Facebook Fan Pages need to be conversation spaces not destinations.
There are a lot of posts flying around the blogs on Facebook‘s new Fan Page system, covering privacy, just outright outrage, and even a couple kudos on tapping into the influencer hierarchy.
However, very few are addressing the core issue: How to implement a successful execution and how it fits into the mix.
First of all, DON’T create a destination, no one needs another “branded space”.
People don’t need another location where they can download Mountain Dew wallpapers. The approach that is being pitched is basically just an extension of the groups feature with some extra bells and whistles attached, wrapped up in the ‘products’ category. Now let’s be honest, groups are just badges to show off to other people, in essence, cool by association. There is very little running interaction on most groups and most of the content is lackluster. Some of you may disagree, but you probably run in new media circles and thus are more inclined to interact. You’re not the status quo.
This is a group roll ripped off an average female college student’s profile and it is more kosher than most:
She is trying to express that she is liberal and somewhat politically inclined by being in the Stephen Colbert group, environmentally motivated with the Climate Change group, of course she wants us all to know that people think she is good looking by being a part of 5 or so groups themed around “Smoking Hot Beautiful Stunning Girls”. Think she ever interacts with any of these groups?
Empower your core base and win over your enemies.
The first couple product pages will most likely operate like every other branded group. Attract people with some discounts or “hot news”, a couple thousand sign up, spam them, spam them, spam them some more, people start to leave, and finally the marketer gets bored. The end.
Sounds bleak; however, there is a huge amount of potential in amplifying the voice of your advocates. If done right.
So here’s what I propose: Build the fan pages into conversation hubs.
Online influencer outreach programs typically are comprised of identifying various online communities and influencers – usually in the form of bloggers -, and trying to chat with them without pissing them off. These types of programs take time, can be expensive, and are difficult to manage and track. So instead of scouring the net, piecing together a patch work of comments and posts, why not have them come to you.
Build areas that become conduits between your evangelists, your nay sayers, and your company. Build a space where people can voice their opinions, good or bad (I know this can be scary for some), and be heard. Having a corporate blog is nice, but let’s face it blogs are still 90% one-way. With Fan Pages you are built into a social ecosystem where people want to connect and express themselves, take advantage. What you get in return is an IV thrust deep into the pulse of sentiments surrounding your product. What people love, where you got it right. What people hate, things you need to work on. What people just don’t get, areas you need to clarify. This information is invaluable, and just by listening you can convert your loudest nay sayers into friends. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen countless times.
That’s my 2 cents. I’m gonna wrap up this post with a challenge to marketing and companies:
Be the first company to use Fan Pages to collaboratively build or improve a product with your consumers.
Want people to use the network to amplify and pitch your product? Give them a stake in it, and allow them to spread a personal message.
Turn, “Hey, a bought cool pair of Nike high-tops”, into “Hey man, check out my new shoes that I helped design, I know you’ll dig ‘em”
Now the shoes have transcended mere mortal shoes, and have become conversation pieces, perhaps even mythical. You bet that everyone of your ‘designers’ will be telling everyone they know, and the Facebook platform will make that voice infinitely louder through the ‘products’ feed.
Check out this article on Marketing Vox discussing the rising trend in people wanting to work with companies to build better products.
Video post on AdAge of a presentation given by Facebook COO, Owen Van Natta. He says, “Our users love the [SocialAds] system”. Since when do people like being accosted by brands in their private communities. Wake up.