We are seeing that the natural catalysts of ego and the relevance has launched companies worldwide into the space of social media in an unorganized fashion. What we are left with in many cases are a plethora of Facebook pages representing every facet of a company. I call this Socialrrhea, and is not limited to Facebook, but that is what we will tackle today. But before you go championing this article as a sign that the times are changing and that there is too much ‘social’ in our media, let’s dive in and understand how we can strike a better balance.
Observing the Socialrrhea
Take some time and notice that Fortune 500 brands are having issues controlling the amount of Facebook Pages that are created on their behalf. Without a fixation on the bigger picture, we find that what is created in the name of awareness and sales quickly becomes a shouting match between departments and their products—often times placing a brand at odds with itself.
Certain brands have been caught launching Facebook Pages for each specific product—yielding less than satisfactory results. [See AMD Athlon example below]
While other brands have found great success in marketing products in this fashion. [See Intel Core i7 example below]
Additionally there are a gamut of brands that choose to manage their Facebook fan pages by region, and those can prove to be successful for multi-national brands. Lastly, there are some that choose to manage based upon product groupings. [See Nike corprorate example]
The Pitfalls of Avoidance But there are brands that are shooting from the hip, and it is getting messy. If you look at the Dell screenshot below we find that Dell has mixed feelings about how to manage their Facebook fan pages—within layers of geography based pages, we have one lone-star, the Social Media for Small Business powered by Dell page that is leeching some 36,000+ members. Could this respectable number of followers be better served and better used?
The cost of not addressing misaligned Facebook Pages can go two ways. Dell is in a position where it is leeching SMB followers that could support a more directed initiative, while they are instead creating a feeding ground for vendors spamming their social media services. They now run the risk of completely losing all value towards selling computers to prospective SMB clients while falling flat on large promises used for recruitment to the page.
Likewise McDonald’s lack of action on branding tertiary pages builds a great deal of brand vulnerability through proximity—this should be a HUGE indication that funneling all branded pages into one Facebook page is a bad idea. From a simple brand messaging perspective, consolidating their presence has left room for brand dissidents. Remember, much like Google, the top 3 pages will procure the most clicks in broad based searches.
Defining your Facebook Page Strategy
We know that not building out sub branded pages can be hugely negative while building out too many pages can also dilute the message. There has never been a more important time to find a healthy balance for brands increasing their exposure on social media. Brands are in effect, subject to backlash due to poor planning, messaging, and follow-through.
So what are some things we should consider when formulating our strategy? Or if our brand is already maturing in social media, what can we do to better focus this powerful medium? Here are a few steps to get the ball rolling.
Step 1: Identify and Prioritize
The most methodical route for understanding which approach is best for your company is to understand and prioritize which business units will have a social media presence, and in which way your brand will choose to communicate. Prioritizing how your brand will communicate should fall within: Brand + Business Group driven, Product driven, or Geography driven.
Understand that this is not a decision that can be made by one person or group, it generally takes a considerable amount of orchestration. I also urge brands to reflect on how they handle microsites vs their main Web presence; this is usually a strong indicator of how you should build out your social media presence.
Still unsure which is best for your company? Ask yourself the following questions.
- How is my product displayed to my customers currently?
- What does my current Web presence look like?
- Do we launch micro-sites? What purpose do they serve and how are we messaging them?
- What does your company value most? Allegiance to the brand, high-touch relationship with a group, or a deep connection with a leading product?
- What structure do we use to support our Web sites or microsites?
Step 2: Don’t Migrate, Incentivize
Many of you are in the midst of thinking through how to restructure your social media presence all together. Maybe you are like Dell, and you need a roadmap for what to do with 36,000 people on this Social Media for SMB page. The reality is that a quick call with your Facebook account manager will probably allow you to migrate the entire lot of them over to your main Dell page on Facebook or whatever you think better aligns with your new, better strategy. However, this is not the right way to go about it—don’t put your users in a brand bait-and-switch.
Without a voluntary opt-in process you are infringing upon the fibers of which social media is built. In Dell’s case, their promise to deliver constant Social Media tips to the SMB community falls short once a) the tips stop coming b) moderation fails and spam runs rampant or c) they login one day to find out that they now see feeds on their friend wall from the greater Dell about technology feeds and speeds. Trust is something a brand rarely regains—don’t mess with it on Facebook or any volatile medium.
So what do I mean by incentivize? Well, that is mostly your job, marketeer. However I bet you could get there really quick—either shut down the group and re-incentivize a follow, or create an application that redirects them to the Facebook page that marches to your new directives.
Step 3: Manage and Facilitate
Managing and facilitating conversations is the equivalent of ‘keeping content relevant’ on Websites. It is one of those best known methods for managing SEO and repeat visitors, however it is the quickest thing to be tossed out a window once a site goes live. Likewise, on Facebook don’t launch anything you aren’t willing to put into college someday—it is a long-term commitment. It is also worth stating that the content on your Facebook pages are quickly becoming available through traditional Search mechanisms.
Consider hiring professionals to keep your presence updated with specific engaging topic calendars. Though PR might want to control this, it might not be right for them. Meter who you really want talking to your potential customers. If I were Dell, and I will just ride this horse for today, I would definitely pick some SMB savvy associates with a pedigree for numbers and quick thinking.
Last but not least, remember why you went down this long journey of thinking through the way your company organizes its Facebook pages. Create a manifesto for what will and won’t be posted. What pages do and do not follow the vision. How products are, and are not launched. Now we are getting somewhere!