by Callan Green (MASHABLE)
Callan Green works in public relations and social media at Bailey Gardiner in San Diego. You can read her posts on the company’s marketing blog or follow her on Twitter.
When Facebook re-launched its fan pages earlier this year, companies were thrilled. At last, there was a solid way to have a presence on Facebook (), and users were actually responding positively. Within a couple of weeks it seemed as though every major brand had put up a page. However, very few are using them well.
Sure, anyone can build a fan page in under 10 minutes, and some big brands may even attract fans without any real effort. But even if you have 3 million fans, if the extent of their involvement with your brand is that at one point they “became a fan,” is that really benefiting you?
The fan pages that are doing it right are the ones that are actively engaging with their fans. These pages have creative content, two-way communication, active discussion boards, videos and images, and a fun and casual tone to match the medium. Below are five mini case studies of brands that are doing everything right when it comes to Facebook fan pages, presented so that you can learn by example. Please share your favorite fan pages in the comments.
The fan page for popular potato chip brand Pringles stands out mostly for its great use of video. While Pringles has created an inviting laid back tone, and managed to engage fan via reviews, discussions, and original interactive games, the most notable aspect of the page is definitely their use of video.
Because videos are so easy to consume, video is among the most commonly shared types of content online, which is why many companies strive to create videos that will go “viral” (be shared an exponentially growing number of people). Of course, creating a viral video is not easy. There is no ready made formula for create viral content.
Pringles, however, has recognized that its audience on Facebook reacts well to comedy and have used their fan page to catalyze the spread of a set of videos that certainly have the potential for virality. The videos are low budget productions with little editing or props depicting people singing goofy songs. It’s not much, but Pringles clearly knows its demographic, and the way Facebook works. By distributing the videos on their fan page, they’ve given users the chance to spread the Pringles brand to their friends without resorting to paid ad placements, which is exactly what thousands of people have done by “liking” the videos, an action which is then repeated in the newsfeeds of their friends and can potentially attract new people to the Pringles fan page.
The Coca-Cola fan page seems generic at first glance, but upon closer inspection it is really a testament to the brand’s commitment to user participation. First, Coca-Cola has taken the unorthodox step of displaying user created content in their main page Wall feed by default, something that most brands shy away from. That means that the page is really powered by user generated content, good and bad. That’s a bold move for Coca-Cola, but one that really demonstrates their interest in getting fans involved with the brand.
Another way that Coca-Cola stands out, is their approach to photo albums. Many companies simply incorporate an album of product pictures and call it a day, but Facebook offers companies a chance to get creative with photos, and Coca-Cola realized that. They have a number of albums showing off the product, workers at the company, photos of Coke fans, pictures of Coke products from all around the world, and pictures of old Coke nostalgia. Coke knows that their brand is an icon and people don’t just interact with their product by drinking it — they actually collect it. Their photo albums reflect that.
However, the best example of how Coke is truly committed to their fans on Facebook is the awesome story of how the page came to be. The page was originally created by two fans who just loved Coke. Coca-Cola found the page, and rather than trying to buy it or create another “official” page, they rewarded the two fans and worked with them to continue building the page and representing the brand. By empowering their existing fans, rather than trying to marginalize, shove aside, or steam roll them, Coca-Cola has been able to build on the connections that were already established with fans on Facebook before they even arrived in an official capacity.
Starbuck is clearly dialed in to the world of social media, and that is reflected in the Starbucks fan page. The page incorporates great videos, varied content, and has active engagement with the fans. But what makes it truly exceptional, is its use of status updates.
Status updates are an important aspect of any fan page because they provide two-way communication between company and fan, while keeping the page fresh with new content and information, which gives fans a reason to return. So many companies struggle to understand how best to utilize these updates and either don’t use them at all, update solely about product announcements, or update so often users become overwhelmed and the updates turn into so much noise. Starbucks, on the other hand, has established a good frequency of updates, sharing something new every couple of days.
More importantly, though, the content is varied, fun, and interesting. Their updates share videos, blog posts about all aspects of coffee — and not just on the official company blog — including how to grow coffee beans, articles about Starbucks and Starbucks employees. The tone of each update is informative and casual, and even their product updates are kept varied enough to remain interesting, for example, by offering up reviews of new music or books for sale in their cafes. As a result, the quality status update content has led to a very engaged fan base, with every update receiving thousands of comments.
The Starbucks Facebook fan page is a great example of how a company can still engage fans without the use of flashy apps, and instead simply focusing on quality content.
The Adidas fan page offers all the usual attributes of a strong page: active fans, a branded application, lots of content variety, plus, good video, pictures and notes. That’s all good stuff, but what really makes them stand out is the way they use their page’s tools to promote their other social media and advertising campaigns.
Running a contest on Facebook brings variety to a page’s content, engages fans, and has the ability to directly increase the company’s revenue by introducing new customers to the brand. Lots of brands attempt to promote campaigns on Facebook, but there are only a few that I have seen do it well. Adidas is one of those brands.
Most recently, Adidas teamed up with MTV to run an exclusive Facebook contest where a fan could win an all-expenses-paid house party. Their campaign was successful for a few reasons. First, Adidas chose a prize and partner that would resonate with the Facebook user demographic. Second, they wisely chose to promote the contest on their fan page not only before the contest, but after it had ended as well.
Once they had chosen the lucky winner, they used their page to share the fan’s blog posts, photos and video from the party. The integration of status updates, photos, notes and videos, with a smart contest, resulted in a whole lot of fan engagement, and keeping the winning fan involved even after the contest had ended showed their commitment to fans and helped them get extra mileage out of the campaign. The contest also gave the page content variety by breaking up the usual status updates with something new, fun, and with an included call to action for fans to get involved.
5. Red Bull
The Red Bull fan page is easily one of the best on Facebook simply because it has been able to break out of the typical fan page mold by providing fun content that encourages fans to interact with and ultimately connect with the brand. Their uniqueness is captured in their innovative incorporation of Twitter into their Facebook fan page. Integrating a Twitter () stream is not special on its own, but Red Bull doesn’t just pull in tweets from their official corporate account, as you might expect most brands do. Instead, Red Bull has aggregated tweets from sponsored athletes like skateboarder Ryan Sheckler and snowboarder Shaun White and included them directly in their Facebook presence. Associating themselves with popular athletes, and letting fans connect to those athletes on a separate social network (i.e., not boxing them in) gives Red Bull some instant cool points.
Their page’s “Boxes” section is also pretty darn incredible. Red Bull has built all kinds of content and applications that help them break out of the vanilla Facebook mold that forces all brands to look and feel more or less the same. My favorite app is one that lets fans rate phone calls of people who “drunk dialed” the Red Bull 1-800 number. It’s not only hilarious, but it also smartly encourages additional fan engagement.
Red Bull, which is a drink popular with teen and college ages kids, definitely knows its audience, and they’ve played to that face by categorizing their page under business type “pharmaceuticals.” Clearly, this is a company that understands their audience and knows that the best way to connect with them on Facebook is with humor, fun, apps that get people engaged, and by being creative.
The brands mentioned in this all benefitted from having a solid brand image and loyal following before they actually joined Facebook and started using social media tools. Still, they offer insights into what makes Facebook pages work for brands. The key takeaways are that you have to know your audience, you have to provide quality, regular content, you need to encourage discussion and engagement, and you must not take yourself too seriously.
There are thousands of brands on Facebook, and this post only had room to look at five. What other brands do you think are knocking their Facebook pages out of the park? Please share your favorite Facebook brand fan pages in the comments.