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7/23/2012
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Facebook Marketing: How To Keep Your Brand Liked

Promotion-filled news feeds drive Facebook users to unlike brands. Consider these ways to provide real value to your Facebook followers and keep them engaged.

How 6 Tech Execs Set Social Example
How 6 Tech Execs Set Social Example
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
In the beginning, Facebook was all about catching up and engaging with friends, family, and colleagues. It didn't take long before businesses saw the marketing potential of developing a presence on the platform. Facebook users "liked" a brand here and a personality there. And then those likes started adding up, with many users' news feeds becoming heavier on promotions than on personal connections.

To deal with the barrage, some users have hidden brands from their feeds, some have "unliked" brands, and some have started using different social networking platforms more or even altogether. Each scenario is a marketing nightmare, of course, but organizations have to ask themselves: Has Facebook become too commercialized? And, if so, how can the balance be tilted so that users and brands alike continue to gain value by spending time (and money) on the platform?

"No doubt, Facebook fatigue is occurring," said W. P. Carey School of Business associate professor Marilyn Prosch.

Liking a brand or person or organization on Facebook, by default, means seeing their updates in your news feed. In some cases, this means getting interesting or useful updates, coupons, and exclusive offers; in other cases it means getting batches of updates all at once, updates all day long, or simply generic messaging. The difference between the two can be the difference between staying liked and getting unliked.

"The general public is now aware their likes are becoming a currency, and that companies are looking for ways to profit from users' clicks," said Charles Palmer, executive director of the Center for Advanced Entertainment and Learning Technologies at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.

[ Concepts, not technologies, of social business pave the road to success. Read Choose Your Social Business Strategy Before Your Tools. ]

So, how do you prevent users from doing the equivalent of showing you the hand on Facebook?

"Businesses, in whatever form of marketing they use, should always be careful to only send out meaningful messages and advertisements. Information overload can happen rapidly, and then all messages become diluted and even ignored," said Prosch. "The key to successful social media marketing on pages that people like is to carefully vet and internally filter posts that ultimately end up in the news feeds. 'Less is more' applies, and when that nugget of a news feed is periodic and enticing, even better."

Palmer suggested that promotions and exclusive offers are another good way to maintain user affinity. "One way to keep from being a nuisance is to provide real-world value to online fans," he said. "Many companies are using discounts and coupons to keep their fans happy, which is a good model."

Some marketers blame changes in Facebook's user interface that were introduced with the Timeline format for whatever user dissatisfaction they are seeing.

"I believe that Facebook fan page changes have created the current problem of 'news feed vomit,'" said Jamie Rowe, marketing director for Visual Sound, a guitar pedal effects company.

With the Timeline Pages redesign, Pages can no longer display a custom app as a dafault landing page. There are tabs on Timeline pages, but they are not as obvious and require fans to click through them.

"Six or seven months ago, we could set our default landing tab to point to our current promotion," continued Rowe. "Now ... one of the only ways to communicate our promotions with our customers who like us is to use the news feed. When tabs and tab applications were the norm, we were assured that anyone who stopped by our page would see the latest and greatest; now they only see the latest post on the page, which also shows in the news feed. If Facebook would ... let us set our default landing page again, there would be a lot less news feed pollution and, I believe, more interesting pages for all businesses."

Palmer said there is an "ebb and flow" to Facebook usage. "Some people use it as their primary social outlet, and they will continue to do so," he said. "Others go through a cycle of usage--friending and liking for a while, then cutting back when the chatter gets to loud."

The volume of the chatter could be turned down a notch or two if Facebook's rumored Want button becomes a reality. One of the problems with the like button is that its meaning and purpose have become diluted. There would be far less interpretation needed--and far more potential for targeted ads, promotions, and so on--for a user who "wants" something.

Has your news feed become so filled with marketing that you have trouble finding your actual friends' updates? Have you stopped liking brands in order to stanch the flow? Are you hiding or unliking brands to clean house? How has your organization overcome the problem of news feed vomit? Please comment below or write me at debra.donstonmiller@gmail.com.

Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.

Every company needs a social networking policy, but don't stifle creativity and productivity with too much formality. Also in the debut, all-digital Social Media For Grownups issue of The BrainYard: The proper tools help in setting social networking policy for your company and ensure that you'll be able to follow through. (Free with registration.)

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PJS880
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PJS880,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/23/2012 | 6:14:17 PM
re: Facebook Marketing: How To Keep Your Brand Liked
I know that a big term off for liking places or a business on my Facebook page deals directly with how much spam and other junk posts will start to appear on my wall, what ridiculous updates will I like? If I was to get money saving coupons or a special access to privileged items that only the people who like are able to access, then I would be more motivate do like and stay liking your page. I find that the pages I do like tend to post on my wall but they are things that I do not mind seeing, pictures of wildlife, outdoors, and humorous pictures I tend to chuckle at. But when I start getting click here to go here and how about this great deal, it is an immediate turn off and there is nothing for me to like about that. I could also see how if a person is careless with their likes and their own wall starts to look like a billboard that could be enough to motivate someone to seek a different social media platform altogether, one that allows for ad free social networking, if thatGs is possible. In the end though if I do find a company or page has become annoying I just unlike them, and I can tell you I most likely will not be liking them once I unlike them once.

Paul Sprague
InformationWeek Contributor
Equipment Leasing
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Equipment Leasing,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/24/2012 | 6:50:41 PM
re: Facebook Marketing: How To Keep Your Brand Liked
Social media has become a powerful outlet for businesses to market themselves. Websites like Facebook and Twitter allow businesses to connect to thousands of people and instantly send out relevant information. The equipment leasing company I work for has done this very well; we engage readers via social media and have a blog keeping people informed about the industry with financing tips. Businesses should be cautious about how frequent information is shared as well. The article makes a strong point about how businesses can be posting too much, resulting in getting less "likes." I believe the key to attracting a strong audience is knowing what to post, and when to do so.
Deb Donston-Miller
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Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/25/2012 | 10:02:06 PM
re: Facebook Marketing: How To Keep Your Brand Liked
Thank you for your comment. It sounds like your company has embraced a winning formula: Post information that your audience wants and needs, and don't inundate them with information. I'm curious about whether the content you publish results in two-way dialog and how you handle that type of engagement (resources, policy, etc.)

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
Server Market Splitsville
Server Market Splitsville
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