facebook: remember, if you don’t like it, you can’t participate.

In recent months ‘We Engage’ has looked at dozens of companies marketing in facebook as a part of our initial complimentary reviews of company engagement. 

While our central focus has been to catalogue weaknesses in the scope, quality and velocity of overall brand engagement (including customer service and marketing), we are seeing several ‘wrecking ball’ issues that defeat efforts being made to engage and build the social network, no matter how brilliant  original promotional concepts may have been.

Two issues that come back to basic brand development and marketing ‘101’ are:

First, the number of companies that don’t require (I said require…not ask for) a ‘like’ in return for allowing participation in promotional offerings.

Always make sure that ‘liking’ your business page is a prerequisite to the customer or prospective customer being able to participate in any form of value based promotional activity.  That means, ‘like’ first or don’t participate.

While posting on a business page wall to discuss a brand may require a ‘like’ subject to the basic options in the facebook user interface, downloading/printing a coupon, an e-book, acquiring a unique reference number, or following a link from a wall does not necessarily require a ‘like’.  There are several different ways to make a promotional offer that are contingent upon receiving a ‘like’ in facebook.

For example, after creating special tabs for ‘offers’ or ‘discounts’, it is possible to include some simple code on the page for revealing the content of the page only after a ‘like’.  It is also possible to restrict the downloading or printing of coupons until the ‘like’ has been given. (see this example)

Please don’t forget, the purpose of the promotional effort is two-fold.  One is to put the customer in contact with your brand and to experience your product or service.  The other is to ensure that once the promotional investment is made, customers are accessible for additional offers and promotions.  Building the accessible network is a fundamental goal in all media including social media.  Each promotional event should widen your reach for each subsequent event and increase the potential for reference based participation.  This is not new.  The same principles applied to email and telephony and capturing the contact details of customers with paper coupons or gift cards at the point of sale.

Second, if your business has more than one facebook account (many franchise businesses, multi-brand, multi-product and multi-national businesses fall in to this category), make sure you have set precise standards for naming and logo usage.

Many significant organizations now have major ‘search ability’ and recognition issues in facebook because of variations in the way their page names are spelled or the failure to adhere to standard brand marks or logos…or both.  Call me crazy, but I thought we had supposedly put this one to bed when librarians worked out standard procedures for storing and recovering papyrus manuscripts in the libraries of Ancient Egypt.  If not, then certainly more recently in  libraries using index cards and microfiche (remember microfiche?).  Standard procedures for filing/cataloguing any thing, anywhere are not new.   The problem didn’t arise because of social media.

I look now at organizations like the Los Angeles Times and marvel at how some of their facebook pages (they have over 20) will only come up in a search titled “Los Angeles Times” while others will only come up in a search titled “LA times”.  Additionally, choice of logo seems to be a ‘free for all’.  These people are journalists for goodness sake.  If you catalogue and mark your page correctly (consistently), they will come.  If you don’t, you will be invisible and gather dust while sitting on the shelf.

Do any of these issues affect your brand?  If so, perhaps you should devote some time to reviewing the fundamentals of your engagement efforts in social media with ‘We Engage’.

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