Over the last few years, a lot of businesses have tried to increase their sales by using social media. Some have been successful, while some have failed to convert Facebook “likes” into sales. For example, Coca-Cola has 64,629,794 fans on Facebook at the time of writing this post, yet they complain that they saw no increase in sales for their product from this form of advertising.
Unfortunately, it seems there are a lot of otherwise successful marketers, particularly Internet marketers, who don’t understand social media and the role of Social Media Marketing. They take what works for other forms of advertising and then transplant that to social media without understanding social media and then complain that it doesn’t work. I can’t tell you how many people I have talked to about Facebook and their reply is, “Oh we tried that before and it doesn’t work.” Well it does work, you’re just doing it wrong.
In order to understand the role of social media, it is first important to understand that it is a social medium, not an advertising medium. People don’t go to Facebook to read ads or to be sold to. They go to talk to their friends, upload pictures of their cats and babies, and occasionally to learn about the brands that they love.
If you look at Coke’s page, they simply used it as an outlet to post all of their ads into Facebook. (Though they have gotten better at it recently.)
When you are working out how to get your customers or potential customers engaged on Facebook, first work out what they would be interested to hear about. I attended a social media summit in Chicago a few weeks ago where the Social Media Director of Boeing touched strongly on this topic. He spoke about how Boeing struggled to engage customers in the beginning, until they realized that people didn’t want to read about the company – they wanted to see badass pictures of planes. So Boeing started posting pictures of planes. Awesome pictures. They held contents and had a fan photo of the week of planes. All of the sudden, viewership (likes) and engagement skyrocketed. The people were getting what they want, and in return so was Boeing: top of mind (subtle) advertising and building an awesome brand.
So maybe you’re an auto mechanic. Don’t post about oil changes and carburetors. Your fan-base likes cars – so give them cars!
After you have customers engaged, then you can put tools into the page that can increase visits to your website or encourage your fans to give you their email addresses so you can send them offers via email. But it starts at engagement first. And engagement comes from building a dialogue with your fans, which is completely outside of the comfort zone for true “advertising” platforms.