Facebook: deeper relations and magical growth

Facebook is good for tightening relations with existing customers as well as getting new ones.

Facebook or Twitter?

If you’re wondering which is more effective, I have the answer:

it’s Facebook.

Why am I so sure?

It’s not that I am a fan of Facebook. I object to their privacy policies. I hardly ever post on my account and when I do, I do it reluctantly.

But ever since I first worked with Facebook for clients, I’ve been surprised how effective this platform can be.

To put a number on it: posting similar messages on Facebook and Twitter gives, on average, ten times more feedback on Facebook.

It’s a huge difference.

Part of the reason is a flaw in the way that Twitter works. I explain this in the article Use Twitter to search and help, but in a nutshell it’s this: not everyone who follows you on Twitter is actually interested in what you have to say.

That’s not the case with Facebook: if people follow you, they are genuinely interested.

And Facebook has another major strength: it’s a private platform.

Into the Living Room

Companies and organizations can reach out to Facebook-users by setting up so-called ‘Pages’.

They were given the possibility in November 2007. By this time, Facebook was already well established as a private network and that hasn’t changed: people use Facebook first and foremost to interact with friends.

Why is this an advantage?

Because it allows companies to reach out to users in what is essentially a private sphere. And the best thing is the way the messages get delivered.

Let’s take a look.

This is a screenshot of Coca-Cola’s Facebook page.

The Facebook Like button - the ticket into your private sphere

The first time you go there, you see the famous ‘Like’-button.

Assume you click it.

From this moment on, every message from Coca-Cola is delivered to you. You don’t have to go anywhere to pick it up. It appears right there, on your wall, between the posts of Debra and George.

Facebook: Coke's post comes to your wall.

That is a great way to deliver a message. It’s like marketing right into the living room: you reach people in a private moment, a moment when they aren’t rushed, a moment when they are open to ‘other things’.

It’s also counterintuitive.

You could assume that people don’t want to have such news in a private environment.

But they do, and it’s not just kids that follow Coca-Cola. All kinds of people follow all kinds of Pages: small brands, big brands, WWF campaigns, Yoga advice, Sports news, the local shop down the street  — you name it.

The system works and there are two ways you can use it.

Tighter relations

One way is to deepen relations with people you already know.

That’s what this restaurant around my corner does. Trop Bon is a small Slow Food-place where everything is organic and made with passion. They use their Facebook-Page to introduce weekly specials and they also share recipes.

Their posts are informative, and because of it, I end up going there more often. Their Facebook page tightens their relation with me and over 400 other followers. That is a respectable number for a neighborhood restaurant and, I am sure, good for business.

But Facebook is not just good to stay in touch with existing customers.

It is also good in getting you new followers – people you’ve never been in contact with before.

Magical growth

Actually, Facebook is spectacularly good at that.

The reason is that our interactions are visible to our friends.

Let’s say you like photography and that you ‘like’ the Nikon-page.

Your friends will see that. And because friends tend to have similar interests, some of them may also take interest in the Nikon-Page and ‘like’ it.

And there are different ways people can interact with your content. Take the comments, they are a good example of how visible interactions are on Facebook.

This becomes very clear in comparison with Twitter.

Here are three ‘tweets’ by Stephen Fry.

Stephen Fry on Twitter: the conversation isn't visible

The one in the middle is an answer to @sebastianflyte. But you can’t see that person’s post. Twitter shows snippets of a conversation, not the conversation itself. (Note: this has changed a little since I published this post. But conversations are still far less visible than on Facebook.)

Compare this to Facebook. These are answers to a question that the famous Internet-retailer Zappos posted:

Zappos on Facebook: the whole conversation is visible

It only takes a click of the mouse to view all comments on your wall.

The fact that you can see the whole conversation, makes it much more inviting to take part in it. And for every person that leaves a comment, there’s a whole circle of friends that may take interest in the Zappos-Page.

It’s viral and it’s how the number of followers on Facebook can grow over night.

The great thing is this: you don’t have to mobilize additional marketing activities to reach more and more people. All you have to do, is focus on your content.

That’s worth repeating: if you manage to publish interesting and relevant content, your Page will grow automatically.

Not bad no?

Can it work for you?

With over 800 million users, chances are that some of your target group is on Facebook.

People from all walks of life are there, spanning generations, from kids to grandmas, from plumbers to CEOs.

The question therefore is not so much whether your target group is on Facebook but whether you have content that makes them ‘like’ your page.

It takes dedication to achieve that, no matter whether you tighten relations with existing customers or whether you also want to get more followers.

True, a message on Facebook can be short and sweet and is much less work than a blog post, for example.

But you still need to ‘have’ the right things to talk about. And you have to present them in a way that touches the nerve of your audience.

Facebook also demands that you post regularly and that is particularly true if you want to use Facebook’s viral potential to reach more and more people. No post, no visibility, it’s as simple as that.

Passion helps

Not to forget that a Facebook-Page is a living thing.

You will get comments and questions and you need to answer them. To do that, you have to check your Page regularly and that means that you have to make Facebook part of your everyday workflow. That again is something you have to be realistic about, not least because it’s an effort that you have to sustain over time.

But what you need most, is passion.

Passion for what you do, passion for putting out good content and passion to interact with your customers and followers.

If you enjoy all that, Facebook can be a good investment – and a lot of fun.

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