As Facebook's star continues to rise, marketers are eager to include themselves in this fast evolving social experience. According to new research from Forrester, the best Facebook marketers are maximizing their pages' exposure, posting frequently, and encouraging fans to interact on many levels.
"Interactive marketers must ensure that their customers can find the brand's page, that it has fresh and compelling content, and that once those customers are fans, they will able to participate in the community," explains Forrester analyst and report author Melissa Parrish.
Along with a global reach of more than 500 million users, a full 63% of U.S. online adults are now on Facebook. As a result, the top social net is at the top of many lists when marketers decide where to pursue their social strategies.
However, the sheer size of the potential audience is overwhelming many marketers, and leaving them feeling unprepared and even inadequate, according Parrish.
After analyzing the pages of 30 top national marketers, Forrester came away with some interesting findings. For one, amassing an enormous number of fans is neither the only nor the most important goal for many brands on Facebook -- but it doesn't hurt.
The companies Forrester found with the most fans made their pages easy to find by creating multiple fan pages, cross-promoting them, and using a vanity URL. All five of the pages with the highest numbers of fans, and 86% of the pages overall, were one of several fan pages for their parent companies. Organization of the pages tends to be by product, region, or business unit. For example, Google has its main page, plus pages for Google TV, Google Maps, and iGoogle. By adding all of the company's pages to each's Favorite Pages section, Google helps re-circulate its fans and create an association between one product or brand and the umbrella company.
Meanwhile, 93% of the fan pages Forrester evaluated, and all five of the pages with the largest audiences, had a customized vanity URL. Starbucks' page, for example, can be found at facebook.com/Starbucks, and Home Depot's page is at facebook.com/homedepot. "These URLs help their official pages rise to the top of search engine results when users search for a brand and 'Facebook,'" note Parrish.
The majority of the pages Forrester evaluated fostered a "conversational environment" by varying the types and topics of their posts. Brands are successfully capturing their fans' attention by posting frequently.
Only 13% of the brands Forrester researched don't update their status or post any content, and that's including the two pages with the smallest number of fans in our WebTrack. Of the 87% that do update their pages, more than half were updated at least once a day. Pages that were updated twice a day or more averaged more than four times as many fans as pages that were updated just once a day, suggesting that more posts leads to more "likes."
Other successful strategies for capturing consumers' attention include posting video and other rich-content types; posting on a variety of topics; allowing fan-initiated interaction; asking direct questions to fans; and encouraging fan-to-fan conversations.
Also of note, only 56% of the pages Forrester analyzed are prominently promoted on the companies' main Web sites. Adidas, the company with the largest fan base of all the pages Forrester evaluated, promotes the Adidas Originals fan page inside the global navigation of its Web site.