Check us out on facebook

Posted on May 16, 2011


I recently shopped from Hollister Co and while I was emptying the bag at home, at the bottom of bag it said “Check us out on facebook”. Then I was watching a Frito commercial on TV and it ended with a tagline “Check us out on facebook”. Next day I got a direct mail coupon from Gerber Foods and guess what it said? Yes, “Check us out on facebook”. What is it about this social media giant that makes every brand include it in their marketing efforts? What is with the buzz “check us out on facebook”? I am about to tell you just that.

While many people still think that Facebook is more of a fashion badge that one must have on their website or marketing material, there is a method to this buzz worthy tool. As a marketer there are four main objectives to utilize the Facebook connection.

1-      Increasing Brand value and search demand
If you were to run a search on Cheetos on Google, you will see that among the results on the first page, you wind find its Facebook page. So the more you are on Facebook or twitter the more opportunities you have to spring in search engine results. And when you see fan pages of these brands you feel that brand has a greater value over the rest. It is a basically an outlet to connect with your target segment. The key is to achieve an increasing number of brand followers.

2-      Means to sell: Getting to increase conversions
What most brands are doing is using Facebook page to test and present offers to incite consumers to make a purchase or a lead who might be fancied by a change in offer or service.  But different brands are using this option in different ways. Most brands like Victoria’s Secret reuse the same content o their website; so what if they have a high fan following? Fashion retailer Express and fast food chains of Pizza Hut actually give you the option to purchase on their Facebook pages. My question here is how many people are actually comfortable to make a purchase from Facebook? It would be great to see what really works. And mind you, just because you have a high fan following does that mean you have succeeded your Facebook marketing campaign? I doubt it!

The social media giant Facebook is providing more opportunities for retailers with Facebook Places. This move comes in response to mobile services such as Foursquare and web-based deal-of-the-day services such as LivingSocial and Groupon. It has been learnt that Gap gave away 10,000 pairs of jeans in 24 hours in the US, while Mazda sold 100 cars in Britain discounted by 20 per cent for Facebook users. ( American Eagle Outfitters took over Times Square during Thanksgiving to show off their special Facebook Deals. For a limited period visitors had the opportunity to get $10 off AE Jeans by checking into any American Eagle store on Facebook Places. How instant is that and how economical compared to a direct mail or even an email campaign! Pull Marketing at its best. Brands and businesses are increasingly using Facebook as one of their primary forms of online marketing. Rick Kelley, head of mid-market sales with Facebook, said coffee chain Starbucks has 20 million “friends” on Facebook, but only gets 1.8 million monthly visits to its corporate website. “That’s because it’s a two-way conversation on Facebook, and brands aren’t just trying to sell to you.” (

However, while I was researching for this blog, I came across another study that had a different fact that social media websites like Facebook do not really aid conversions. The report, collaboration between Forrester Research and GSI Commerce, analyzed data captured from online retailers between November 12 and December 20, 2010. The research shows that social media rarely leads directly to purchases online — data indicates that less than 2% of orders were the result of shoppers coming from a social network. The report found email and search advertising were much more effective vehicles for turning browsers into buyers. My experience tells me that when you track the consumer purchase pathway, Facebook marketing on its own can’t achieve sales but yes when combined with a well optimized website, email marketing among other things, it can do a lot.

3-      Build a database
One other reason that Facebook can be used is as a means to collecting leads. The drink brand WKD is using a highly customized FB page for competition purposes; it uses apps to collect data. Dove is a good example where they regularly have sweepstakes and competitions on their fan pages and all they are doing is collecting email addresses of those interested in the product. And their free newsletter subscription is the perfect call to action to create relevant leads. They are smart to collect not only the email addresses but name and age as well; they are definitely doing a great job at not only building their database but providing unique content and offers to create a community of followers.

4-      Customer engagement/ Creation of brand advocates community
Facebook is not a broadcast platform for your offers but an engagement platform where brands have the opportunity to fulfill goals of customer retention and referrals by creating a community of two-way conversations. Going back to Dove who invites consumers to share their ideas about health and skin care. Physicians, dermatologists, supermodels, and ordinary consumers volunteer to pitch their best beauty secrets in public forums that, in turn, influence other buyers. This ultimately also helps them in uncovering new product demand. A company that sucks in this platform is Gap who simply displays content. A company that intrigued me recently is Prestige Motors with the direct mail they sent me. It listed all the social media platforms(Facebook, twitter, YouTube and blog)  they were active on. When I checked out its Facebook page I was greatly disappointed. They did such a great job of reaching out well through these social media platforms but their blog and their fan page has mere press releases and dead content. Give me something I can relate to like maybe real life stories of how a bad accident couldn’t hurt the car or some new option that a user tried and the difference he felt; or even how managers are there to talk about issues like car service or rate the best model in the last five years.

The key to this is treating people like regular person not just a consumer and what a fun way to do it as stated by David Rosenberg, director of emerging media at JWT in the April issue of DM News. This is basically CRM at its best as Chris Miller, EVP and Group Management Director  for digital at Draftfcb explains, “If a client has 6 million Facebook “likes”, that is 6 million people you can connect with through the wall in a way you might not be able to in a traditional program. You are turning those likes into not just a number but an action.” In the same issue of DM news it has been learnt that companies like Microsoft are using these conversations to test new product launch all the year round. Who needs focus groups anymore?

A brand that really stands out for me is TGI Fridays. They are constantly answering queries like “what is the $5 drink this month?” and the way they invite visitors through their offers is very creative. It’s a very simple concept of digital marketing- You got the traffic booming, now engage them to stay with you forever. The key it to align your product type with the audience. The Red Bull fan page is a fantastic example that has unique content along with custom apps used throughout their page.
And the B2B arena is not immune to the social media marketing syndrome. Did you know that 41% of B2B companies have acquired a customer through Facebook? (Check this study out on to explore this discovery) “Compare the money made off a typical B2B sale (usually higher prices) with the resources spent setting up a Facebook presence – even one sale can make the ROI from Facebook huge,” rightly says Time Croteau, Web Strategy Specialist at eMagine.

As you can see it is all about making the right connection with the right audience and what better way than Facebook. Only don’t treat it as display network! In the end it’s all about monitoring the right metrics to gage the success of your Facebook efforts. So you may have a great following which means you have a great degree of engagement but then you need to track what actions they are taking when viewing your customer content or not. Like, say how many clicks your uploaded video is getting or how many responses you received for the competition featured.

And make sure you do not have content that appears dead to visitors. Instead if you have content that initiates the visitor to know more or take an action you will in the end increase click-through rates to your website. And track the content shares as that means you are getting referrals for free and it’s all through a trusted word-of-mouth effort. I would like to talk more about this as separate subject on my upcoming posting.

Before winding up I checked out the BJ’s website and guess what? No, they are not on Facebook. But when I visited their competitor Costco, they had the badge “connect with us on Facebook”. And they are doing good job with all the appropriate call-to-action links displayed accurately. Check them out on Facebook and if there are and other brands that you admire on facebook or if you are a brand who’s has had a success story you would like to share we would love to hear about it.

Check out on Facebook.