Like CRM (customer relations management), creating a brand presence on Facebook is a long-term commitment. Once the Wall is open updates must be made regularly and someone must answer fan comments, queries and complaints. Brands can’t afford to ignore social, but when—and how—does this investment pay off?
In our experience handling over twenty of the Philippines’ most successful Facebook pages, we’ve learned that it takes consistency and persistence to acquire FANS and generate PARTICIPATION. But done right, this turns an active fanbase into AMBASSADORS who can influence BUSINESS.
Level 1: Fans
Anyone who has been here will tell you that Filipinos are the friendliest people in the world. Our large families and extensive relationship networks have made us natural socializers. It is no wonder then that social networks became an immediate hit as early as a decade ago with the launch of Friendster then Multiply.
Today, Facebook is king, not only among social networks but in the Philippine digital landscape. Of the 10 most visited websites in the country in Q4 2011, Facebook received 75 percent of PH traffic.
Our social nature has organically extended to brands, whom Filipinos are happy to connect with on Facebook. According to Universal McCann’s Wave 5 (Social Media Tracker) 66 percent have joined a brand community online (vs. 47 percent globally).
Many fanpages have ballooned over the last 24 months that Facebook has been on the rise. The biggest brand fanpage in the Philippines belongs to Nescafé and is handled by MRM. Already at 400,000 fans when we started managing the page in March last year, the community quickly grew to 500,000 in three months. Our fans gave us a fabulous holiday present, hitting one million on Christmas Day 2011. We are just about to round out 1.75 million, a milestone we expect to hit before the end of the year.
Level 2: Participation
Building a strong foundation is just the first step in building a relationship with consumers and maximizing a Facebook presence. Too many marketers are fixated only on getting this metric up to a number worthy of an internal press release. But getting fans to participate is the bigger—and most essential—challenge.
In our experience this has come down to creating content that will keep fans interested in the brand message, delivered in three key properties:
FEED. Daily engagement through status updates to keep the brand present on fans’ Facebook feeds.
Brands need to keep people talking by developing content and status messages that encourage Likes, Comments and Shares. Content topics must serve a dual function of being interesting enough to elicit participation while deepening fans’ understanding of the brand’s equity or products. The primary consideration is maintaining engagement or “PTAT” so this type of content should be released several times during the week.
When Manny Pacquiao won an important boxing match in November 2011, Nescafé congratulated him on the page. The status got over 5,900 Likes and 2,200 Comments. We recently greeted fans a Happy Independence Day, a status that got over 8,200 Likes and 1,500 Shares. Even a recent status update about coffee habits, asking fans about the traditional habit of dipping pan de sal (the iconic Filipino version of a bun or baguette) in their coffee, got over 8,700 Likes and over 1,600 comments.
Larger-scale activities create peaks of excitement.
Whether branded content videos or utility- or entertainment-based apps, these key content pieces can be directly linked from marketing communications and be integrated with ALT communications. This type of content can be released monthly or quarterly and can be based on thematic or tactical communication.
Nescafé example: Nescafé has created applications that help fans discover which 3 in 1 flavor fits them best, ask how they prepare their Classic, or turn friends’ status messages into a customized bedtime story to enjoy with their Decaf.
Positive reinforcement for fans to be reminded how much a brand values their participation.
This can be done through apps that offer utility or a reward program, but should be a complement to the fanpage strategy. This helps a brand maintain a semblance of platform-centricity on Facebook, that can complement any thematic campaigns or apps.
Nescafé example: Nescafé Points is the reward program that runs alongside every app. Fans get Points every time they engage with an application, which they can exchange for branded merchandise like Nescafé mugs and shirts.
Maintaining engagement through participation is the biggest challenge but, done right, can pay off with great brand benefits.
Level 3: Ambassadorship
They may not realize it, but fans who participate on a brand’s page end up becoming Ambassadors—their comments on brand status updates and participation in branded apps can be posted on their Walls for potential new fans to see.
With Nescafé Philippines, active fans keep our Wall buzzing—60 percent of our base regularly comes back to the page. In Nescafé Insights, a study done to optimize our Facebook efforts, fans told us they appreciate a brand that listens and gives them a forum where they can dialogue with us. Most importantly they told us they are encouraged to keep visiting the Nescafé page because of how alive it is with brand and fan content every time they come back. They may not realize that it is they and fellow fans who make this possible—our status updates get an average of 1200 Likes and 280 Comments.
Level 4: Brand-building
To gauge the impact of Nescafé Points, we launched Nescafé Insights, a study within Nescafé Points that surveyed 6,000 members of our fanpage.
Affinity. We asked fans: “After participating in Nescafé Facebook Fanpage activities, what do you think of Nescafé?”
They enjoy keeping in touch with a brand they love. “Nescafé completes my day. I love it that they interact with their consumers who loooove their products. Nescafé Rocks! :D”
They re-affirmed their love for the brand. “Masayang kasama ang Nescafé araw-araw.” [Nescafé is my most enjoyable everyday companion..]
“Nescafé gives me an excitement to open regularly the fanpage.”
Brand Health. The data from the Nescafé Insights show that:
99 percent of fans say Nescafé is the brand they trust;
96 percent says it’s the brand they feel close to;
97 percent say it’s the brand they love;
94 percent say it enhances their ordinary moments;
94 percent say it’s for people like them and;
97 percent affirmed that Nescafé is their favorite coffee brand.
Purchase integration. The long-term vision for Nescafé Points is to allow fans to earn Points when they buy any Nescafé product. Clients have approved this and we are working on finding the easiest and most user-friendly way to integrate this capability within our reward system.
We have been so fortunate with Nescafé to see best practices flourish in a platform that allows us to try and learn. We have been thrilled with the growth of our fanbase, the consistently high participation, their continued and eager ambassadorship, and hopefully, a lift in business performance. The best proof we have at present? 97 percent of fans surveyed on Nescafé Insights said they were more willing to drink Nescafé after engaging with us online.
The author is Digital Planning Director at MRM Manila, and handles Nescafé, Coca-Cola, Sprite and Rexona. She tweets as @beaa and blogs at www.beyourdigitalbest.com. She lives to travel to new cities, has an affinity for subway maps and enjoys breathing life into ad agency work by providing a digital point-of-view.