Marketing 101: Engage your fans on Facebook!

By Ayesha Shuaib
Published: May 30, 2011

Social media networks are among the most effective marketing tools in modern business. DESIGN: S.JAMAL

The social media boom simply cannot be ignored. Over the past few years Facebook has witnessed a remarkable rise in new users and right now has more than 500 million users and with that has come the opportunity for brands to amalgamate directly with existing customers and connect to new ones through fan pages. It is like having an amazing advertising campaign without paying a penny. All the tools and applications used are free of cost and the best part is the rewards are instant.

Fan pages allow you to brand your business, use your logo and customise your page style just as you would your website. With this extremely valuable tool available, you can keep your brand stable across the board as it relates to all aspects of your online presence. There are numerous ways for brands to promote themselves on Facebook by having a single “Fan” page.

Your brand’s fan page allows you to have an unlimited number of “fans”. Some Facebook fan pages have thousands and even millions of fans. As per the latest statistic Facebook page Texas Hold’em Poker tops the list with 43,552,626 fans. While the fan page for Facebook itself is at 2nd spot with 41,951,143 fans, Eminem takes third place with 37,420,794 fans, followed by pop star, Lady Gaga and YouTube – the video sharing website – with more than 35 million fans each. Hence, if any promotional update is posted on any one of these pages it appears in the news feed of each fan. Imagine how easy it is to reach out to millions of people with your message by just having a single fan page.

Be dynamic

However, creating a fan page, generating a promotion and sitting back will not lead to success. One needs to engage the fans-customers. When fans “like” a certain brand’s page they need to be provided with content or activities to keep them active on the page. You can share content, videos, photos, run contests, ask questions, create polls etc. The interaction will build relationships with your fans which are your target market. Otherwise, having a fan page without interaction or input from the fans will lead to nothing. Just a dead end.

To keep your page alive it is important to launch an interactive activity every day. Facebook has provided and is coming up with new interesting tabs and tools which can be utilised by brands for maximum outreach. Easiest way to do that is by daily status updates. The more engaging your status update, the greater the chances of having interaction on it, in form of “like” and comments and greater word-of-mouth marketing for your business in return.

Keep it short and simple

The shorter your communication the easier it is for your fans to read, the more likely it is for them to respond. Keep your status updates short and simple. Facebook allows you have up to 420 characters per update, but shorter is better. For longer updates, one can use the Notes app or write a blog post and update. Do the same for any kind of advertising campaign. If you are introducing any contest make its communication simple and to the point.

Be direct with your fans. Use the word “you” more often “What do you think?”, “What are your thoughts?” etc. This makes customers/fans feel valued, respected and included. They would like to participate in activities on your page and make their presence felt. Most people will come back to your fan page only if there’s a real sense of community.

Contests are one of the most effective ways of keeping your fans interested and engaged. Introduce various competitions with giveaways to keep the fans involved.

Be timely

A study found that daily Facebook engagement has three peaks: early morning, after work and late at night. Therefore, posting all of your updates during the workday means you’re missing key prospects to engage fans at non-work hours. It does vary from brand to brand so get to know when your fans are most responsive. Depending on which part of the world the majority of your fans are, you might want to post between 9 am and 2 pm in your time zone.

Do your best to respond to fan wall posts as punctually as possible, at least within 24 hours or so. By leaving your fans unanswered might discourage them to contribute any further and you, as a brand, wouldn’t want that.

Use the apps provided

Facebook recently introduced a new Question application. It helps you have surveys, random interaction, fans views and suggestion in shorter span of time. Make sure you don’t overdo it. Try for a maximum of three to four updates a day, preferably just two updates in a day. Otherwise, your fans might restrict your posts from their news feed and hence they won’t be getting any information of the promotional activity you do.
There is no denying the fact that Facebook pages are breeding grounds for excellent feedback and engagement with your customers. It’s simple and always available. And best of all, its free!

The writer is a social media manager at Prymus Technologies and blogs at https://socialyzd.wordpress.com
Published in The Express Tribune, May 30th, 2011
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Move over outsourcing, make way for crowdsourcing!

By Ayesha Shuaib

Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2011

The new way to get things done is to get the people involved. DESIGN: ESSA MALIK

We have all heard of outsourcing. This was the buzzword in the 90s, and was more often heard in conjunction with the IT industry, but is a factor in almost any industry around the world today. But if there is any aspect of the industry which is ever-evolving and finding new ways to get the message across and get things done, it is the aspect of maximising output and minimising input. And crowd sourcing fits right into that philosophy.

Crowd sourcing is the act of taking a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people, in the form of an open call. Put in laymen’s terms, it’s the idea of taking a job you need done and making it available for anyone who wants to just show up and do it – preferably for free.

The most common scenario for a crowd source project starts with a company with a problem. The company posts the problem on a crowd sourcing platform and requests solutions from the widely distributed Web community. Users upload solutions and the crowd votes on the best idea or project.

Engaging your fans is the fundamental aim of crowd sourcing. There are many brands locally which adapted crowedsourcing as a marketing tool and have been immensely successful. There are numerous examples and success stories in the local market as well, proving that this is indeed a very efficient way of getting the job done.

Make an Ad
One such event that we launched for one of our clients was a “Make the Ad” competition. We asked our fans to make an electronic ad about one of our products. We announced attractive gifts for winners and runners up. That worked really well as a marketing tool for our clients and we received numerous ads. In order to indulge the fans further they were asked to vote for the top eight ads. Again, the voting lead to engaging fans who themselves were not directly related to the competition. This activity was extended for more than a month which got us an ad, which we wanted; it got us thousands of fans and also generated lively interaction.

Talent Hunt
In October 2010, a leading tea manufacturing company rolled out a ‘”Talent Hunt”, running a competition in multiple universities, with a task to build a fan page consistent with the brand’s tagline. With competing teams chosen from seven leading business universities, the registration process accepted all the business plans submitted within the allocated budget for executing a social media campaign within three weeks. It instantly became a hit due its specific target market, the educational institutes with the highest number of social media users.

Ad War
In another such exercise, a leading university in collaboration with a fast food chain, launched an interuniversity ad-making competition.

Students were invited to make an electronic ad of the brand and get a chance of winning Rs50,000 in cash. The campaign was promoted on Social Media fan pages and groups of not only the university but also the brand. Each participant further helped in promoting the campaign by posting the ads and updates on their personal social media profiles.

This proved to be a huge success as student life does comprises eating out with friends and having fun – hence the strategy of crowd sourcing hit a bulls eye by selecting the best target audience. Their idea of crowd sourcing worked really well for them.

Pre Launch Campaign
One of Pakistan’s Leading cellular company launched it self with the help of crowdsourcing. Announcements were made through electronic as well as print media asking the audience to suggest a name for the brand. It ran a campaign for almost a month and then finally came up with a name as suggested by the audience with maximum number of votes. This activity gained the brand a lot of customers even before being actually launched.

The crowdsourcing possibilities have increased over the last two decades as web applications have improved. It has become very easy to access your clients directly and get a feedback in a minimum span of time. Thanks to social media, it’s become easier to ask your customers to contribute to product development or collaborate on other creative endeavors. Not only is it doable, it’s been done, and with great success, by major brands. It not only builds a strong relationship between consumers and the products but makes the consumer feel like a part of the brand as well.

Hence, you can very easily out source your competitors by rightly crowd-sourcing.

The author is a social media officer at Prymus Technologies and regularly contributes at socialyzd.wordpress.com

Market in a Timely Manner – I

Definition:

Marketing is the process of interesting potential customers and clients in your products and/or services. The key word in this marketing definition is “process”; marketing involves researching, promoting, selling, and distributing your products or services.

Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business developments. It is an integrated process through which companies build strong customer relationships and create value for their customers and for themselves.

Market in a Timely Manner

One of the most important aspects to keep in mind about marketing materials is the timing of message or offer. You want your marketing piece to reach your target audience at a time when your product or service is relevant, and when they might be in the market to buy.

A few things to consider when considering the timeliness of your marketing:

Does your offer include and expiration date? If so, be sure that your message is received in advance so that the offer is still good and the prospect has an opportunity to take advantage.

Is your product or service seasonal? Be sure to market your company during peak buying times. For example, it would do you no good to advertise for summer cloths in winters or vise versa. Also make maximum use of occassions or events that are close to the society.

When are you most likely to reach your target audience? When marketing with T.V., Radio, Internet, or email, identify when your customers are tuning in and reach out to them then. Its even advisable to research and then select your time slot. Always select the peak time of viewership for advertising.

Are your marketing messages automated? Automated marketing via the internet, email, or social media is a real time saver, but be sure that your automation is timed correctly.

Think ahead when planning your marketing strategy. If your marketing piece is time sensitive you need to start preparing in advance. It is important to keep in mind the time span of your advertisement or marketing strategy. Just like there are sales in winter clothing right before the arrival of summer and ends with-in couple of weeks before launching new clothing for summer season. Similarly, make sure you don’t go on bragging about you product r service way before or ahead of time. The timing must be accurate enough to generate maximum revenue.