I posed the question to my professional network on LinkedIn to gauge the level of interest, and specifically some real-world examples with operational insights, as well as possible ROI or PR impact. What I asked was "What kinds of things is your brand doing on its Facebook FAN page? What is the level of engagement? Is it a free for all, or is it tightly monitored and censored? Do you have any specific examples of REVENUE generating promotions, campaigns or ideas that you've successfully executed or seen executed via the FB fan page?"
What I got back was interesting.
Guillaume Foutry writes:
At 77Agency we have a fan page for our agency, 77Academy (our training program) and 77Lab (our blog). We launched these three pages to communicate more easily with people. The level of engagement depends on your community and topic, but yes you have some possibilities of analyzing your traffic.
Emory Cook writes:
Facebook pages are so essential, and so easy to maintain! I tend to lean toward leaving them open for all to use--Facebook (and social media in general) is about dialogue and meaningful conversation, and your company's fans won't appreciate being censored. But I understand the realities of PR, and some sites may not be appropriate for public viewing (for instance, we maintain the fan page of a non-profit organization for kids, and we don't allow their photos to be viewed publicly--you have to be a fan). Facebook has great privacy settings and also has wonderful control features for administrators of fan pages.
As far as ROI is concerned, I can testify to Facebook's amazing PR potential. I'm currently using a client's fan page to promote its upcoming product line for 2009, and the page's fan base has increased 13 times in the past 48 hours. I also recently used a Facebook group to encourage fans of another client to vote for its CEO to be featured in a state-wide business magazine. The response was enormous, he won the vote, and was featured in the magazine. PR via Facebook!
David Collison writes:
We set up a Facebook page at the beginning of March, with a general feeling of scepticism among my directors that we should actually be doing this, but we had a new TV advert I wanted people to see, and this appeared to be an ideal opportunity. We have it open and free to everyone.
The number of fans is growing daily, our TV advert has been seen thousands of times and we have some great comments from customers.
Colin Andrews writes:
We invited all our old customers to join our fan page through a competition: we wanted photographs for our website and brochures and so got our customers to tag their facebook photos and write testimonials.
Overall response was about 20% of people we initially mailed took part in the competition. Result was our material now has original photographs of our customers with testimonials. It cost $1000 in prizes for about 20 images. Great value as far as we were concerned.
Once the fanbase was established, we now use it to advertise promotions, and often will contact customers directly to remind them of an approaching deadline. We also had indentified all of our active customers; the ones who would be the best people to target to help us market though word of mouth. For the most part we use the fan page as an alternative to email. But while most people will ignore emails, pretty much everyone will read a Facebook notification.
Overall, I think that big brands have taken advantage of the Fan page properly, maximizing exposure, promoting offers and other things the drive actual revenue, and in general engaging their audience like any other channel. (some, not all). As far as small and medium sized businesses, there are lots of opportunities to improve. The regionality of the Facebook Social Ads makes it a breeze to be able to message specific target groups. Even the updates from the Facebook Fan Pages can be demographically, socio-economically, and psychographically targeted with a few clicks. Considering starting a Fan Page is free (except for resources) it makes sense for every business to have one as an integrated part of their social media strategy.
Feel free to give me your own answer via LinkedIn or in the comments below. Connect with me on LinkedIn using linkedin(at)andrewkinnear(dot)com