing it’s much anticipated Facebook Offers product, with plans to make the feature available to all Brand Pages in the near future. Facebook Offers is the social network’s latest attempt to enter the social deal space after the shutdown of Facebook Deals.

With Offers, brands can provide offers and deals, such as get one free, discounts e.t.c., to Fans of its Page. The Brand Page admin posts the Offer in their status update and the Offer appears in fans’ newsfeeds. When ‘Get Deal’ is clicked the Offer is sent via email to the user and can be redeemed as a printout or on a mobile device.
As with other updates, users are able to share, comment and like Offers and admins can highlight and pin them to the top of a page. If a user selects a deal, privacy settings permitting, this will be automatically added to the user’s timeline.
Facebook describes Offers as a way to reward loyal advocates and create engagement, actively encouraging users to connect with brands they like and would want to receive Offers from.

Facebook Marketing Strategy

The strategy for any Facebook Page tends to be determined by the overall marketing and communications strategies, the behaviours of the audience and objectives of the business. Most good strategies involve elements of marketing, public relations and customer service and tend to blur the boundaries between the disciplines – audiences tend not to see or care about the roles and responsibilities of the different disciplines, they just want to talk to the organisation.

Social media industry analysts Josh Bernhoff and Charlene Li stated in their book Groundswell that a good way to create a strategy is to think about how the organisation wants the relationship between itself and its audience to change.
There is no one single way to plan a strategy for a brand’s Facebook presence, but it is good to think about the following when planning:
Audience. What does the audience do in social media – upload content, rate and review products or watch videos? Forrester’s social technographics research is a useful way of profiling audiences’ behaviour in social media.
Goals. Define what you want the Page to achieve, how it fits into the overall marcomms plan and set the KPIs.
Rules. Ensure that any internal or external industry rules and regulations are factored into planning. For example, with alcoholic drinks marketing, it is against the Portman Code to show people who look under 25 in marketing materials – which could impact on a strategy that involves users uploading photos.
Conversation strategy. What is the desired relationship between the organisation and the audience? What is the desired response from the audience?
Content plan. Devise a plan of content with which to engage the audience. This could be a weekly, monthly or quarterly plan depending on the strategy and content available.
Operations. Who will manage the Page? What will be allowed and not allowed? Develop response protocols for crises and reputation issues.

There have been a number of high profile examples of great uses of Facebook for particular campaigns:
Ford Explorer. Ford created an industry first when it launched its new car – the Ford Explorer – exclusively on Facebook. It streamed the launch live to its Facebook Page, ran a competition to win the car and built a widget where users could create their own car. The campaign was supported by paid media and PR. Overall, Ford is a great example of how to use Facebook effectively.
Papa John’s Pizza. The US pizza company asked its Facebook Fans to come up with a new pizza for the company, where the winner received a share of the profits from the sale of the new pizza.
Mad Men ad of yourself. Via a Facebook app, Don Draper and his team take details from your Facebook Profile and from it create a Mad Men ad.

Facebook and Reputation Management

While Facebook can be a great way to build and engage communities of advocates, it can also be the source of negative sentiment that damages a brand. People can easily set up Groups and Pages to express their dissatisfaction towards an organisation. They can directly comment on and even attack an organisation’s Facebook Page. For example, NestlĂ©’s KitKat Facebook Page was the target of an activist attack protesting against the company’s use of palm oil in KitKats.

However, if done well, a Facebook Page can be a great tool for managing a crisis. An organisation can quickly and easily take control of its messaging and communicate directly with its audience. Via the Page, it can immediately answer questions, tell the company’s side of the story and minimise the spread of mis-information. It is worth pointing out that an organisation needs to have an existing community on Facebook for crisis management to be effective. Trying to build up a community to manage a crisis is usually not successful.

Like all social media, the evaluation of Facebook campaigns is a heavily discussed topic. At the time of going to press, there was no dominant industry standard for Facebook evaluation. Taking the lead from traditional PR evaluation methods, Facebook campaigns can be evaluated by looking at:

Conversation triggers: the number of status updates, comments, photos and so on that the organisation will post to the Page to generate conversations.
Conversations created: the number of Fans of the Page and the number of Likes, comments and posts by those Fans.
Conversation outcomes: this measure is tied back to a business objective or marketing objective and could be anything from increased sales to reduced customer complaints, depending on the aims of the Page and how it fits into the overall marketing strategy.
In general, the goals of the Facebook Page should support the goals of the organisation and, ultimately, be evaluated against those goals.

Facebook is used by many types of organisations to do a variety of things from selling more products and managing customer service to creating positive sentiment and communicating useful information. The most successful uses of Facebook all tend to have a few things in common: defined goals, clear strategies and a thorough understanding of what appeals to the audience.

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