Facebook is constantly innovating and introducing new services that have an impact on the social media environment at large.
Most notably marketers and brand managers can look forward to Facebook Places and Facebook Deals – innovations that make an even stronger case for social media in the mobile arena. Already launched in the UK and US, local companies can look forward to having access to these services in the next couple of months.
Used independently or together these services are simply powerful stuff. Facebook Places, a location based service, gives brands the capability to set-up their “place” on Facebook. Users can then check into a place with their mobile phone, telling their Facebook friends where they are and connecting with friends nearby. From a business point of view, this will open up marketing opportunities to wider or brand new target markets.
Through Facebook Deals, retailers and other merchants can offer special deals to the users who check into their “place”. Users who take on the deal then tell their friends via the news feed that they “got R50 off a pair of jeans” or “a free muffin with their cappuccino”. This gives the brand a great advantage as their customers are now punting their brand through word of mouth – the most effective form of marketing.
Social media marketing opportunities
Using the inherent features of Facebook and the constantly evolving platform, there are some incredible marketing opportunities available on Facebook:
· Socially activated crowdsourcing: send out a call to action to your community to become intimately involved with your product or brand. This can be applied to the full development life cycle of a product – from branding, naming, copy and even sales. You know that your product will be successful because your customers are the ones who designed it and land up selling it for you. This can be achieved through a series of campaigns on your fan page, supporting functional and interactive tabs and a well planned content strategy, each with social sharing features which allow the fan to market the brand for you by word of mouth. See an example of what Vitamin Water did here <http://techcrunch.com/2010/01/07/facebook-vitaminwater/> .
· Social e-Commerce: You can even go as far as selling your product on your Facebook Fanpage by adding an e-Commerce tab. The added benefit here is that, when somebody buys one of your items, it is possible to post that action to their profile page – instant word-of-mouth circulation. Have a look at how Delta Airlines offers ticket Sales on their Facebook page here <http://techcrunch.com/2010/08/12/facebook-delta/> .
· Social philanthropy: for brands such as banks or insurance companies, a good idea is to support a cause to which users may be familiar with. The incredible thing with the Facebook platform and its range of features and facilities is that you can allow your fans to be involved in your philanthropy giving them power to have a say on how and where your philanthropy should be applied, making your fans feel good about their actions and your brand, and of course marketing the cause by word of mouth.
Tools aside, a solid content strategy for your social media campaign is a must. How often have we seen communication debacles on Facebook Fanpages where a situation could have been dealt with more strategically. Examples of this include the Nestle catastrophe where Greenpeace created a parody video <http://www.allfacebook.com/the-facebook-nestle-mess-when-social-media-goes-anti-social-2010-03> of the company’s KitKat candy bar and the resulting fallout.
A strong content strategy is invaluable and you should keep in mind that this strategy is not about a daily post on how wonderful your product is. As with any social media activity, your comments and posts must always be relevant and need to resonate with your community.
Social media is becoming ever more relevant in our country and we are even seeing newspapers like Business Day talking about the possibility of replacing email with these new platforms. We bet that Facebook will be leading the way.