Social Media. Can you think of a hotter topic for brand engagement right now? Social media has become a galvanizing force on branding, marketing, and advertising. Its use by you and users can positively or negatively impact your brand’s image. The key is to invest in social media wisely and smartly for positive engagement. It’s a social change in how consumers engage with brands and an opportunity for your brand to build relationships.
Do you know how to fully adopt and integrate social media into your overall marketing or make it an essential part of your brand building strategy? Let’s focus on Facebook as one channel, although not the only channel, that specifically offer brands the opportunity to build their own Facebook’s page. Think of it in terms of its potential, connecting people in infinite ways. Everything on your Facebook starts with your page. The 4-step process to successful brand engagement is simple: connect to new fans with your Facebook ads, run multiple engagement apps, engage your fans with quality content, and influence the friends of your fans. How? Here are some ways to capitalize on Facebook’s features:
1) Run multiple engagement apps. Facebook provides access to a wealth of apps made for all purposes. This includes fun, interactive apps; apps that let you publish content such as images, videos, notes, etc.; and apps that linked to other social platforms such as Flickr, Twitter, and Pinterest. Give your customers, prospects, advocates, visitors, and followers a variety of ways to engage with your brand. What are some activities that they can do when they get to your social pages? The more activities that you provide, the better chances that they will return and the greater chances that they will spend more time on your page. Social sites such as Facebook provide brands with the options to engage with fans via apps. If you’re new to this or want to extend your engagement platform, check out brands for ideas to see what types of apps they are using to engage with their fans. Some ideas for consideration can include:
a) A sign-up form allowing them to subscribe to updates, specials, and other activities that they can participate in.
b) An engagement forum allowing them to participate in an open-ended inquiry or discussion, connecting them to other like-minded individuals while engaging with your brand.
c) A collection of media specifically for your brand or industry, including a sampling of your offerings, testimonies, project portfolios, and other topics of interest.
d) A user knowledge portal consisting of tools and FAQ’s to encourage self-service and provide helpful hints or tips to aid them in whatever they’re seeking.
e) A linked transition to your company website’s homepage providing them with other information of relevance.
f) An integration with other social media sites, transiting them to your Pinterest, Twitter, and other social media profile page, for example, enabling further interaction with your brand.
2) Include compelling videos and images for better visualization. When you look at Facebook’s timeline, what do you notice first? Images and videos capture attention. The way Facebook’s timeline is set up, it encourages videos and pictures. It’s a great way to expose your brand to your visitors. Images and videos are inviting. They evoke emotions that get people engaged and talking. People tend to notice images before the text. The first few seconds of them entering your page can determine whether they will stay on your page. Make sure to include images and videos, where appropriate, on your newsfeeds or updates. Have a unique, eye-catching page that delivers person-to-person content that’s not only relevant but also of value to your visitors. Let your imagery tell the story. Rich visuals make the best content as well as the best timelines, allowing your brand to stand out in the timeline and build affinity through your timeline. Take advantage of the timeline feature to create compelling social brand experiences for your fans, customers, and prospects.
3)Include calls-to-action. What’s a better way to engage your visitors than to share your post that encourages them to reply or participate online or offline? Make it a dialogue, instead of a static update. One-way monologue, even with the most ardent effort, may not be actively embraced by your fans. For example, if you’re sharing a campaign idea for your Halloween promotion, with an image of a collage of pictures of a dog dressed up in Halloween costumes, and asking your visitors to provide their opinion, you would want to post something like, “Simply adorable. Which one of these costumes is your favorite?” This is another opportunity for your visitors to interact with your brand. Remember your fans are keeping tabs on what your brand is doing via your newsfeed, and any solid call-to-action status update will encourage them to visit your page, and quite possibly respond, share, and/or like. Your updates should include content that get your fans excited, generate discussions, and engage them. They should be short and clear and include a call to action, price promotion, and sense of urgency (expiration date).
4) Include interactive live chat. Transform your Facebook page into engaging customer conversations by enabling your fans, customers, and prospects the opportunity to use “chat with me”. You can add live chat to your social media channels. Live chat creates a more personal and personalized connection with your audience. If you’re selling products or providing services, it’s a great tool to help you close the sale while they are inquiring about your products and services. If you’re providing customer support, it’s a great communication channel to answer their inquiry, leading to better customer service and satisfaction. Whatever your specialty or area of expertise, use live chat to deliver the right message about your brand, products, and services to your customers and prospects at the time that they’re most interested in what you can offer that will meet their needs. Live chat is another social media tactic that can help you convert prospects to customers. Depending on your business and your business needs, determine which team (sales, customer service, marketing, etc.) will best utilize this click-to-chat tool while serving your target needs. \
5) Include a theme on your page. What’s a better way to encourage repeat page visits than to make your page seasonally, promotionally, socially, or culturally relevant? Remember Facebook is a real-time social information exchange portal. If you keep your page fresh and showcase your brand’s creativity, you’ll be creating an inviting page that warmly welcomes your visitors to join in on the conversation, visit your page, or get and share ideas. Recharge your visitors with fresh, timely content, and make this a part of your strategy.
6) Use Specials features. Use “Specials” feature on your pages to communicate specials or offers that you’re running offline (e.g. in retails) and/or online. Be specific; include price, sense of urgency (expiration date), and any terms and conditions. Fans love specials and when they do, they’re more likely to like or share them with their friends on Facebook as well as other means – online and offline.
7) Use targeting features and choose your ads target. Facebook allows you to target by location (city, state, zip code, province, and country), demographics (language, gender, relationship status, education, workplace, job title, birthday, interested in, and age), likes and interests (TV shows, movies, hobbies, music, politics, books, and religion). Think of these as opportunities when it’s relevant for you to target by these factors to narrow your audience. Make sure you create ads that resonate with your chosen target audience.
8) Place ads to harness amplification. Consider placing paid ads with messages coming from you (voice of your business/brand) and paid sponsored stories (voice of friend) as promotional message to your fans. The latter allow fan’s engagement with your page, app, or event to be posted to friends of fans who’ve already “liked” your page. It’s your opportunity to increase brand’s awareness and exposure, increase sales or lead generation, and build a loyal fan base. Facebook offers a variety of ways to utilize ads: app ad, event ad, domain ad, logout page ad, mobile app install ad, offer ad, page post link ad, page post text ad, page post video ad, question ad, and typeahead ad. Check Facebook website for more information on these types of ads. Ads are a great way to acquire fans. Run multiple ads for each campaign based on your targeting preference from the above targeting types, varying the ad text, call-to-action phrases, and images.
Keep in mind that branding in the social sphere now involves some type of interaction and some type of result. Use Facebook as one channel to making every online social media encounter worthy of an offline experience. Engaged fans don’t just happen; they’re nurtured. You and your brand need to spend time and energy on figuring out what you want to communicate to the world for each one of the above points. What are the best ways for you to engage your fans and turn them into your brand advocates and buyers? Share your ideas and thoughts.