It’s simple to conceive of a host of clever social media campaigns for brands that sell popular products like packaged goods, food, travel gear, and other “sexy” items. But what if your brand sells a product or provides a service that inspires less consumer enthusiasm?
If your brand sells children’s clothing, or pet supplies, or organic groceries, a wide array of effective Facebook marketing strategies are available. Here are just a few:
- Create constantly rotating photo albums of your merchandise.
- Run contests encouraging fans to share their personal style and preferences.
- Encourage messaging interactions around topics related to children, pets, or food.
What do you do if your brand sells insurance, is a mortgage brokerage, or develops security software? How can you build an engaged rapport with your fans?
We’re Going To Show You How!
By examining real-life examples of companies that range from housing development builders, to banks, to security software, and gardening suppliers, this post will show you how to engage your Facebook audience, regardless of what your brand does.
It is important to always keep in mind that fans are people, no matter what brand they declare affinity for. People generally have interests that, when catered to, influence action and engagement. Let’s take a look at four strategies that any brand can implement to encourage engagement and interaction:
- Create a one stop information shop
- Relate to a common experience
- Offer an enticing prize
- Tie activity to a cause or initiative
1. Create A One-Stop-Information Shop
When brainstorming how to entice users to join and interact with your brand, the challenge is to come up with ways to encourage them to interact with the page continuously over time and prevent disengagement. If you’re managing a brand that is perceived as “unsexy,” creating a fan page containing valuable resources and information to benefit the user is essential. The goal is to capture users with an initial promotion, and to keep them returning to your page for information even after the promotion is over.
An example of a brand who achieved this goal is Webroot, a software company that distributes security applications and programs. Webroot partnered with Wildfire to develop a campaign promoting its security software. Users visited Webroot’s Facebook page for a chance to win high-value prizes such as airline tickets, electronics, and kitchen appliances. Recognizing that its promotion would drive considerable traffic to its page, Webroot created a powerful, resource-rich page about its products and services. As a result, users who visited Webroot’s page to participate in the promotion were also exposed to the page’s valuable content (such as a virtual help agent, a collection of informational videos, customer testimonials, and registration for a free trial), which gave them a reason to return. In turn, Webroot created a full service, user-friendly community through its Facebook page, and a place where fans go to access information about the company.
The strategy worked well for the company, as monitor charts showing the timeline of the pages growth indicate a high correlation between the promotional marketing efforts and the growth of the page:
2. Relate To A Common Experience
Depending on your brand’s targeted demographic, Facebook user groups generally have things in common that tie them together. Teenagers are all in school, college-aged users typically appreciate putting money towards books or college, and adults all pay bills. While it may be difficult to think up a creative promotion for a company like Meritage Homes, which designs and builds eco-friendly homes and other community properties (a task such as “sketch your dream house” is difficult for a user, even though it’s a creative idea), it’s not impossible. Meritage Homes created a theme all users can relate to and engage in:
The company’s fan page revolves around a contest it launched called “Show us your Bad Bill Face,” which asked users to submit photos of the facial expressions they make when paying bills. The fan page customized its profile picture to reflect this theme, and includes a leaderboard that changes daily to reflect vote counts and motivates entrants and voters. With its contest, Meritage Homes focused on an idea that relates to every adult’s common experience: we all pay bills, and none of us like it. By making an amusing request that all adult users could connect with, awarding a $25 gift card to a daily winner, and promoting the contest with a strong messaging strategy throughout its month-long duration, Meritage Homes placed itself in a great position to grow a larger fan base that remains engaged even after the promotion.
3. Offer An Enticing Prize
It used to be that a bank would sweeten the idea of opening up a checking account by giving you a free prize for doing so. Flashlights, lava lamps, tickets to a sporting event; none of these items were directly related to banking, but each offered an incentive for the user to engage with the brand.
The same concept is true on Facebook today, as brands that otherwise might not seem highly differentiable among users still attract fans. In fact, many banking brands on Facebook are using this age-old incentive in a social-media-friendly way.
For instance, Bethpage Federal Credit Union hosted a promotion and offered a $1,000 grand prize to users who submitted photos incorporating paper print-outs of the bank’s two mascots, Beth and Paige. By doing so, Bethpage put a fun and creative twist on encouraging users to become fans: it required users to “Like” its Facebook page in order to enter the contest and vote on photo submissions.
4. Tie Activity To A Relevant Cause Or An Initiative
Companies regularly engage in corporate social responsibility programs to give back to the communities they are a part of, and signal to the public world of their dedication and commitment to certain values. If your brand does this, your Facebook page is the perfect place to showcase your brand’s causes and initiatives. In fact, fans are rallied to action by being tied to specific causes.
Consider the example of Safer Brand, a leading manufacturer of organic gardening and pest control products. Safer Brand ran a promotion on its Facebook fan page through which it donated money for each user who “Liked” the page, to a good cause: the Katie’s Krops initiative to fight hunger. For Safer Brand, this was a powerful way to rally users around a common cause, raise money for a charitable initiative, and convert users into fans to grow its fan community.
When your brand provides a service that doesn’t lend itself to typical promotion opportunities such as giveaways and exclusive discounts, you can get creative with the kinds of promotional activities you create for fans.
The insurance industry is an example of a brand that can be hard to promote, since it’s difficult to give fans a discount on services, and you can’t give away free coverage in a sweepstakes. You can and should, however, add personality to your brand by aligning it with a cause that users can relate to. For example, Independence Blue Cross hosted a fitness-oriented contest to promote its “Healthy Steps” initiative. Fans submitted pictures of themselves exercising for a chance to win a gift card to a sporting goods store. With its promotion, Independence Blue Cross conveyed to users that its Facebook fan page is a forum to engage in fun, healthy activities, discuss common interests like fitness, and be rewarded for taking part in an initiative. For its efforts, Blue Cross saw a healthy progress in growth over the campaign period:
Do you have examples you’d like to share of other brands shaking up their Facebook fan pages with interesting campaigns that engage fans and spur conversation? Share your thoughts in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!
About the Author: Maya Grinberg is the Social Media Manager at Wildfire Interactive. She specializes in corporate social media strategies and teaching businesses how to optimize them. Follow her on Twitter as @papayamaya or @wildfireapp.