If you listen to a lot of the commentary about social media these days, you’re probably hearing a lot about how Facebook brand pages are becoming less valuable for content marketing. This article from Convince & Convert, for instance, aptly articulates a number of reasons why this may be the case, with the most essential point being that while brands may view their page as a community, they’re treating those pages more like a platform for delivering marketing campaigns.
Most Facebook “likes,” for instance, come from users attracted by an initial incentive who don’t return afterwards. That kind of “fan” is also much more likely to hide your brand’s posts in their feed. If that happens enough times, the Facebook algorithm will make your updates lower priority in your fan’s news feeds. And even when fans do come back to your page or don’t hide your posts, only about 1 percent actually engage. Again, that’s bad news, as Facebook’s algorithm uses engagement as a form of ranking.
But as the Convince & Convert article discusses, this isn’t a problem with the technology of the Facebook business page, but rather in how business owners are using it. Pages only thrive if fans feel like they’re part of an active, engaging, and interesting community, rather than passive, unwilling consumers at whom advertising is forced. Rather than focusing on gimmicks and shallow tactics, effective Facebook business pages delve deep to become rich content marketing platforms that fans won’t be able to help commenting on and sharing.
Don’t believe me? The proof is in the pudding.
Two Facebook brand pages that get it right
While not free from its fair share of social media stumbles (remember its massive Twitter fail?), McDonald’s has been killing it lately in its war with Taco Bell over the breakfast sandwich.
The war began when Taco Bell launched a series of ads starring real-life boys and men named Ronald McDonald who claim to love Taco Bell’s new breakfast items. In response, McDonald’s made fantastic use of its Facebook page in posting an image of a Ronald McDonald-style clown petting a chihuahua (reminiscent of the old Taco Bell mascot) with the caption, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” The photo received thousands of likes and shares and a ton of comments. While there was some trolling in the comments, the debate just fueled more sharing and commenting. Talk about an engaged community!
Pepsi already has a dynamic and engaging Facebook page, but it became all the more so with the Pepsi Exclusive program, which gives its fans VIP first access to their favorite pop artists. This can range from a look at the newest Beyoncé video to an entire concert sponsored under the Pepsi Exclusive umbrella.
Each post about the program is tagged with #pepsiexclusive, so fans can easily search for the latest information and post about their own experiences. When they do so, they make it easier for Pepsi to find their contributions and reshare their commentary — a move that makes fans feel appreciated and goes a long way towards fostering a passionate community.
How you can use Facebook wisely for content marketing
While garnering the same amount of engagement as these two major brands may be unrealistic for every brand, there’s still a lot you can do to make Facebook a viable brand-building tool. Of course, it’s a good idea to start by taking the time to educate yourself on theplatform’s marketing benefits. But the real key here is to truly turn your page into the community it’s meant to be with rich, varied content that really reflects the interests and style of your audience.
A few suggestions for doing this:
- Create interactive apps: Integrating an interactive app for your Facebook page is not only easy, it’s also bound to get more people clicking and sharing. Apps can range from videos to games, discussions, and reviews that encourage customers to tell the world what’s on their mind. If you have the budget, creating your own app can be well worth the effort required to do so.
- Provide exclusive access: Of course, one of the best ways to continually engage fans and create new “likes” is by providing exclusive access, as long as whatever you’re providing access to is rich and meaningful. #PepsiExclusive does this with events, but you can also provide exclusive access to deals or even to fun or particularly helpful pieces of content. You might, for example, write an extensive guide for a process or procedure you know your audience will be interested in, host it on a microsite and provide an access code to your fans. This way, they’ll feel rewarded with excellent — and free! — content just for returning to your page.
- Make good use of hashtags: While hashtags can be effective across the board when it comes to social media, they’re especially effective for brands that already have cult followings on Facebook. Nutella, for example, incorporates a #spreadthehappy hashtag throughout all of its Facebook content. This tag appears often in “vs” competitions (i.e., “New York bagel or New Orleans baguette?“), and is used to invite fans to share their own photos, videos, and recipes. Again, the hashtag makes searching easy, and it engages fans in a way that encourages their own creativity.
At the end of the day, Facebook is still a viable content marketing platform. It’s just up to brands and business owners to use it as such, rather than as a one-way advertising pitch machine.
Do you have additional suggestions for maintaining Facebook’s brand value despite the rise of paid placement on the platform? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.