Facebook has one billion active monthly users and over 750 million active monthly mobile users. With statistics like that, there can be no more denying it: serious businesses, even small ones, need to develop a strong Facebook presence.
The question, of course (especially for small business owners), is how to effectively tap into—and engage—this audience goldmine. The answer isn’t as elusive as you might think, even though you might feel the rules are constantly changing (that is, if you even believe there are any “rules” to begin with). One of the best ways to figure out how to leverage your own company’s Facebook presence is by following brands that do it well and borrowing a page from their playbooks.
In this post, we’re going to highlight six extremely different brands that are rocking their Facebook pages…and what you can learn (and borrow!) from them.
1. Oreo. Many of us have fond memories of dunking Oreos in milk until they were a mish-mash of chocolate-creamy goodness. Oreo, however, wants to remind us that these cookies are not simply a kid’s treat relegated to lunch bags and after-school snacks. But can Oreo transcend a mere cookie into something more? Answer: by regularly and creatively inserting itself into current events and topics.
For example, Oreo famously took advantage of the power outage during the Super Bowl by posting the graphic below on its main social media accounts, including Facebook.
For Oreo, this wasn’t a one-hit wonder. Whatever its audience is tuned into (and it’s fair to say that all national holidays and major cultural events, like the Super Bowl, qualify), it positions itself alongside the event in a visual way. Oreo is smart: images play well on Facebook, since they’re easy for fans to like, share, and comment on.
Takeaway for small businesses: Think graphics and short, digestible messages. Think about graphics you could create (or have created) that can promote your brand’s message, but in a way that relates to something current for your audience. For example, map out all the national holidays and think of graphics and messages that could play well. For example, if you own a landscaping company, you could create a graphic to run Labor Day weekend that says, “Good-bye, summer. Hello, it’s-almost-time-to-rake season.” It’s cute, short, relevant, and gets your message across: that your company handles landscaping throughout the fall.
In terms of creating the graphics, there are a few options. If you have any design sensibilities and like using programs like Photoshop, you could certainly do it on your own. Or you could outsource to a local graphic designer to create a bunch of graphics for you at once. This also makes for a great intern project for a local high school or college student.
Note: It’s not just Oreo that does this well. Many food brands, from Nutella to Doritos, engage their audiences by talking about things that they know matter to their fans.
2. The Following. We’re focusing on one TV show here, but the truth is that so many have great Facebook presences. The reason we selected The Following is because the show’s marketing team did a brilliant job with social media in general, but especially Facebook, in creating awareness for this new show, which launched in January and had huge ratings. In general, TV shows’ Facebook pages make great use of…
- Video clips (something, of course, that they have easy access to) – they tease upcoming episodes, provide recaps, and often link to full episodes online
- Behind-the-scenes interviews and images from the sets
- Outside sources/press on the show and its actors
- Relevancy – they continue marketing and promoting the show even after the show goes on hiatus until the next season
Takeaway for small businesses: Use a variety of methods and never stop “talking” to fans. Video is another item that works well with Facebook audiences, since the videos can play right in the newsfeed and they are easy to like, comment on, and share. Need ideas? Check out this post we did on boosting customer engagement using video.
As for behind-the-scenes, you can do the same with your organization: do a Q&A series with some of the folks in your company and post the Q&A to your blog. Include “on-topic” questions that relate to your brand and what the employee does, but also include some fun questions (e.g. favorite food or favorite actor). You could even conduct an interview with the company mascot, like the dog or cat, for something fun and different. People like a good behind-the-scenes segment because it allows them to see what’s behind the curtain. Remember, you’re delivering this stuff up to people who are already a fan of your page: they like your business and will likely welcome learning more about it.
Linking to outside press is always smart to share on social media, but what if you don’t have any feature articles coming out? Not to worry. Share a line that you heard from a client or customer. Do a “re-wind” feature and share an older press clipping from the archives. Remember, you’ll be gaining new fans over time, so some of these folks will have missed some of your news. It’s OK to re-run things.
The most important strategy you can learn from TV shows on Facebook is how they use their page when their show is off the air. Do they stop their posts and updates? Nope, not at all. They continue marketing and promoting their show in order to maintain interest and momentum. This is key: don’t stop your engaging with your Facebook fans, even when you’re busy, on vacation, or you just don’t feel like it. The good news? Facebook has an easy-to-use schedule feature baked right into the status update box, so you can schedule your updates far out, ensuring that it’s working for you, even if you’ve taken a day (or two) off to play hooky.
3. Moosejaw. We’ve talked about Moosejaw before when we highlighted examples of great copywriting and messaging. Mooejaw is an online retailer specializing in outdoor gear. The brand is known for its seriousness when it comes to delivering quality product. But it’s also known for its irreverent tone everywhere else, and this extends to its cheeky status updates. Check out the screen shot below:
Takeaway for small businesses: Make sure your updates sound like they were written by real people. No, we’re not suggesting you necessarily adopt an irreverent and cheeky tone, but what we are suggesting is that you sound real and approachable whenever you communicate on social media. Even if your small business is more “serious” on the surface (e.g. perhaps you own an accounting firm or you’re a financial planner), you can take it down a notch on social media and talk more informally while still sounding professional. Fans want to know they’re engaging and talking to “real” people behind the business, not some marketing robots churning out marketing speak. Moosejaw is just one example, but check out other retailers, from Target to Macy’s, and observe how approachable their status updates sound.
4. George Takei. Yes, people are brands, and George Takei, a fan favorite from Star Trek, is a perfect example of how one person can create and cultivate a brand. The key to Takei’s success is two-fold: he’s consistent, posting multiple times a day, and he uses humor. Takei does a great job of following the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of what he posts is just fun, light stuff (e.g. cartoons). Twenty percent is self-promotional (e.g. his book, his latest play, causes that matter to him).
Takeaway for small businesses: Use the 80/20 rule and remember to give fans what they want. This is especially important if YOU are the brand (think consultants, solopreneurs, writers, photographers, and so forth). Don’t post all about you and your business. Instead, take part in conversations, discuss current topics, and share fun items that might not even have anything directly to do with your business or brand, but, rather, that shows your sense of humor or softer side.
5. The Week. News organizations are active social media users. What we like about The Week’s Facebook presence is its predictability. Yes, that might sound boring, but hear us out. Every morning, it starts the day with this Facebook update: “Good morning. Here’s what you need to know today.” And then it includes a link back to its site with the morning’s top stories, all written in bite-sized paragraphs. In a world of “anything goes” on Facebook, The Week stands out for having a regular daily feature that appears roughly the same time each morning. If I’m a fan dealing with a cluttered newsfeed and limited time one morning, I can easily head over to The Week’s Facebook page, knowing that I’ll be able to find its “Here’s what you need to know today” update, which beats combing through all the one-link stories featured on other news organizations’ Facebook pages.
Takeaway for small businesses: Create a regular Facebook feature. For example, maybe you own a design/build firm. You could create a “Fantasy Friday” feature where you ask questions every Friday like, “If money were no object, where would you build your dream home?” If you’re an acupuncturist, maybe every Wednesday, you post a “Hump Day Pressure Point,” one that relieves whatever seasonal ailments might be affecting people (allergies, colds, holiday stress). You get the idea. Fans will come to anticipate and look forward to the feature.
6. Red Cross. Social media has served non-profit organizations well, because it provides an easy way to stay in front of fans and to muster immediate support when disasters strike. Still, just as we pointed out with the TV shows discussed above, it’s critical for non-profit groups to continue talking to its fans, even during relatively “quieter” times. In fact, it might even be more critical then because it might mean things are typically less stressful for fans as well, giving them the opportunity to absorb other messages about your brand. For example, the Red Cross isn’t just about raising money; it offers things like CPR training as well. Hearing about a CPR training course during times of national disasters like hurricanes and tornados might not be effective. But during quiet times, this is exactly the type of content that the Red Cross does a good job of sharing.
Takeaway for small businesses: Use slower times to remind people about ALL of your products and services, especially some of the less popular or slower sellers. The reason these products and services might not be selling is because people, even your best fans, might not be aware that they exist.
What are some of your favorite brands on Facebook? Share in the comments.