Any brand wishing to cement real relationships on Facebook would do well to think of its consumers in terms of friends rather than customers and to pay them the appropriate kind of attention.
Be a friend to your customers? That might seem a bit odd when we’re talking about marketing. However, this is the advice that Flora Caputo, Vice-President and Executive Creative Director of Jacobs Agency, a customer engagement specialist, gives to all firms planning to launch a marketing campaign on Facebook. In the latest issue of Business Review USA, a magazine dedicated to 2.0 Marketing and the new information and communication technologies, Ms Caputo lists the various ways of exploiting this kind of strategy. All of them are based on the idea that a brand needs to transform itself into a friend in its own right if the campaign is to be successful and create customer loyalty, because, she stresses, "people seek a personal connection, even if they are interacting with a company."
Be there at the right moment, just like a good friend
It will of course come as no surprise to hear that in order to be a true friend, a brand needs to spend time on its fan page. "Neglecting a Facebook page essentially translates to ignoring a friend," explains the Jacobs Creative Director. In addition, her article quotes a remark by AGBeat, a media specialist in the new technologies, that when it comes to posting, “the ideal number is between 5-10 posts per week as a brand, and as a media company, this is typically 4 to 10 times higher.” Flora Caputo also underlines that a friend will know the best time to contact his/her friends. So it would be wise for a brand to find out the days and times when its customers are likely to be available to read its posts. In general, “some of the best times for activity are before or after business hours,” but everything obviously depends on“your brand’s target and industry.”Flora Caputo also points out that "relationships are two-sided". A company should therefore “share who you are” with fans.
Engage only if it’s beneficial
So she recommends making content "warm and personal" and posting photos. For fan engagement, research shows that photos rank the highest, followed by status updates, then videos, music and links. She advises companies to ask for comments, using polls,promotions and direct questions – and to accept with a good grace that not all feedback will be positive. As between two friends, some negative feedback is "part of the natural conversation," she insists. To conclude, Ms Caputo reminds companies that “before boarding the Facebook train,” they need to think clearly about their objectives. "Ask yourself, ‘Is my target using Facebook to search and engage with my product, service or industry?’ Facebook is good for audience engagement, but is that engagement truly benefitting your brand?"