Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Facing the Facts about Facebook

Last week, I burst into Mark’s office saying, “Extrovertic has to have a Facebook fan page. What a great way to show our prospective clients all the cool things we could do for them!” Sadly, the only thing my statement demonstrated was how ingrained Web 1.0 thinking is in the marketing mind.

I made the classic mistake many marketers do: I just jumped right into the latest technology without thinking through the strategy behind what I was trying to do. Who was our target audience? What did we want them to do/think/feel/talk differently as a result of coming to our page?

And more importantly in the realm of social media, I was focused on what I thought clients should know about us rather than the potential value Extrovertic could provide our visitors. How were we enabling our current and/or prospective clients to do more of what they wanted to do?

Well, it’s going to take some time to think through these important questions, but luckily there are some companies who can serve as inspiration. Great customer focused organizations keep their eye squarely on the customer even on their brand fan pages. In a recent Mashable post, Callan Green details 5 companies who do it right.

One of my favorites is the Starbucks fan page. Here, Starbucks doesn’t think like an advertiser with a message to deliver but more like a magazine editor or TV station manager, planning out over time interesting, highly varied posts that seek to engage users. There are the usual corporate announcements, but the posts are peppered with highlights of discussions with bloggers, invitations for fans to share their morning routines and opportunities to learn about coffee (something caffeine addicts like me are truly interested in).

And then there’s Red Bull. One interesting component is how Red Bull populates its page with tweets from famous athletes such as Shawn White rather than just with news from their brand. Tweets from high-energy people from their favorite energy drink.

Beyond the customer focus that this retweeting demonstrates, Red Bull also shows the importance of “curating” – leveraging great content that others have developed. One of the great things about social media is that you do not have to produce all of your own content. In fact, it’s often better if you don’t.

Finally, the Dell Facebook page is a terrific example of providing value for your customers. I read about it in a InSocialMedia whitepaper, The Coming Change in Social Media Business Applications. The Dell page is all about providing their prospective small business clients with an eight part basic primer on how to use social media. It’s not about Dell, it is about their customers (who leave the page better educated, courtesy of Dell).

These fan pages demonstrate the seismic shift in thinking that has to occur when using social media. Marketers have to move away from selling to customers to providing them with customer service.

And, as my own experience shows, the shift takes some hyper-vigilance for those of us who have been in the sales mode for most of our careers.

Any thoughts?



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