Facebook is the Storefront of the New Millennium
I know, I know – another lecture about the importance of social media, customer engagement and why one shouldn’t ignore Facebook. But give me a chance and you might just realize (this time) that it’s important enough to command more of your attention.
I was having dinner with an executive from a major e-retailer, someone who you think would have a firm grip on social web execution, and he was lamenting how bad his company was at “doing” social media. It wasn’t that he thought it was a waste of time. There just wasn’t much resonance or interest paid to it on a consistent basis from his staff or customers. And I know how frustrating it is, because here’s this easy-to-set-up, mostly free set of marketing tools right at our fingertips, yet we still struggle to find a measurable level of ROI from it. Why is that?
Everyone knows how important an effective online presence is to CE sales success. In fact, more than 90 percent of all CE purchases originate online in some way. And I’m going to make the case here that Facebook, and not your own website or brick-and-mortar location, is the storefront of the new millennium. Managing that storefront is as core to your mission as any market engagement you do.
The reality is, no one has a perfect blueprint for social media marketing success because every company has a different voice and the results happen live, so you’re forced to learn on the fly. My experience with SVS has involved a lot of trial and error to discover what gets people excited and what triggers silence, but I value those insights as much as or more than any other marketing data we gather. Here are some general things we’ve learned during our Facebook journey.
Insight 1: Grow your likes organically and engage your likers the same way. One line of thinking has been that piling up “Likes” quickly is the most important metric of social media success. This has not been the case for us. We slowly grew to 60,000 likes, never “buying” them with coupons or shady services. For this reason, we have a high level of engagement to our posts because the people who “like” us actually like us! If you have a lot of non-engaged fans, Facebook hides your posts from user news feeds, so they will never see them anyway. Facebook wants only relevant content in the newsfeeds of its users, so a bunch of non-engaged “likers” dooms your posts to Facebook oblivion.
Insight 2: Don’t lead with your brand. We’ve always been taught that promoting our brand is job one, so I know this insight feels a little weird. It can be tempting to use Facebook as a soapbox to highlight great service, selection and value, but a more effective approach is to let it benefit from “indirect sunlight.” Think about all the ways we engage people’s passions: For us, it’s music, movies, gaming, sports and TV. We use those passion points to engage our Facebook community, and the brand wins via the engagement we get to our posts, which always leads them back to us.
Insight 3: Let your fans be the stars. One strategy that has worked exceptionally well for SVS is user-generated content. Letting customers be the focus of marketing is not a new concept, but Facebook and social media make it easier than ever to share compelling stories and visuals. When you already have customers who love what you do and sell, it’s easier to capture that passion and excitement than it is to create it on your own. Plus, if one person loves their subwoofer enough to post a pic on your Facebook wall, chances are others feel the same way. All you have to do is ask in a way that captures the excitement they have created at home. When you think of social media as a two-way mass communications tool and not a broadcast tool, the results are much more interesting.
Insight 4: Be real. As I mentioned, there’s no fixed blueprint for success here, but I’ve always found an authentic approach, where voices from all parts of the company are participating in social media, is more resonant with your community. Any of a dozen people in our company, including myself, actively post on our Facebook page, and we all participate in a “smell test” of whether the post hits an authentic note.
Insight 5: Own it from the top and all through your company. There are plenty of outside firms representing themselves as social media “ninjas” who will promise you quick results. But as much as we crave instant gratification, a genuine, engaging and data-driven organizational approach will yield much stronger long-term results on Facebook. Don’t farm your social to an outside firm, and don’t even farm it out internally to a social media department. Let it exist within the DNA of your entire organization, and you will give it the best chance to work.
Insight 6: Pay attention to the company you keep. One way to get on the right path is to work with partners who are active on social media and generating great content that gets people excited. We often “cross-post” with our retail partners to drive energy to them and to bring our brand message to their customer base. It’s a classic win-win, and it’s largely free! Perhaps it’s self-serving for me to say it, but it’s always better and more rewarding to work with partners who understand and flourish in this exciting new market-engagement space.