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Companies with a limited marketing staff or one that has fewer than 100 employees simply doesn’t have the bandwidth to internally execute social media effectively.

So, what are the characteristics one should look for?  This may be surprising, but knowledge of the medium is less important than the following:  understanding your brand; what messages will invite conversation; who are the posters/readers; the experience/knowledge to respond on the fly.   Ford Motor Company is an excellent example of how to respond and engage readers.

Sage advice:  Resist the temptation to hand all of the social networking duties to that one young hipster in your office who appears to “get it.” Otherwise you risk losing control of your brand message and turning a meager publicity effort into a public embarrassment.

If you’re going to start a Facebook or Twitter account for your company, give the responsibility to someone with poise, maturity, and tact, and then give them the freedom to do it their own way and figure it out for themselves. Ignore the “rules,” avoid the “gurus,” and let common social courtesy be your guide.

Guest Relations Marketing
Transforming Prospects to Guests, and Guests to Zealots

With Facebook being all the rage for marketers today and brands incorporating a Fan Page into their marketing mix, we felt it necessary to point out a few ways in which you can utilize the power of this online community from a Zealotry Marketing standpoint.

Here are a few ways to integrate Facebook into your marketing plan that will enhance the involvement your Zealots have with your brand.

  • Start by properly branding your Facebook page, to ensure you are maximizing this as a touchpoint and your marketing message is consistent.
  • Promote a “Join our Fan Page on Facebook” message to the current guests of your brand. They should be the first to know and the first to join. You will see the early supporters may be those that are your most Zealous fans. Watch the viral effect of your current guests joining & how far this takes you as a brand.
  • Provide ways in which your fans can spread the word to their peers. Facebook provides the ultimate referral – if someone is willing to support your brand in such a platform, and announce it to their entire community of friends, you already have the ultimate recommendation.
  • Consider a Facebook-only promotion to gauge the level of word-of-mouth chatter you can spread. Offer a special value or discount to your Friends and allow them to share it with their friends &  family.
  • Continue communication with your fans, send out weekly email updates. These are people who want to support you & hear from you, so use this opportunity to keep them informed from an insider standpoint.

All in all, Facebook is not right for all brands – but if it makes sense for yours ensure you are treating it as a valid & effective means of communicating to a great group of supporters, and work to convert your “Friends” into Zealots for your brand.

In light of yesterday’s dramatic (and thankfully safe) landing of US Air Flight 1549, where as most crisis situations can detract business, there is an opportunity for US Air to find some new Zealots in their mix.

MSNBC published a story today stating that within hours of the emergency landing, there was already a Facebook page called “Fans of Sully Sullenberger” online, a wonderful homage to the savior pilot. As of right now, there are currently now 45 Facebook fan pages dedicated to Sully (in 3 languages) with some amazing stats. One with 1,822 wall posts, one with 242,381 fans!

I’m reinforced just how astonishing the influence and speed of the online world truly is. With all these communities & individuals rallying around an employee of US Air, there are a few potential things the company could do to truly bring these people into their brand, making them brand supporters above just “Sully supporters” – and potentially Zealots for their brand.

  • They could contact each Group creator and thank them for setting up the forums in honor of dear Sully – and unexpectedly provide them a free flight or two for an upcoming trip. Oh, and consider the medium – provide it to them via private message with an online code!
  • Make a wall post on behalf of US Air on each Groups page, thanking each community for rallying & genuinely caring.
  • Make a YouTube video straight from Sully, personally thanking these supporters and “share” it on each page as a featured video.

All in all, these people who before yesterday could have probably cared less about US Air now have made a social statement to their peers by joining the group, as well as gained a personal connection to the brand.

What other things could US Air do to engage their new group of Supporters?

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