The best practices and tools on how to engage with your brand’s customers.

Facebook fans need to actually be fans! [Comic]

Running a Facebook Brand Page is like getting a good party going. If you have real friends who you invite without using gimmicks, you’ll have a better time – and so will your fans! If you’re interested in bringing your Facebook fans to life, driving sales, referrals, social shares, product reviews and more, feel free to contact us at info@sparked.com, or see ourdemo at www.sparked.com. Sparked-comic-white-text-footer-with-credit

What Do Your Facebook Brand Page Numbers REALLY Mean? [Comic]

We were interviewing candidates for a marketing position last year and showed them a Facebook post in isolation (they could see only the post, and no other part of the Facebook page). Asked whether the post received a good response, almost every candidate looked at the number of comments, likes, and shares (310 combined)  and said yes. Only a few saw the 310 responses and then asked how many fans the page actually had. Bingo. If we told you that 310 out of 315 fans responded to a post, or 310 out of 5 million fans responded to a post, you’d come to a very different conclusion about the brand’s engagement success. This comic is a reminder to be discerning when you look at engagement on Facebook brand pages. A big thanks to Dan Madia for his great illustration! Facebook Brand Page numbers meaning

7 tips for delegating your social media campaign

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Article written by: Craig Robinson works as Editor for Qwaya.

This tool helps you as a marketer with all your Facebook campaigns. Besides writing for Qwaya, Craig takes part in watching and following trends within Social Media and social context.

As a business looking to take the leap to social media, there’s a lot you have to consider before you get started. First and foremost, you have to find someone to actually handle the social media tasks for your business, or to at least help you with it. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to maintain a brand and to target a market here. It’s certainly not a one person job for the majority of businesses out there, and it’s not exactly something that can be done properly without planning.

You may need different people for many different positions; however, then again, you don’t want to have too many people adding too much diversity to a brand image that should be coherent. It’s all about a happy medium; it’s all about finding the right people to handle the social media for your company.

Different Points to Consider when Delegating Social Media

  • 1: Keep Things In-House

    Social media isn’t only about marketing in a traditional sense. It’s also about constantly working with the brand; not only when it’s tied to a specific marketing campaign. In consequence, it’s important that you delegate your social media to people intimately familiar with your company. Keeping your fan base interested while promoting your Facebook page and other social media pages is important, and only people intimately associated with your brand truly know how to deliver your message. So make sure you start and keep the search in-house.

  • 2: Look for the Aptitude

    You want people who have an aptitude for marketing, and you might find them in strange places. You never know who truly has a knack for creating entertaining posts or who has the Midas touch with disgruntled customers. It’s up to you to seek out people to fill specific roles, and you should be willing to look past things like experience. Social media is something still relatively new, so a great member of your social team doesn’t necessarily need an ivy league piece of paper.

  • 3: Find Contributing Members

    Using the above tip and finding who has the aptitude for any particular role is important, but your company may already have different departments working you can use. For instance, you can delegate social advertising to your ad people, while handing your online customer service over to your customer service department. Basically, you can just create extensions based on what people already do for your company. That being said, you still have to identify the individuals who handle social media the best.

  • 4: Discuss it as a Company

    Discussing going the social media route with your company beforehand is crucial to your success. Not only are you looking to find interested, qualified people, but this is also the start of the planning process. This is where you begin to discuss your approach and your brand image, deciding what type of company you want to be. You will find the innovative and eager people by discussing things as a whole within your company.

  • 5: Separate Your Tasks

    “Social media” isn’t just a single thing. It’s an amalgamation of different duties, such as marketing, handling customer service, running promotions, keeping up with content, watching competitors, separating base members into segments, and on and on. Remember to separate main categories instead of lumping everything in together.

  • 6: Have a Central Hub for Data

    Monitoring your different social networking sites may seem easy on its face, but you’re dealing with multiple promotions, multiple ads and campaigns, different types of markets for each product, and a never-ending stream of data. Not to even mention the separate categories and separate people you have working. You need a central hub for this variety of data. Look into a system like HootSuite or something similar to help you keep your data organized.

  • 7: Speak with the Same Voice

    Before you start figuring out how to get a Facebook fan base or how to get more people to opt-in with a promotion, you first have to figure out your brand image and the tone you’re going to take. It has to be consistent not only among your different social sites, but also among your employees and different people in charge of different aspects of your social media. A brand needs a congruent voice, so work this out before creating a social presence.

There is no right or wrong answer one could write down when it comes to whom your social media will be delegated. It’s a process you must go through; a process which will reveal those individuals who fit best in the specified spots. And it all starts with looking in-house and gauging interest.

4 rules for "thinking big" when creating a mobile experience

In the digital age, a brand’s marketing strategy cannot be separated from the tools they use to communicate with their consumers. These tools are social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, as well as their branded mobile app. When designing marketing campaigns, brands need to think about how this digital medium shapes the way they communicate. Two-way conversations between brands and consumers are becoming increasingly more important than top-down conversations from brands.

Instead, brands need to think holistically about how their app opens up new ways to communicate with their customers. Here are the top four rules when creating a mobile experience:

1. Create meaningful experiences

Have you ever used an app that has a sleek, delightful user experience? How has that experience affected how you feel about the brand that created that app? Simply making an app usable isn’t enough; it’s a basic requirement for a compelling user experience. Instead, brands need to think about the bigger picture and how this digital experience will change how their users feel about them.

2. Show the features benefits

Your users want to know whey they need to use their app, not what the brand gets out of their fans engaging with their product. What does the product enable them to do? Does your app have an interactive element that’s fun for users to engage with or interesting content that they might want to share? Understand the primary reason that your audience wants to engage with and craft experiences to maximize user engagement and interest.

3. Give them a reason to engage

As with other social media channels, brands cannot force people to use their app. In fact, even encouraging them to use to app and share content may be detrimental to engagement. The mobile experience has to be something that your users enjoy using, sharing with friends, and, most importantly, returning to.

4. Focus on goals not numbers

Before designing your digital campaign, think about what you want the end goal of the product to be. Do you want to get feedback from a core group of fans? Increase engagement through mobile by targeting a larger audience segment? Or, maybe you want to entertain your customers through interactive digital experiences that are designed to build engagement and long-term loyalty. Most brands focus on metrics before they think about qualitative measurements like customer loyalty and engagement.

Instant engagement or long-term campaign?

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Many brands use one-off Facebook campaigns to drive traffic to their site, grow the number of fans, generate new leads, or increase conversion. By offering a special promotion, they can often create a spike in sales while the campaign is running. The drawback to this approach is that while the campaign can generate a significant increase in Facebook traffic, it isn’t building overall engagement or long-term brand loyalty. While brands may be bringing fans to their page and generating sales, they are missing out on the long-term engagement possibilities that Facebook (and integration with other social media channels) can offer.

The value of instant engagement

Many brands opt for a one-off campaign because they can see instant engagement and ROI. However, these fans may only be accessing the page to get access to a special promotion, not switching their brand loyalty. In fact, a recent study by AisleBuyer found that 75% of consumers would switch to a different brand if the brand offered them a discount or special promotion.

What are some of the reasons that brands would run a one-off campaign?

  • Promotions to drive traffic to retail stores: Some brands offer special promotions to their Facebook fans to generate more foot traffic to their stores or to see an overall increase in their Facebook fan base.
  • Fan gate to increase “likes”: Some campaigns provided gated content to capture “likes” or emails to build a fanbase and generate leads.
  • Competition: Running a competition such as a photo upload or brand story can be an excellent way for brands to capture Facebook likes and receive unique content from fans.

Not all engagement is created equal

Fans will invest more of their brand passion into submitting user-generated content than liking your Facebook page. Also, by actively managing your Facebook engagement and cultivating a passionate community over a long period of time, you can build a foundation of brand ambassadors. A proactive approach that is centered on improving your fans’ experience with the brand can build a more of a buzzing community.

Here are some of the benefits of long-term engagement versus a one off campaign:

  • Authentic conversation versus pacify criticism: Do you use your Facebook page as a customer feedback platform? While this can be a great way to communicate with fans in real-time, you are reacting to the conversation instead of managing the dialogue. By building up a relationship with your fans around unique content and one-on-one communication, you can steer the conversation from complaints to more involvement with the brand.
  • Is your content starting a conversation? With more involved campaigns, you can ask feedback from your fans, run campaigns to generate their own content to share with their extended networks or get them involved in the co-creation of new products.
  • Asking questions of the community: Using your Facebook page to get feedback in real-time is an often underused benefit of this social channel. As we’ve discussed before, Facebook is an invaluable platform to co-create with fans on products. You already have a base of fans who know your product inside-out, why not use their expertise to mold the product?

Do you know of any great Facebook engagement campaigns? We would love to hear your feedback!

What can users expect from Facebook Home?

How to install Facebook Home on Android 4.0 or higher_Onsoftware_20130423-143830Facebook Home hit half a million downloads this weekend.  This is only a fraction of the more than a billion active Facebook users as well as Android’s billion active user base.  In other words, less than 0.001% of users have downloaded the platform.  The slow adoption has been attributed to the limited number of devices that Facebook supports, such as Samsung Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note II, HTC One X, and the HTC One X+, along with the HTC First.

This application is trying to position Facebook at the center of mobile users’ digital lives. This is a strategic move considering the amount of time people access their mobile devices.  According to Mark Zuckerberg, the average mobile consumer looks at their screen at least 100 times a day.

Location and content will be a new opportunity to track behavior

If users adopt this technology, advertisers will be able to interact with consumers in new ways: geotargeting will give them opportunities to reach customers through the places they frequent and access to friends’ interests will give advertisers the option to show customized recommendations.

Many users originally joined Home because of the attractive design but found that the app’s ability to tap into all aspects of their social network overwhelming. The app may be prioritizing social features over the basic user experience, such as making calls or accessing other apps.  Also, there is no ability to curate content that your friends are posting. So everyone can see your friends’ embarrassing photos on your lock screen or home screen.

Is this an app or an operating system?

What does this app mean for the consumer?  The app is off to a rocky start with mostly negative reviews and some cumbersome functionality. Also, it may be facing challenges because it fits somewhere between an operating system and an app.  Wired has given it the appropriate title as an “apperating system”; others have labeled it a “launcher.”

What can users expect from Facebook Home?

– Newsfeed ads that include page posts and sponsored stories

– Uninterruption in brands’ ability to show ads.  Consumers can access their friends’ content and be served relevant ads through the “Cover Feed” and home screen

– Cover Feed that shows your friends’ activities

– Texts and Facebook features all in one places

– Profile features let group chats seem more personalized

– For multi-taskers, you can now chat from anywhere on your device, even if you’re surfing the web or watching a video.

For advertisers, Home is an exciting opportunity to access users by providing content that taps into their personal experiences. For users, Facebook takes over their phone, which many people find cumbersome and invasive.  Are you a Facebook Home user? What do you think of the user experience?

Scarcity, loyalty and exclusivity: tips to grow superfan engagement

As we’ve discussed before, many digital strategists struggle with finding a balance between engaging a core group of superfans or focusing on lower levels of engagement with a larger pool of fans.  At Sparked, we believe in growing your superfans so that you have a bigger base of really passionate brand advocates.

Current social media technologies are limiting in the tools they provide for community management: less than 1% of fans engage with Facebook content and Twitter shows the same content for all of your Facebook fans.  With the Customer Advisory Board, brands see fan engagement of between 10% to 20%.

But how can you grow this group of superfans?  Here are some quick tips to turn your passive fans into superfans:

1.  Provide some friendly competition

Want to try out new brand messaging or product view?  Create a contest through the Customer Advisory Board and get feedback on from your social media brand ambassadors all in one place.  The reward for giving feedback to their favorite brands is enough incentive to keep coming back to participate in more activities.  A leaderboard will also drive your fans superfans to engage more with your content.

2.  Stay up-to-date

This may sound obvious, but keep track of industry news and form your activities around trending topics related to your product.  It’s likely that your fans are following the news as well, and have opinions about best practices and what’s going on in the industry.

3. Recognize engagement

Your superfans want to feel that they’re being recognized for all the work they’re doing for your brand.  When your fans reach a new level, or unlock a badge, give them a shoutout on Twitter or Facebook that they’re doing great work for your brand.  These shout outs will create awareness throughout your less active fans that there is opportunity for rewards.

4.  Game mechanics of scarcity

The concept of diminishing resources is not new.  Applying this concept to motivating your superfans will spur them to act faster to reach new levels and participate in more activities.  For example, provide a reward for the first 10 users once they reach a certain level and make sure that you notify the rest of your community that you reward participation. This is especially relevant for eCommerce companies, since scarcity and exclusivity can really drive users to interact with your content.

5.  Building a culture of innovation and creativity

Your most loyal fans want to feel like they are a part of your brand.  Asking for feedback on products or to brainstorm on campaigns is a great way to get real-time feedback and drive engagement.  Plus, your fans might come up with some great ideas that you can use in their next campaign.  Do you have trouble coming up with trending hashtags? Ask your fans what they think the next hashtag should be.

Creating authentic brand experiences on mobile

mobilePres_sideBySideMobile has become much, much more than another device to share content; it is an essential opportunity for brands to develop authentic customer experiences.   46% of users log in to social media through a mobile device and consumer engagement with mobile apps increased 85% from 2011 to 2012.  Many brands are struggling to find how they can leverage this device to create experiences that are valuable to consumer.

What does the mobile phone provide for social media?

  •  Immediacy: Users expect immediate satisfaction when they interact with a brand’s mobile app.
  •  Simplicity: mobile is ideal for creating seamless and organic brand experiences. 
  •  Context-focused: there are no other distractions that take the user away from the brand experience.  When the use clicks on an app or video, they are completely engaged with that one medium.

Too often, brands focus on how they can get the most out of their customers, not why their customers would want to use the app.  When developing a mobile brand experience, you need to consider these three questions:

  •  What does the user want?
  • What does the user need?
  • What unique experience can the brand provide to make the user continue to come back to the app?

As the future for brand interactions, the mobile environment will also lead to greater engagement and result in more conversations.  Rather than being bombarded by ads from the brand, consumers feel that they are engaging one on one.

As brand interactions shift to mobile, so does the campaign strategy.  Frequent exposure to a brand is not the same as a quality brand experience.  Instead of multiple touch points from various ad media (print, banner ads, digital campaigns or social campaigns), consumers need a platform to build a long-term relationship with the brand.

The good news is that brands already has a ready and willing influencers to spread their brand message; customers are more than willing to engage with your brand.  These fans often define who they are by the brands they love – whether it’s, “liking” a brand on Facebook, pinning their favorite designs or touting it on Tumblr.

Maybe the discussion should shift.  The question is not how consumers can engage with the brand but instead how brands can become part of their fans’ personal brand.  Brands now have the opportunity to build a more organized structure for these organic conversations with engagement platforms and services.

Five methods to cultivate your social media brand ambassadors

In an age where social media and brand image are irrevocably linked, brands and businesses need methods of managing their social media brand activists.  In social business, the most loyal fans aren’t just supporting brands, they define a brand. As a result of social technologies, fans now have a global voice – and a platform to share their interests, product ideas and feedback.  When it comes to how businesses plan their marketing spending, it makes sense to pay attention to what their customers are saying about their brand and to reward them for their loyalty. The most important customers that marketers struggle to cultivate are their social brand ambassadors.  These are fans that are highly influential on social media, and often follow the brand across several social media platforms.  There are three levels of brand ambassadors:
  • Brand browsers:  these are customers who occasionally visit their favorite brand’s Facebook page and may even like a few articles or photos.  They are at the first level of engagement and need extra encouragement to keep coming back.
  • Brand loyalists:  These social media butterflies “like” every Facebook post and even follow brands across several social media channels.  They are likely to frequently visit their favorite brands’ social networks, but don’t add their own content or share with their extended networks.
  • Brand accelerators:  These loyal customers are extremely valuable to brands because they refer products or promotions across several social channels. They are also highly influential fans and can influence their network.
How can brands and businesses move their customers up the brand ambassador value chain?  Here are some key tips to turning passive social media users into loyal brand accelerators. 1. Identify your “brand superstars”: Who are your most vocal and dedicated social brand ambassadors?  As a recent study by Forrester Research of the value of Facebook fans has shown, Facebook is a valuable channel for ambassador cultivation: Facebook fans are significantly more likely to purchase, engage with and recommend brands that they “like”. 2. Build a community: Most marketers already know that creating a Facebook page for their fans to congregate is a social media marketing must have.  However, occasionally posting updates doesn’t equal community outreach.  Facebook should be the platform to launch a brand advocacy program and engage customers one-on-one. 3.  Ideation – By providing interesting ways for customers to interact with brands through a series of ideation, trivia and customer feedback activities, businesses can learn valuable insights from their fans. 4.  Engagement: For most marketers, “engagement” is the magic word when it comes to their social media marketing campaign.  Providing relevant and interesting content for your customers to share identifies brands as thought leaders and proves that they’re not trying to hound Facebook “likes”. 5.  Encourage sharing: To build an effective social campaign, brands need to locate their brand accelerators and reward them for their loyalty.  Providing coupons or special promotions as rewards for sharing content and engagement encourages fans to continue their relationship with the brand. Each of these five aspects is extremely effective in moving fans from passive visitors to highly influential brand accelerators.