Amongst all the fancy infographics Facebook is really quite simple – it’s a space to create a two-way conversation, either brand to person or person to person around things they have a common interest in. A basic rule of thumb is that if people are happy to chat about it in the pub they’re happy to talk about it on Facebook and it’s a good platform to build engagement with your fans for relatively little investment.
As Facebook continues to shout about its massive numbers and forecasts expecting it to hit 1 billion users by August, more and more brands are sticking their hands into the Facebook fire forgetting what their mummys told them “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”. A classic example being Femfresh who have had to suspend their Facebook page following consumer backlash and a flurry of fake pages being created – remember the pub, the need to mask your vagina odour is certainly not a regular conversation topic in my local. They’ve learned the hard way that Facebook is not for everyone.
Beer and pubs is different though – Facebook is the perfect platform and, if done well, can get more people talking about you and, importantly trying your wares than ever before. But, and it’s an important but, just like Twitter, Facebook is not about reach, it’s about engagement – reaching the right people with the right content. If you want people to like you and your brand you’ve got to make it worth their while.
Facebook is far from new and there’s already a lot of brands using it so what can we learn / steal from what’s already out there?
Don’t Hard Sell – Don’t just share your own content or spend all of your time promoting yourself. You can get away with this a little more if you are a blogger promoting your blog posts, but if you are a brand and all you’re doing is announcing the latest deals, nobody’s going to care. People come to Facebook for a discussion, not a deal. By far the vast majority of Brewdog posts are just links to content on their website – if I wanted that I’d visit their website.
Share and Share Alike – Be sure to share content that is appealing to your audience. Even if you have an active page with plenty of discussions, if you aren’t offering something that can’t be found elsewhere your community is just as easily lost as gained. Share interesting and entertaining content that people can’t find elsewhere, and you will attract a great deal of attention. There is very little content on the Brewdog page that is new although they have started a #Brewdogging page encouraging people to post up their own photos. Given the number of baby photos though they want to hope no one sets up a fake beerleaks website and reports them to the ASA (who now govern digital sites rather than Portman) for being in breach of guideline 18.16 about the use of photos of people under the age of 25……..
Love my beer, love me – if you want to be seen as non conformist and punk of course you’ll post photos of the office cupcakes but just because people like your beer doesn’t mean they’re interested in everything you are. Since your fans won’t see everyone of your posts there’s a danger you’ll be seen as wasting their time on stuff they’re not interested in. Stick to a mix of brand related contented and you’ll have much more engaged fans in the long run.
The lack of new content on Facebook smacks of Brewdog having a page becauase they can and not really taking it seriously – they’ve a way to go to really be “awesome” on Facebook.
Despite topping the Golden Pint Awards last year, the Kernel Brewery aren’t creating the same impression on Facebook. Assuming this is their own page they have made the mistake of using a personal page and not a fan page, which is not only violating the terms of Facebook use but won’t let them build up an engaged fanbase. Here’s why…
Is Anybody There – there’s no point having a Facebook page if no one can find it. Despite the growing capabilities of Facebook’s search engine, a personal page is not made to be found in public search and won’t be indexed by Google. Intrinsic features of a personal profile are to help individuals make connections at a personal level. You want people to be able to find you, unless you’re a fan page you won’t show up in search and you’ll miss out.
People Like People – and they won’t friend a business. If it’s set up as a personal page I have to friend you meaning your business can see all my drunken holiday snaps and school photo, that’s more enagagement than most people want with a brand. Let me like you – don’t expect me to love you!
Build it and They Will Come – they won’t and you can’t market a personal page. Fan pages have lots more bells and whistles. A profile cannot have more than 5000 friends, whereas for a page, the sky is the limit. You cannot create dedicated landing pages or customize the pages with profiles, build polls, ads and get anayltics to see if all the effort you’re making is worthwhile.
Hardknott Brewery on the other hand have made a sensible first step onto Facebook by claiming their vanity URL. Like trademarking your name this makes good sense and stops anyone else trying to use it. However you may notice they are somewhat lacking in content (remember remember – CONTENT IS KING) which means disappointment when people do find them. To claim your URL you need to claim the page and get 25 likes – my advice would be at that point unpublish until you are ready to run the page properly – people won’t come back a second time if you’ve nothing worth hanging around for and you’ll miss out on fans when you are ready.
So who gets my Facebook gold star…….*drum roll*……New Belgium Brewing who seem to have the whole digital space licked. They obviously get Facebook and have invested a lot of money in creating bespoke content and activity. They use Facebook specific competitions, keep it updated regularly with relevent content and it’s little wonder they have over 250k fans. My favourite is their Beer Streaming Apps, a live video feed that allows facebook fans to engage with comments in real time with New Belgium hosts. Very smart indeed.
Clearly they’ve invested big bucks behind it which not everyone can do so a cheaper lesson closer to home from Bombardier who stick “Bang On” topic with their posts and also make use of all of the free to use Facebook tools such as polls and questions which are an easy way to build engagement and get shared from profile to profile. Just goes to show you don’t need to invest big bucks but you do need to invest time – if you can’t you’re best off not bothering.
If you still think Facebook is for you and have the time and / or money to make it work than remember when it comes to posting – less is more. Facebook suggests that brands start out with one or two posts a week to see what works best for their fans. The quickest way to turn people off is to post too often, more than once per day as an example can actually have an adverse effect and have people hitting the unlike button. The averages user “likes” four to six new Pages each month, so you are always fighting an uphill battle for attention. It’s better to post one awesome item instead of two decent ones. That doesn’t mean you can’t keep your page active and engage with you fans – there’s more to life than posting. You can “like” or respond to comments , and remember to tag the people you’re replying to — that’s a great and easy way to get people to come back to. You can even keep on top of it from the depths of the brewery thanks to the new Facebook Brand Page Manager app.
One final thing – USE FACEBOOK INSIGHTS.
You’ll never know if all your effort and investment is paying off without them – you’d be a busy fool not to pay attention to all the data you can get and use it to make your page work harder, not you! Pay attention to Friends of Fans, for the top 1,000 brands on Facebook, the Friends of Fans number is 81 times larger than the fan count meaning if you get your content right there’s a huge potential audience that can be tapped into (because your fans’ activity will show up in friends’ feeds).
And never overlook the real-time insights, which help you see the impact of pinning, highlighting and promoting posts helping you to see what works best and when so you and your fans get the most out of your page.