Growth, It Happens.
As the Social Media guy (manager, dude, whatever) at Seagate, I have seen social media go from something that was an incremental piece of the communications landscape to a “must have” for many functions within the company. While that’s all good and validates the understanding of the power of social media it does pose a bit of problem: how does a large corporation strategically support all these functions without muddying the waters and turn people away from the communities it’s trying to build? The answer I’m finding is that through some trial and error, companies may need to constantly rethink their approach to social media particularly as new functions within the organization look for real estate in the social media world.
I began this journey by building a Facebook Fan Page in the summer of 2008. As I’ve watched over the last several months, the unavoidable requirement for Facebook to support companies and their passionate desire to market f themselves on social networks has become a tidal wave of opportunity for third-party developers, marketers, small to medium businesses, and huge global companies. In most companies the social media foundation has been laid, the frame built, drywall, sheetrock, plumbing, electrical, flooring, paint…you name it….it’s now done here. Now it is time to sit back and figure out the next steps that make sense for your company. In social media, specific strategies need to be applied to EACH social media tool that is used by a company. On top of that, global companieshave multiple market segments and personas that have to be tended to, all of which are sprinkled throughout the various platforms/social sites. In this case, it’s more important than ever to move beyond the main house you’ve built, containing the furniture and feng shui that is the current social media entity and to start building a community with different neighborhoods in certain parts of ‘town’. I know I’m speaking a lot in metaphors. I do that a lot and apologize if you are confused about this blog post. I just liken building a marketing effort, – short term and long term, with building a house from scratch, adding surrounding neighborhoods, and beyond. Anyhow, this is the point where I believe you need to start modifying your strategy, one social site/network at a time, with the big and little picture in mind.
First Up: Facebook
So in the beginning, the Gods of Facebook created groups. We started one for Seagate. Shortly after, they created Fan Pages. The benefit to fan pages was the zing and marketing-esque options, they way they updated people’s feeds, etc. The Seagate Fan Page was born. Very quickly this page has grown in content, userbase (fanbase ?), and most importantly – the amount of interaction with peeps from all over the world.
Many companies are at this point in their FB plan. One big corporate FB Fan Page with a variety of company information. What happens then when other functions and departments want to promote their particular product of service that is very specific and unique? No, is probably not the right answer. But what is the right answer? . With every company in the world looking to reduce their budgets to save money and become more efficient, many departments see Facebook fan pages as an opportunity to market their specific product or service. It’s all good, but what are the paths that can be taken to ensure alignment and messaging without damaging your company’s rep? Initially, I thought let’s duplicate content and have a “the more, the better” approach. Then I thought about how duplicated content on multiple web properties for a company was something that had always rubbed me the wrong way. I’ve never liked the shotgun approach to marketing because I always felt like it was lazy and underestimated (publicly and bluntly) our customers. At the same time, as the Social Media point person, you want to support their efforts. There-in lays the rub.
I’ve been watching companies/entities like Dell, Zappo’s, and the USAA closely, and how they’ve been extremely proactive with social media, allowing themselves to get their hands dirty in fairly uncharted territory when it comes to marketing their brands on social sites (outside of normal banner adverts). Dell has multiple pages that are fairly niched out but I still don’t feel like there’s much of a coordinated effort there…lots of pages with tons of content all the time. I’d prefer an approach that attempts to more cohesively connect Facebook pages strategically. And that’s exactly the approach I’m taking. Is it the right or only answer? Maybe. Maybe not. As I said, companies have to constantly go through a bit of trial and error and make corrections along the way.
Before building something like this you have to ask a few questions to legitimize the usefulness and need that a business unit or department would have for creating a Facebook fan page under your company’s umbrella. Questions like, “Is there a business benefit to marketing your department outside of the company?” or “Are resources available that can tend to the administration, maintenance and content of your page?” should be asked. Just make sure everyone is wanting to do this for your company for the right reasons and the same corporate message.
A couple general rules I like to adhere to for these fan pages is stuff I’ve mentioned above:
1. Avoid grossly duplicative content from any other company fan page unless it’s relevant to the purpose/subject matter of the fan page in question. Keep the content focused and precise and relevant. When someone joins a fan page that has a certain title and description, they are there to get that content and not be upsold everything else that the company has under the sun. You lose people that way, quickly.
2. Overarching content ideas should always be funneled through the person or team that is the official holder of the social media keys to the kingdom for a large company. Social media is fast and furious and people notice problems and discrepancies with everything that companies post. The internet as we know is forever, so if silos start happening within your company, ESPECIALLY on a social network, Twitter, etc. you risk a PR nightmare and potential legal issues…plus your company looks confused and clueless internally. No bueno.
I’m interested in hearing from anyone who has or manages a multi-tiered Facebook Fan Page enviornment (or equivalent on another social site). Please chime in here also if you have feedback, other ideas, disagree etc….please post your thoughts. I’m open to new ideas here as well.
Thanks for reading and happy Facebooking!