Retail TouchPoints: Facebook Best Practices Improve Customer Interactions and Brand Reputations

Discussion
Aug 11, 2011

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Retail TouchPoints website.

Although many retailers are utilizing Facebook with hopes of spiking customer loyalty and increasing purchase activity, others remain skeptical of social media’s current and future effect on consumer behavior.

In the webinar titled ‘Facebook Marketing: Strategies for Turning ‘Likes’ Into Loyalty,’ Debra Aho Williamson, principal analyst for eMarketer, and site writer/analyst Kimberly Maul, provided tips for retailers hoping to make the most out of their commitment to Facebook.

Many social channel users become fans of a brand in order to receive exclusive deals and offers. However, Ms. Aho Williamson explained that deals and promotional offers do not necessarily serve to improve consumer loyalty. "Offers are a double-edged sword," Ms. Aho Williamson said. "They get people in the door, but according to ExactTarget, they’re the fourth-most cited reason why people unlike a brand. They got what they needed, and then they’re gone."

Indeed, while Merkle’s View from the Digital Inbox 2011 found that 57 percent of Facebook users became a brand fan to receive exclusive deals and offers, 62 percent of Facebook users say a top benefit of becoming a fan is to receive brand news, and 61 percent find gaining information on products to be the main perk.

To that end, many retailers are struggling to determine when and what to post on their Facebook pages.

To address this, Ms. Aho Williamson suggested that retailers should strive to ask questions, develop different discounts for different campaign goals, respond to questions/concerns quickly and reward fans via Facebook to increase page activity.

Backing up her point, Ms. Aho Williamson pointed to Buddy Media’s Strategies for Effective Facebook Wall Posts: A Statistical Review, which revealed that brands experienced a 27 percent spike in engagement for posts containing no more than 80 characters, and increased interaction by 18 percent for items posted on a Thursday or Friday versus other days of the week. Furthermore, the ExactTarget study titled Subscribers, Fans and Followers: The Social Break-Up showed that 44 percent of Facebook users "Unliked" a brand because they posted updates too frequently, while 38 percent said content became too repetitive.

Using Facebook strategies and campaign examples from Adobe, Chef Boyardee, Discovery Communications and Carlisonic, the two compiled four best practices for companies eager to optimize their Facebook page:

  1. Let fans create the community: Retailers should allow Facebook fans to interact freely, rather than trying to force interactions with an abundance of questions and status updates.
  2. Know what topics and issues are important to your customers: Companies should take the time to observe how fans interact with each other and react to the brand, and develop online promotions around their behaviors.
  3. Short-term promos need long-range planning: Although special deals and coupons can increase the number of company "Likes," retailers must continue to nurture relationships with customers and develop status updates that contain valuable and relevant information.
  4. Link and integrate Facebook pages to maximize interactions: A company with multiple brand pages should create unique ways to synchronize them and drive fan conversions across the entire company site.

Discussion Questions: Which of the four best practices laid out in the article do you think is most important? What recommendations would you give retailers looking to get the most from Facebook?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

11 Comments on "Retail TouchPoints: Facebook Best Practices Improve Customer Interactions and Brand Reputations"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Ryan Mathews
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

Clearly Number One.

What marketers don’t seem to get about social networks is that they are…well…”social”…and involve “networks.”

Most social network marketers (even the term makes my flesh crawl) are really just old school marketers trying to impose order on a media/channel whose very nature is antithetical to the idea of control.

So…get over the whole “control” thing and the idea that this is a space where “best practices” have become immediately obvious, lay back, hang on and enjoy the evolution.

There’s an old Irish folk tale that ends, “The sweetest sound in all the world is the music of what will happen.”

Amen.

Dan Frechtling
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

Are you on Facebook to maximize Facebook activity or in-store activity?

Practices 1, 2, and 4 improve your presence on Facebook. Good work–if you sell through Facebook or need to hit Fan and Engagement metrics (and if you can invest FTEs to do things like research fan interactions on your profile).

Practice 3 drives Likes AND Sales in-store. After all, 57% become fans to get offers–by far the #1 reason–so why fight it? Don’t worry about Unlikes, only a quarter of fans say they dropped out because they redeemed their offer. Just as many say they’d stay if there were more offers, reports eMarketer.

Kroger promoted its Cart-buster in-store event to Facebook fans. It gave them what they care about: storewide savings on favorite brands. Further, it offered an insiders-only overlay on Facebook: Deal of the Day, which were special coupons to the first 1000 respondents. Some deals sold out in under a minute, and visitor traffic and awareness of the in-store event spiked.

Liz Crawford
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

Real shopper engagement is rooted in brand, not short-term gains. Unless you have a strategy for relationship building, don’t bother getting them in the door.

Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D.
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

Of course, number 1. A significant difference about social media is that social does not mean that consumers move around and access information from different places on different vehicles. Social media means interaction; dialogue. Social media is not just advertising — pushing out a message. Loyalty will not result from just sending out a message. Involvement is also required.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

I could not have said it better than Ryan Mathews (above), so I will quote him exactly because it is worth saying twice.

“Clearly Number One.

What marketers don’t seem to get about social networks is that they are…well…”social”…and involve “networks.”

Most social network marketers (even the term makes my flesh crawl) are really just old school marketers trying to impose order on a media/channel whose very nature is antithetical to the idea of control.

So…get over the whole “control” thing and the idea that this is a space where “best practices” have become immediately obvious, lay back, hang on and enjoy the evolution.”

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

I agree with allowing the fans to drive the community conversation, however, more often than not the fans are not typically starting “conversations.” They may post relatively random, one-time comments. The retailer needs to have almost real-time visibility into these comments and find ones that can become a longer-term discussion that builds awareness of one or more aspects of the retailer brand. Those “longer-term” discussions may only be a day or two in duration, however the more responses that get posted, the more hits that will come up in shopper searches.

Bottom line, the retailer must “get uncomfortable” and allow free-form conversation, while responding quickly to negative posts with a positive tone and refraining from seeming “defensive.”

This whole social media/social business process will develop over time because I believe this is no passing fad. Social media is the “Next Internet.” We should not expect short-term “monetization” from social media activity. It is simple one more vehicle to build the brand.

James Tenser
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

Tough to expand much on the wisdom of the first few comments here today, but I’ll try to amplify a bit.

Of course the focus must be meeting and learning about community (i.e. customer) interests. The other poll choices do not even come close. Oh and use the word “fans” sparingly. It implies both hyperbole and a kind of shallowness to the brand relationship that really isn’t all that desirable unless your brand is Charlie Sheen.

Winning the “likes” derby is indeed a pointless distraction unless it demonstrates a direct effect on purchase behavior. One-time coupon redemptions are OK but just because they were distributed on your page doesn’t make them any better than an FSI. Show me some enduring relationship impact. Show me the ROI.

Broadcast media control freaks should high-tail it away anything related to the social networks and consider retiring from the marketing profession entirely.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

Exactly what purpose does FB serve for a company–or anyone for that matter–who already has a web site? (Isn’t its real purpose to allow every John and Jane who doesn’t have the creativity, time or money to create a “real” site to have a surrogate?) Oh I know, it allows all kinds of interactions, and mystical metrics are somehow emerging…balderdash: if someone has nothing better to do than “friend” a tube of toothpaste, I somehow doubt they have much long-term value as a customer; here’s to that point a few years from now when the hysteria over Mr. Zuckerberg’s spawn is but a quaint memory on RW.

Matthew Keylock
Guest
Matthew Keylock
9 years 9 months ago

Agree with “number 1″…with a slight caveat that having fragmented brand sites could erode this i.e. “number 4.”

For retailers, they should think of their customers first and then the channels or tools to continue to retain and grow their best customers (in line with their strategy). A channel or mechanic first approach is unlikely to be successful.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

I agree with Ryan’s comments. It is a social network. So let it work as designed. Retailers can’t make it something it is not intended to be without creating some animosity. That is never good for the cash register is it? Marketers can’t interfere with the process without damaging the planned-for results.

David Potts
Guest
David Potts
9 years 9 months ago

With Facebook’s open APIs, retailers can treat Facebook almost like a website storefront with a multi-strategy marketing approach. Retailers need to be able to continually offer up new product and industry information in addition to information that followers are talking about. This keeps the social engagement from followers high and constant, and begins to create peer to peer communities within your page.

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

Which of the four best practices mentioned in the article do you think is most critical to success?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...