You’re Building It…But Will They Come?

Marketers are placing increasing bets on Facebook; in 2011, 70% planned to increase their social media budget by more than 10% for the year, according to a poll of top ad agencies and executives. Given 87% said social media was “important” or “very important” to achieving their biggest marketing goals, it may not be surprising that social media spend is approaching TV’s marketing share-of-wallet, comprising 11.9% of marketers’ overall budget – 1% shy of TV’s 13%.

What’s interesting (if not shocking) about this increased priority and spend for social is what these leading brands (including Bank of America, Colgate-Palmolive and Mini USA) state as their primary goal: increase Facebook Likes.

But according to CoTweet/Exact Target, “companies have a considerable challenge when it comes to maintaining relationships on Facebook.” (CoTweet/ExactTarget Report, “The Social Breakup,” February 2011). What will set apart marketers’ efforts on Facebook are the efforts that employ longer-term strategies to reward and engage their customers and fans to not only “get them there,” but that also keep these fans active and open to inviting others to participate. In short, Facebook becomes another way in which these innovative firms can both extend the reach and deepen the loyalty for their brands.

For example, we recently worked with a leading brand to grow its Facebook presence, but did so in a way that employed longer-term engagement strategies. First, we accelerated their clients predisposition to share by driving them to their Facebook page to enter a sweepstakes.  But the extended value came from two things: (1) the social nature of the reward design (in essence, if a friend’s friend entered the contest, they gained another entry themselves); and (2) the type of reward we provided: by offering a $250 shopping spree on their site, all contest participants stood the chance to engage more deeply with the core brand and have additional reasons to return in the future.

The formula worked: in the first week of the contest, they received 8,000 entries into the contest – 39% of whom shared their entry on their respective Facebook walls, exponentially extending the reach of the core brand; in under 30 days they extended reach of Facebook page by 20% and snagged over 12,000 sweepstakes entries.

Significantly, this “I win, you win” virality - combined with meaningful rewards that drew its fans back to the brand – extended the breadth and depth of a like far beyond the initial click.

The marketers who attain longer-term gains from social are the ones who employ these types of tools and strategies to effectively engage their fans. They will build wisely.

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