Social media marketing is no longer an experimental field. With fans 5 times more likely to make a purchase than non-fans, many “best in class” companies now view their social media activity from a strategic perspective.
In order to make sound decisions in relation to Facebook fan pages, marketing professionals require reliable data. Consequently it is essential to go beyond social media monitoring tools and interactively engage with Facebook fans, to reveal these insights.
Ken Kabischke, Head of Marketing, Questback Germany
Reputable companies and brands have no choice but to be present on social media platforms such as Facebook. According to a study conducted by the IT and telecommunications industry as- sociation, BITKOM in the spring of 2012, almost half of all companies’ surveyed use Facebook and other social media platforms for communication and marketing purposes. Most of them have one or more corporate social network pages. These channels are used to maintain contact with customers and potential customers, and to win new customers, as well as for brand management.
This behavior shows that the majority of companies and brands still do not understand how social media works. The recent A.T. Kearney study reveals that they are afraid to interact with customers and fans, and instead prefer to rely on conventional push marketing. One reason for this reluctance is that many of those responsible for marketing fear the risks involved in social media interaction.
On the other hand there are many positives for the relationship marketing manager, it is the power of interaction which social media such as Facebook deliver, that really enables their brand to come to life.
The Marketing Manager’s Dilemma
Marketing decision makers are thus in a quandary. On the one hand, they are aware that by interacting with the right fans, i.e with customers that are powerful influences in their online communities, they can effectively leverage value creation and brand building, since
- The right fans can become brand ambassadors
- Marketing concepts can be discussed and tested in a simple and efficient manner
- Feedback provided by fans can be used to develop new product ideas based on this information
On the other hand, marketing decision makers consider their own brands to be sacrosanct: the brand must be protected from any damage. That is why many marketers choose the safe and easy way out by refraining from interacting with their Facebook fans. However, this “head in the sand” approach is no longer competitively sustainable.
The safe way forward is to ensure that you enter the social media world with the following requirements as a guide:
- Security: Brands need a secure means of interacting with fans. That is the only way to reduce the risk of a negative experience. This means the brand must be able to initiate interaction, determine the amount of networking among fan groups and control this environment.
- Sound legal framework: Interaction is not a goal in itself but serves to strengthen the brand. This requires interaction to take place in a legally explicit framework that can reliably safeguard any resulting insights, ideas, or innovations.
- Know your fans: It is essential to be familiar with the profiles of the interacting participants in order to specifically address and interact with them. This means going beyond just monitoring activity, it means engaging in dialogue and doing surveys so that you develop a deeper understanding of your fans.
Challenge: Lack of insight
In particular the last item mentioned above – detailed information about the fans – is a closed book to many brand and social media managers. Large corporations have in fact collected thousands or even millions of fans. But as a rule they hardly know anything about their new “buddies.”
In many cases, questions such as the following remain unanswered:
- Who are my fans?
- What do they think of our brand?
- Are they really in our target group or did they perhaps merely become a (pseudo) fan to enter a sweepstakes?
- What is the difference between fans and “traditional” customers?
- How can I specifically engage with really valuable fan groups – such as brand ambassadors or as a source of creative ideas?
In order to answer these questions, marketing and social media professionals need to gain insight into the intellectual and emotional world of their brand fans. Brands have to understand what makes their fans tick.
A marketing investment in Facebook cannot be assessed, successfully managed, or shaped to create value in the long term until these questions have been satisfactorily answered. And only on the basis of this information will it be possible to determine standard marketing metrics, such as loyalty, purchase intention, purchasing power, the relevant set, and – a crucial factor in the social Web – the willingness to recommend, or the net promoter score (NPS).
Gathering these insights allows for comparisons such as:
- Are my Facebook fans more willing to recommend than my regular customers?
- How does brand awareness on Facebook compare to that via other channels?
So, it is important for the marketing team to have access to tools that do enable Facebook fan engagement, so that you can efficiently and effectively:
- Get involved with Facebook fans to learn more about them in a structured way, such as using survey tools designed for this purpose
- Segment fans based on insights gained
- Engage with them to optimize this relationship
Interaction between Fan and Brand
That is why companies and brands establish private interaction between the brand and its fans preceded by a structured interview process. Equipped with the appropriate app, Facebook fan pages are ideally suited for this purpose.
Customer Experience: Bosch
Bosch Powertools launched its Facebook fan page in May 2010. In doing this, the company was pursuing two objectives:
- To provide a platform allowing fans to share their positive experiences with the brand and to recommend it
- To make the brand more attractive for younger target groups
As of May 2012, Bosch Powertools has more than 20,000 fans. Bosch utilizes QuestBack’s Social Media products as its feedback solution because it seamlessly integrates with its brand fan page.
It operates as an exclusive brand community on Facebook and can be accessed using a Facebook app. Brand fans with this app installed receive access to this exclusive brand world. As a result they feel like brand insiders, and Bosch uses this group to ask them about their opinions and ideas and thus this group actively influence decisions at Bosch.
This relationship enables targeted, value-creating interaction between the brand and its fans. Enabling specific information to be obtained for marketing indicators, or to employ fans for joint product concept development or obtain feedback on marketing ideas.
Beyond Social Media Monitoring
Instead of merely tracking digital behavior, QuestBack’s social media products such as Social Insight Connect and the just launched Listen & Act product go beyond monitoring, providing insights into the intellectual, creative, and emotional world of social media customers and consumers. These tools are able to achieve this as they have an array of feedback and interaction solutions for this purpose.
Valuing brand fans
The value of brand fans can be determined by comparing brand KPIs. This is done by collecting the same KPIs from Facebook fans that are available for the “regular” target group. Four short survey questions for Facebook fans could include :
Are you a “friend,” “fan,” or do you “like”
brand on Facebook?
Please indicate how likely you are to consider brand for a future purchase.
Please approximate the amount of money you have spent on brand products in the past 12 months.
Please indicate how likely you are to recommend brand to a friend or relative.
Valuing the Facebook Investment
These insights help marketers in two respects: for one thing, they shed light on the brand fan base; secondly, key performance indicators (KPIs) and demographic data allow the Facebook investment to be justified on the basis of hard facts. In addition, these insights can be used to define a strategy for Facebook activities, if for instance it is easier to reach a specific target group via Facebook than through other media.
Forrester´s paper “The Facebook Factor” expands on this
- Blackberry has found that its Facebook fans are more likely to have made a purchase in the past 12 months, than non-fans
- Best Buy has discovered that Facebook fans are twice as likely to purchase from and recommend Best Buy
- And Coca Cola has revealed that even though 71% of online Americans purchase the product, Facebook fans have a 91% probability of doing so
Activity Analysis Tool Requirements
Whether companies and brands can benefit from their Facebook activities depends entirely on the amount of fan data they possess. That is why Social Media insight solutions, such as the QuestBack product suite are essential for Facebook activity analysis.
Equipped with these insights, “valuable” fans can be grouped in profile segments such as:
- Brand ambassadors
- Prospective customers
- Satisfied / unsatisfied fans
- Creative / critical fans
These segments are then used as a basis for interacting to create business value through; word-of-mouth marketing, direct sales, customer loyalty, and/or customer insight programs. This has been proven with Bain and Company recent findings that customers who engage with brands over social media spend between 20% - 40% more money with those brands than others and have a deeper emotional commitment (33 points higher) than customers that don’t, indicating a stronger level of customer loyalty.
And those brands that are taking insights gathered from social media analysis and feeding it back into their business into areas such as product and customer services team are the ones that are really generating value, as it allows them to strengthen their business proposition.
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