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20 Sep 2010

Is Marketing Your Business on Facebook Effective?

September 20, 2010Social Media

facebook marketingIf you follow my monthly posts on Search Engine Watch you’ll see a trend in the topics I choose to write about: Facebook. The social media giant that boasts an active user base of 500 million is constantly on my mind. Why? Because, as an Internet Marketer, I’m extremely interested in how and where users spend their time online. I’m also interested in seeing how others utilize the social networking portal to market their own businesses, and what I can learn from their successes (or failures). Let’s examine a few Facebook marketing campaigns, and what we can learn from them.

einsteinbrosEinstein Bros
The popular chain, Einstein Bros, went seemingly unnoticed on Facebook for quite some time. Organically drawing almost 5,000 fans, some would see this as a success. But unlike other brands on Facebook, the team behind Einstein’s was not satisfied at this dismal fan turnout. Earlier this year, a full-fledged campaign was launched to increase their Facebook fan base: a free bagel giveaway.

Gini Dietrich interviewed James O’Reilly, the chief concept officer at Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, last month and sheds some light on how they developed, implemented, and dealt with hiccups along the way to increasing their fans by over 600,000. Technical difficulties could have stood in the way of their success, when their online coupon was malfunctioning. But with communication channels open, and brand transparency, they were able to make it through the bagel giveaway unscathed. While true ROI is unknown for this campaign, O’Reilly did express his pleasure in the final outcome.

What can we learn? Be transparent, even in times of crisis. Communicate with your fans, and don’t be afraid to own up to mistakes. Also: a well run giveaway CAN be successful. If you know your products speak for themselves, get people in the door.

digiCox Communications (Arizona)
Cox Cable boasts that it is more than just a cable company, and I tend to agree. I’ve been a fan on Facebook for a while now, and wasn’t surprised to see an awesome contest featuring their ‘mascot’ Digi. Fans can enter to win one of many prizes in their Digi’s Vacation Giveaway, including a year of free cable, internet and phone services. Fans select a vacation in the customized application on the brands page, upload their own photos to personalize the vacation, share with friends, print, and take their vacation photo to any local Cox location (in Phoenix and Tucson metro areas) to enter the contest.

The campaign has already increased their fan count by a few thousand, and fans seem receptive to the giveaway. Without knowing their overall goals for this campaign, one can assume that one goal was to increase the number of users coming into their geo-specific locations, and to place a greater emphasis on personalizing the brand.

What can we learn? Contests on Facebook can be successful, and aren’t just limited to nationwide brands. Companies that are tied to one specific geo-location can utilize contests just as big brands can, and still gain fans or notoriety.

pizza hutPizza Hut
You’ve likely heard about this pizza chain, and their social activities on Facebook: for good reason. They were one of the first brands to really utilize the social networking portal, and not try to take users off the site. By developing their ordering application, fans can order a pizza right from Facebook.

The masterminds behind their messaging are creative and inventive, personalizing each message and connecting with fans in an engaging way. Constantly giving away pizzas, developing new contests, putting a face to their brand, and allowing fans to share pictures of their pizzas are just a few ways Pizza Hut has found success on Facebook.

What can we learn? Finding a way to engage with fans, and allowing them to purchase your product without leaving the site are just a few ways to utilize Facebook to your brands advantage.

dolceDolce Salon & Spa
A local spa in the Phoenix area has found great success on Facebook. If you still aren’t convinced that a local business can find success with Facebook marketing, just take a look at Dolce. They’ve been able to grow their Facebook fan base to over 24,000 fans in a very short time. With hookups, such as 50% off services, for hitting milestones or giveaways for guessing how many users will purchase their Groupon coupon (total number sold: almost 10,000!), fans have been extremely receptive.

The admin(s) of the branded page respond to almost every comment or post. I’ve seen a customer have an issue resolved in as little as three minutes just by posting on the page. I’m extremely impressed at the dedication this brand has for their Facebook marketing, and how they have effectively turned their page into a customer communication channel.

What can we learn? Turning your Facebook page into a communication channel for customers can help both large brands and small localized brands as well. Also, giving your fans incentive to become brand advocates (with hookups for increasing fan count) work to promote your brand and expand your fan base.

I’ve highlighted a few businesses that have been effective in their Facebook marketing. Not all businesses are alike, and your needs may differ from those brands that we examined. It’s important to take into consideration who your audience is, and how best to utilize a social networking portal for your needs. Facebook marketing can indeed be effective.

Have you been impressed with a brands marketing strategy on Facebook? Share with us, in the comments below.