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Facebook and Beyond - Lessons for Brand Engagement With Social Customers

Facebook and Beyond - Lessons for Brand Engagement With Social Customers

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Published by Lithium

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Published by: Lithium on Jul 29, 2011
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07/29/2011

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Facebook and Beyond:Lessons for Brand Engagement withSocial Customers
 
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Facebook and Beyond:Lessons for Brand Engagement withSocial Customers
Executive Summary
As recently as two or three years ago, the idea that brands would provide a socialchannel for their customers to engage with them was controversial, even radical. Nowit’s convention. Facebook is a big reason for this change. As of this writing, 56 percent ofFortune 500 companies host Facebook pages, and that number is growing daily.Since social customer programs were controversial just two years ago, many of thosecompanies are new to the experience of engaging with social customers and are lookingto answer the question, “What do we do next?”Brands that have engaged with social customers in other channels can help us answerthis question. Lithium’s clients have considerable experience with social customerengagement through brand communities and Facebook pages. Lithium conducted asurvey of its clients to better understand how they see the role of Facebook (and othersocial media outlets) in their overall engagement strategy. The results provide aninteresting glimpse into the different roles played by different social media channels,and potentially into how they will converge in the future. Some highlights include: 
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On the whole, respondents rated their communities as more successful thanFacebook at activities that require trust: peer-to-peer engagement and providingpre-and-post sales purchase support; Facebook was seen as more successful indisseminating marketing messages. 
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The two channels were seen as roughly equal in their ability to create brandawareness. Clients who have initiated brand communities see awareness benefitsas particularly salient in the first year, suggesting that “newness” of an engagementchannel is in itself a big driver of awareness. 
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The ability for customers to submit and discuss ideas for product or serviceimprovement is the biggest downstream benefit of social customer engagementfor clients who have developed brand communities. Clients who consider theirFacebook efforts less successful are particularly interested in bringing thiscapability to Facebook in a more structured fashion.
After Peak Facebook
As Facebook itself approaches full penetration of its core markets and its membersstart to regularize their behavior, historic growth rates for participation in corporateFacebook pages will slow. Call it “peak Facebook.” Recent surveys have also shown thatexisting consumers’ engagement with corporate Facebook pages may be tenuous andfading. For example, 81% of those who have become fans of a brand have abandoned atleast one such relationship because of “irrelevant, voluminous, or boring” marketingmessages.
 
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Facebook and Beyond:Lessons for Brand Engagement withSocial Customers
This suggests that marketers who are committed to using Facebook to fosterrelationships with social customers will need to invent or adopt sophisticated long-termstrategies for customer engagement. Fortunately, many of the techniques learned inbrand communities can carry over into Facebook.
What Is an Online Community?
One of the first questions we see from brands developing a social customer strategy is,“Do I need both a brand community and Facebook, and if so, what role does eachone play?”The answer to this question always depends on circumstances and businessrequirements, but given that our audience has experience with both venues, we have avery good sense of the role that each one plays.
Figure 1: Overall effectiveness of Facebook and brand community.
Figure 1 compares the brand community’s perceived effectiveness with the Facebookpage’s perceived effectiveness in 10 different areas.
community effectivenessfacebook effectivenessimproves our search resultscreates awareness of ourbrand, products, or servicescreates beneficialcustomer-to-customer engagementallows us to communicate our marketingmessage effectively to customersempowers customers to help oneanother with pre-sales purchase questionsempowers customers to help oneanother with post-sales support questionsGives us metrics we needto assess program goalsGives us a good sense ofhow our customers are feelingHelps us identifyparticularly valuable customersCreates goodwill forour brand in social channels

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