As a brand it’s relatively easy to acquire a Facebook fanbase. Submit a few details into the Facebook form, add a profile picture, put a link on a bit of business stationary, link to it from the company website or if you’ve got a media budget buy some Facebook ads. Soon enough you’ll start picking up the fans.
There are little tricks to maximise the conversion rate from visitor to fan. The main one is by adding a welcome page that non-fans see when they visit the page. Explain a bit about the brand and what they can get out of them by being a fan and you’re twice as likely to convert them into fans.
Building the fan base is all great for maintaining corporate pride, but statistically 50% of fans never return to the Facebook page again and 28% of them will eventually just hide wall posts after a couple of months. To these users, although they are signed up, the brand has absolutely no connection with them.
What this means is that it’s not about quality of fanbase (as it was in the days of direct marketing), but about the quality of fans. Having 200,000 fans is great, but if the majority are not engaged with the brand, they’re worthless. What’s more important is to engage with a selection of core brand ambassadors, who are listening to the brand and then sharing the content with their Facebook friends.
The best way to connect to these ambassadors is by giving them the opportunity to interact with the brand. When they ask questions or comment on wall posts, responses should be provided shortly with as much brand personality as possible. In turn, friends of the ambassadors will notice the their relationship with the brand and potentially get involved themselves.
To take things further; fans should be invited to feel part of the brand, as if they have influence over their products and services. Skittles is the best example of this with they’re weird questions and competitions to make adverts for them (wall posts from them often generate tens of thousands of Likes). Also name a ‘Rainbro’ of the week whose user picture they use in their brand profile image.
I talked about this approach in a presentation that I did in April. In writing the deck with a colleague I was looking for an analogy to the level of engagement that Skittles are renowned for when I remembered an amazing show that I saw last year at Bestival.
The Flaming Lips are an American psychedelic rock band who have been going since the early eighties, releasing hit albums over the decades. What separates them from other bands however, is their live shows. Random members of the audience are often invited onto the stage to join the band and dressed in animal costumes. The animal-dressed fans are free to dance around on stage for the rest of the show.
Even more brilliant is singer Wayne Coyne‘s signature man-sized plastic bubble, in which he traverses the audience, letting the fans pass him around. Suddenly the audience is in control of the show with the band, not just the band commanding the show.
The band could just go on stage like every other band on tour and play their songs in a 5 to many relationship, but what they’ve realised is that they and the audience can get so much more out of blurring the conventional boundaries. In 2002, Q magazine named The Flaming Lips one of the “50 Bands to See Before You Die”.
There’s a lot for brands to learn from bands like the Flaming Lips. This kind of interaction is just what brands need to be using social media for in order to achieve a meaningful experience with their fanbase.
Get amongst the fans. Let the fans be part of the show. Let them throw your brand around.