Every day, excellent brands offer outstanding value through FB, yet many fail to extend their network in FB. Some slug away, clueless as to the reasons for their failure, while they post, link, follow, upload and micro blog (yes, whether it’s 140 or 420 characters, it’s still a micro blog) for months and even years in FB without any significant growth of their fan base or their related sales.
When a business page is created in FB, the means to broadcast, consume and share content is created. Nothing more.
To exercise those means, other networks in FB have to consent to receive content from your network.
‘Liking’ a business page and becoming a fan is the equivalent of giving consent to a brand to publish content into your network. When a business page is ‘liked’, consent is given to receive the brand’s message in a personal newsfeed (and from February 2011, the newsfeed of another business page). Business pages have achieved equality with personal profiles in network politics.
In order to obtain this consent, the brand must demonstrate relevance to the customer. In order to demonstrate relevance, contact between the brand and the customer has to occur.
How can this contact occur when the customer has yet to give consent to the brand and the new network has no fans in FB?
Provided the brand promise offers value, in social media marketing, 80% of success is overcoming this causal dilemma. The other 20% is a lot of things including content, consistency, sanity and karma.
So, the brand doesn’t have a social network in the beginning. It doesn’t have much of anything. It certainly doesn’t have a significant audience or any form of consensual engagement with potential customers. Following others and consuming their content isn’t the answer.
The noise made by a brand posting to its own FB page is like the noise of a bee buzzing inside a glass jar with the lid firmly affixed. That’s no noise at all if you are standing outside of the jar.
There are literally millions of small brand curators buzzing away inside their little glass jars inside FB. FB is not one social media network. It is millions of interlinked network private networks coexisting within one software application and URL. Some much smaller and much less interlinked than others.
If a bee buzzes inside a sealed glass jar and there is no one inside the jar to hear it, does it make a sound? A web 2.0 application for an old existentialist riddle.
As far as social media networks are concerned, the answer is “no”.
So the new network dilemma in FB is:
“In order to build a new network in FB, a brand has to demonstrate its relevance and gain consent to publish to other networks in FB. However, the new network can’t demonstrate its relevance because it has no connections and is unable to publish to other networks. So, how does the brand build its new network in FB?
To wit, when you first realized you needed 25 ‘likes’ to get a unique URL in FB, what did you do? Did you post to your page wall where no one was listening in pious hope that if you posted, the network would come? Did you pick up the phone and start sending emails to ask people you already knew through your existing networks and channels to clock up those first 25 ‘likes’? Maybe you joined LinkedIn and the Social Media Marketing Group where you could find a list of 7,000 people who will ‘follow back’ your page in FB. Maybe you ‘arm twisted’ all your personal ‘friends’ in FB?
Whether you have zero ‘likes’ or 5,000 ‘likes’, new ‘fans’ are best reached outside of your fledgling network in FB and very likely outside of FB itself. The only edge offered to you by your initial tiny following in FB is the marginal possibility that your few fans will ‘share’ your posts and content within their networks. Don’t hold your breath waiting for this viral miracle. There is a powerful FB etiquette that rails against spamming friends with shared posts from business pages and creating viral content is a hit and miss affair at best. Buy a lottery ticket instead.
Suffice to say, hoping the ‘share’ button gets used is not a viable FB network growth strategy. Larger brands will grow organically as they are searched for and found by existing customers in FB. This type of organic growth doesn’t amount to a proactive marketing strategy either.
Sure, you can try FB or LinkedIn advertising too. Use ‘pay per click’ and target your customer using your page ‘Insights’ data or target using LinkedIn profile data. When you are done, calculate the cost of acquiring a new ‘like’ and ask yourself what it would have cost if you had reached out through your existing channels first. Email, direct mail, direct marketing via telephony and point of sale (POS) to name a few.
This causal dilemma has numerous implication for the intending FB network builder. Chief among them is that if you are building a network in a particular channel for a brand, you had better get the message out using a dynamic combination of alternative social media applications and traditional, web 1.0 and web 2.0 based communication channels. Relatively few are listening to you inside your new FB glass jar (even if you are the greatest orator since Pericles).
When TV appeared in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the owners of fledgling TV networks had little content, few channels and small audiences. Where did they go to market their TV content offerings? Radio, newspapers and cinema. Competing and preceding content distribution channels. You’ve seen advertisements by Living Social on TV. So it has been through numerous revolutions from one communication medium to its successors or usurpers.
This unsophisticated dilemma is a condition belonging to the transition phase from traditional media and web 1.0 to web 2.0 applications like FB.
As social media applications mature and develop, more brands will move into a competitive phase where large scale inflows of customers into social media have subsided and the task of growing a network becomes a matter of fighting with competitor brands for relevance and engagement in the eyes of their customers.
So, give some thought to shouting through loud halers, using email, surface mail, leaflets, radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, conferences, trade shows, FB & LI advertising, networking events, web sites, blogs, groups, point of sale, marketing alliances and other social media applications to bring attention to your new FB network.
Definitely employ giveaways, coupons and sweepstakes to drive traffic from other networks and channels into FB. Just remember, if you just post, they won’t come.