Key Factors that make Brands succeed on Facebook

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“Your Brand needs to be on Facebook.” It’s the first thing anyone says these days and honestly, it makes me wince. There’s a reason why most brand ‘Fan Pages’ on Facebook are desolate wastelands that do precisely nothing for the brand’s reputation or sales. Starting a Fan Page is easy, getting a few hundred people to join (your friends, their friends, so on and so forth) is also very easy. And then, what? How does that make your brand a Superstar on Facebook? This post is not about being a Facebook party-pooper, it’s about the factors that make certain brands a phenomenal success on Facebook while the majority report no measurable success whatsoever. Social Media Marketing is not very different from conventional marketing, when it comes down to the basics, and it is essential that the fundamentals of the latter are not ignored in an attempt to quickly adopt the former. Let’s go back and take a look at dear old Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Maslow’s hierarchy is one of the first theories taught in any marketing course, as a basis of understanding the consumer’s motives behind choosing one brand over another in the market. A brand that fills up any or some of the above-mentioned 5 types of voids (or deficiency needs) in the consumer’s life, better than the competitor, will be the one the consumer chooses. Extending the theory to social media, the first question one needs to ask oneself before creating a Fan Page is what void does the brand fulfill in the target group’s life. The second question, of course, is whether that need is something a consumer would like to have all their Facebook contacts know of. In the context of consumer behaviour, social media is all about the top two deficiency needs- Self actualisation and Esteem. I might love a  cheap value-for-money brand, but I really don’t want that to be displayed on my Facebook profile where everyone can see it! I might prefer a no-fuss, reasonably priced Transcend mp3 player but I’m going to be a ‘fan’ of the iPod because it makes me seem discerning, individualistic (ironically) and well-to-do. I may not care much for Body Shop cosmetics but the company has a reputation for being ‘ethical’ and ‘environment-friendly’: it gives me a chance to display my support for these causes. Am I saying that some Brands just can’t be ‘Big’ on Facebook because of the identity they have built? Yes.

However, if  coolness-by-association and/or the opportunity to be an activist without having to move from one’s seat, is not what your brand can provide consumers online, can you provide them with  information that  is unique and can make life easier for them in some way? You could be a bank, an engineering firm or an Equity firm- not very cool- but the information you can provide can make you valuable on Facebook. Like I said, making a Fan Page on Facebook is very easy but the question that will define your brand’s success on Facebook is, “What’s in it for me?”

 

 

Nestle’s Social Media Fail

Oh dear. Nestle is having its backside handed to it on Facebook in what will go down in many a Business School text-book as one of the worst Social Media Fail case studies. Nestle has been facing boycott campaigns for more than 30 years now but we didn’t have Social Media in the 70s and 80s, did we? Now that we do, the crap has hit the fan and how! Their page on Facebook is flooded with uncomplimentary messages after whoever manages their PR/Social Media operations threatened to delete comments that protested against the company’s alleged role in the illegal clearance of rainforests by using altered versions of their logo, that quite ironically uses the image of a nest of birds.

It all started when Greenpeace alleged Nestle’s palm oil supplier Sinar Mars was involved  in illegal rainforest clearance in Indonesia. A virtual protest movement took birth with people using altered versions of the Nestle logo as their Display Pictures and posting some pretty strong comments on the company’s Facebook page.  Nestle replied saying, “We welcome your comments, but please don’t post using an altered version of any of our logos as your profile pic — they will be deleted.” To nobody’s surprise that post received around 166 comments, most of which were pretty acidic.

A commenter Paul Griffin wrote, “I understand that you’re on your back-foot due to various issues not excluding palm oil but social media is about embracing your market, engaging and having a conversation rather than preaching!” To which Nestle replied saying, “Thanks for the lesson in manners. Consider yourself embraced. But it’s our page, we set the rules, it was ever thus.” Uh oh. What a whopper of a fail!

Nestle had cancelled its contract with Sinar Mas when the protests first broke out. But instead of assuring people who commented on their page that they had done so, were learning from their mistakes, and valued their customers’ opinions they decided to channel the spirit of a petulant 5-year-old instead. You DO NOT set the rules when you venture into Social Media, you’re an equal. You use the space to converse with your consumers and tide over a crisis like this by assuaging their doubts about your practices and products, not by acting like a playground bully. How is Nestle going to get out of this one?