Facebook brand pages: Differentiate or die

by Simona Stavrova on 2012/08/23 · 34 comments 14,931 views

in e marketing 101 serving a need,e marketing 101 social media trendwatch,great guest posts

Since its IPO, Facebook’s stock has dropped 47.7 percent to under $20 a share
Investors are unconvinced by Facebook’s long-term growth model.
In business, Facebook resonance means me-too content will not cut it.

ComMetrics - CyTRAP Labs - guest blogger - Simona Stavrova - THANK you for a great blog post.A while back we had a series of posts that addressed the question, Is Facebook engagement obsolete? This guest post by Simona Stavrova is a timely follow-up reporting on recent research regarding the challenges brands face when trying to foster engagement and have a conversation on Facebook.

Why this, why now?

This blog post arose through discussions about the effectiveness of Facebook as a marketing communication tool in the way that it is currently used by brands. It also led to inquiries about the possibility for increasing engagement to make the most of Facebook’s potential as part of the social media mix.Click on image - October 2010, p. 4: 'we asked consumers if they were more likely to purchase from a brand after becoming a FAN on Facebook, and only 17 percent of US consumers reported that they are more likely to buy as a result of LIKING a brand. So do these findings support or debunk the myth that a FAN is worth US$136.38?'

Due to its huge user base, Facebook is considered an attractive way to reach a large audience. Lately, building a Facebook community, whether a page, app or contest, seems to be the answer to every marketing challenge. The social network promises to help brands, “reach the right audience for their business and turn them into customers”.

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Does Facebook deliver the right audience?

Have we found the answer to building a relationship with our current and potential customers? If only it was that easy.

Studies have found that

a) Facebook audiences do not engage with brand-created content,
b) Likes are not a valid measure of success, AND
c) the credibility of Likes has come into question (i.e. people or paid spammers?).

The low engagement generated by brand pages (i.e. people clicking on a link and reading the content) leads to the conclusion that Facebook is not a useful communication channel, especially in terms of generating sales.

Why is Facebook engagement so low-level?

To answer this question we must consider the average user’s motivation to join and use Facebook.
Click on image - Facebook stock falls 47.7 percent since IPO to below $20 - end of lock-up period sees shareholders log out.

A study by Hunt, Atkin and Krishnan did just that. They concluded that motives for being on Facebook are related to interpersonal communication, self-expression, entertainment, and passing time. Entertainment in particular was indicated as a driver for participation.

If people on Facebook are largely seeking entertainment, what are the implications for the brand-consumer relationship, and reasons for connecting with a brand?

Researchers at the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council surveyed 1200 consumers who use social media to engage with brands about their motivations and expectations. According to their findings, a Like indicates a wish to fulfill two main desires:

1. become eligible for exclusive offers, discounts and promotions, AND
2. share personal experiences and opinions about the brand with like-minded people.

So, most Facebook fans want to connect with their friends, entertain themselves and occasionally get a discount coupon, which means even though the audience is large, it is also largely uncaring.

ComMetrics - CyTRAP Labs - Participate in our poll, your vote counts! THANK you.What do you think, are these fair-weather fans or loyal customers?

Cast your vote and join our panel of experts!
To complete our poll right now, please visit, Social Media Marketing 2012: ‘Mid-Year’ Update – Biggest Challenges (grösste Herausforderungen). Merci! Thank you! Danke!

Should we disregard Facebook?

Not necessarily. What is important to consider about Facebook as a communication platform is that, in spite of its inability to encourage consumption through engagement, it is a powerful tool for spreading a brand’s message, including word of mouth (WOM). People can interact with brands while communicating with others about them, thus creating a many-to-many communication environment.

This dual nature of communication on Facebook transforms it into a powerful tool for reaching a large audience not necessarily connected to the brand. However, it must be done right, and therefore you have to provide unique content that your clients value. A sweepstake will not do!

Click on image - Avira launches Facebook contest - After updates you get invited to join, but will you become a loyal and paying fan?

This also means brands should provide content that is worth sharing, rather than attempting to achieve the promised engagement.

Facebook is useful for raising awareness, as it allows messages to spread quickly and widely. Brands must understand the online audience and how their marketing messages fit within the user experience. Facebook is and should be regarded as just another piece of the puzzle, and its potential effectiveness should be considered when developing a marketing strategy.

Bottom line – take-aways

There are four things to keep in mind:

1. Facebook might not be an engaging platform for brand-user relationships, but due to its large user base, it cannot be ignored.
2. Instead of building a relationship on Facebook, brands should focus on spreading their marketing messages.
3. True engagement and real relationships are better left to other channels.
4. Differentiate or die: Offer fans unique and innovative content that represents value from their perspective!

How many fans actually bother to have a conversation with brands on Facebook? One study suggests 0.45 percent or less, and it concludes that having a Facebook conversation with a brand is not a top priority for consumers. Seriously, I only want to get in touch with my butter brand if I have a complaint.
Image - tweet by @richmeyer - Truth about branding via social media #socialmedia

More resources on Facebook advertising and engagement success

– Hunta, Daniel, Atkin, David & Krishnan Archana (June 2012). The influence of computer-mediated communication apprehension on motives for Facebook use. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 56(2), 187-202. DOI: 10.1080/08838151.2012.678717 Retrieved August 18, 2012 from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08838151.2012.678717
– Mangold, W. G., & Faulds, D. J. (2009). Social media: The new hybrid element of the promotion mix. Business Horizons , 52 (4), 357-365. Retrieved August 18, 2012 from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0007681309000329
Variance in the Social Brand Experience – study by the CMO Council
– 4 must-haves for going viral
Facebook: Why is nobody listening?
ComMetrics 2012 social media trends: Engagement
Xing Social Media Monitoring group – Facebook FIRSTS – trends you must watch out for

A question for YOU

Click on image for free sample - ComMetrics - benchmark your social media efforts - use our tool.

How do you measure the success of your personal or company’s Facebook page?

Please leave a comment;-)

TipSearch for more ComMetrics and CyTRAP sources on ROI, KPIs, benchmarks and measurement of social networking efforts (click to query).

Simona Stawrowa - Aarhus - CyTRAP Labs - ComMetrics.

The author: This post was written by social media marketing and strategy expert Simona Stavrova, who also writes about issues that connect social media with communication, and thrives on the challenge of making it all work well for business.
Connect with ComMetrics on Google+
Connect with the author: Email | Twitter | | LinkedIn or Facebook

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  • http://commetrics.drkpi.ch/articles/what-they-do-not-teach-you-at-lady-gaga-university/ Urs E. Gattiker

    @simonastavrova:twitter Simona, thanks for this interesting blog post.
    Very interesting is that you also provide links to the research articles so one has an opportunity to follow up on these.
    Looking at the material you presented it looks as if a manager has to carefully assess if Facebook does give one the ROI one has hoped for.
    Your blog posts provides much food for thought. Thanks so much
    Urs @ComMetrics:twitter

    • http://simonastavrova.com/ Simona Stavrova

      Thank you for your comment, @WebUrs:disqus !

      Yes, absolutely the ROI of Facebook has to be carefully assessed in order to properly formulate a strategy with realistic goals. It is important to compare the costs and benefits and ensure it is the right choice for the brand and its audience.

      Best regards,

      • http://commetrics.drkpi.ch/articles/what-they-do-not-teach-you-at-lady-gaga-university/ Urs E. Gattiker

        @simonast:disqus Simona, thanks for replying to me.
        I once tried to address the ROI issues also as they pertain to Facebook here:
        ==> Social media ROI: 3 things to watch out for

        But as the post shows, I am not totally satisfied that this can be resolved that easily.
        Here is one GREAT contribution for readers who prefer it in German:

        Bernadette Bisculm – Social Media ROI: Ist er berechenbar – oder nicht?

        This challenge is one we will continue to struggle with I am sure.
        Respectfully, Urs @ComMetrics:twitter

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  • http://twitter.com/data_nerd Carla Gentry CSPO

    Nice one Urs! In my experience, price is more product or service specific. I have seen cost per clicks and cos
    t per like at 20 cents and conversion was excellent but it was a College, same for some small businesses, they have kick ass social media presence and get lots of work from their ads but them some….. referring back to your excellent article. Same with advertising cost in other channels, say TV ads, you know the conversion/cost for say “fast food” is different that “luxury cars” correct?

    Excellent article, you can tell a lot of research/thought was placed on writing, hats off the author -> @simona.stavrova

    • http://commetrics.drkpi.ch/articles/what-they-do-not-teach-you-at-lady-gaga-university/ Urs E. Gattiker

      Thanks @twitter-119802433:disqus for the comment and as you state all the credit goes to Simona ( @simonastavrova:twitter ) who wrote this great post.
      Just one more wonderful post by a wonderful guest blogger (of which you are one yourself :-) click on text to get more posts )

      Of course I agree with you that the conversion costs for fast food are different then luxury products, absolutely. So you alk about Facebook ads and small businesses getting a great return from this type of ads. Interesting. My experience is very different but maybe I am doing something wrong? Care to share Carla?

      Thanks @data_nerd:twitter for taking the time to comment here:

      • http://simonastavrova.com/ Simona Stavrova

        Carla Gentry CSPO Urs E. Gattiker Thank you both for your comments and kind words!

        I also agree that the costs and benefits of social media vary among different product/service categories, just like with any other type of advertising, as you both mention. This is related to the nature of the industry, the expectations of the audience, the capabilities of competitors, etc.

        Most of my research so far has focused on luxury brands, so I would also love an example of a small business with a strong social media presence that gets a lot from its ads.

        Best regards,

        Simona Stavrova

        • http://twitter.com/data_nerd Carla Gentry CSPO

          In reference to small business success with Facebook ads, I can’t share too many detail because it is a client but I can say, be mindful in your set up of Facebook Ads (that is where the GOLD is) – treat this like a targeting search engine complete with locations, personal attributes and interest – if you get the mix right for the product, it will be joyously apparent :o)

        • http://commetrics.drkpi.ch/articles/what-they-do-not-teach-you-at-lady-gaga-university/ Urs E. Gattiker

          Thants @twitter-119802433:disqus I appreciate your feedback.
          Facebook Ads – okay but this would be more useful for a consumer company and not necessarily for B2B.
          Nevertheless, this is useful to know…. locations, personal attributes and interest.
          Mercie helpful indeed Carla @data_nerd:twitter for this very useful.

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