Facebook may not be the holy grail of customer engagement after all. Jessica Furseth finds that there are better ways for businesses to connect with customers.
Only 0.07% of fans interact with top brands’ Facebook posts, research house Forrester has found. This is alarming for brands as Facebook is often front-and-centre for corporations’ social media efforts. Earlier this year, research from Ogilvy found that large brands’ Facebook posts reached just 2% of fans, and the number is falling. With numbers like these, what’s the point of using Facebook?
Facebook looked like such a great place for businesses to advertise because it was so easy to reach specific demographics – the social network knows a lot more about its users’ personal lives than traditional media outlets. Not only does Facebook know users’ ages, locations and occupations, but it also has personal knowledge, such as whether someone is nostalgic for ‘90s music. Advertisers were quick to put this information to use, sometimes quite bluntly: the second you change your relationship status to ‘married’, the ads for baby clothes come flooding in.
Part of the reason why companies are struggling to reach Facebook fans is because the social network is making it harder to get noticed without paying. But another reason is that the information overload is making people more discerning about their online environments – people will only engage with brands they really like. But this is actually good for companies:
“Stop making Facebook the center of your relationship marketing efforts. That same survey shows that US online adults who want to stay in touch with your brand are almost twice as likely to sign up for your emails as to interact with you on Facebook,” says Nate Elliott, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester. Emails get delivered more than 90% of the time, adds Elliott, and if a customer opens an email you know this is a deliberate act: they actually want to know.
Companies keen to nurture their superfans will also be pleased to hear that branded communities are on their way back. Forrester found that internet users interested in a brand are almost three times as likely to visit their site than interact on Facebook. “Many brands try to garner word of mouth by posting content on Facebook and hoping it goes viral. But this ‘post and pray’ method rarely works,” says Elliott. “The right way to create word of mouth Advocate communities. Invite a few hundred of your most satisfied customers into an exclusive forum, issue them word-of-mouth challenges, rank them on a leaderboard, and watch your reach multiply.”
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