This article highlights nine companies (big and small) that have transformed their Facebook presence by implementing innovative Facebook marketing practices.
You're guaranteed to find inspiration for your Facebook marketing efforts here.
These tactics will work for just about any business—large or small, B2B or B2C. So let's dig in!
#1: Cheese & Burger Society
The Cheese & Burger Society is sponsored by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. This page is an innovative way to promote Wisconsin cheese by talking about something many people love—burgers and grilling.
One savvy practice introduced here is fan gating. Fan gating, also known as “like gating,” is where you require visitors to become a fan of your page to gain access to special content, discounts or contests.
To increase engagement, Cheese & Burger Society created a Send to a Friend app, allowing fans to send a cheeseburger to their friends. This is fun, easy and promotes viral visibility.
The Cheese & Burger Society also encourages fans to post pictures. Photos and videos get a better EdgeRank (Facebook's algorithm for determining what shows up on your fans' news feeds) and people love to share photos.
IdeaPaint is a B2B company that sells a specialty paint that converts walls and other spaces into a dry-erase writing surface, eliminating the need for hanging white boards and opening up creative space.
In keeping with their creative purpose and mission, IdeaPaint makes innovative use of their welcome tab by creating hot spots with links to their social sites. This promotes interactivity. The exploratory user will also find a link for a coupon.
A key to building long-term customer loyalty is to give your customers a good first experience with your product or service. IdeaPaint does this by providing detailed videos on their Facebook page on how to install and use their product.
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IdeaPaint integrates several social components in their Facebook videos. In addition to the Like button, they use the Send button, which enables you to directly send the link to your friends. The Facebook comment section allows people to make comments that will show up on their wall.
Another smart tactic employed by IdeaPaint is their use of NetworkedBlogs to automatically pull their blog posts to a dedicated tab. Additionally, they manually add their posts to their wall. As explained by Mari Smith, this will enhance your news feed. (Get a free class here from Mari on Facebook News Feed Optimization. See the yellow box.)
#3: American Express Open Forum
American Express has created a forum just for small business owners and leaders. Through a strategic partnership with Facebook, they created a massive contest for small businesses that generated lots of interest and increased their fan base. Note the importance of having a valuable prize ($20,000).
A key to creating ongoing engagement on your wall is to use variety in your posts. Notice how Amex uses questions, quotes and articles to engage their fans. It's also important to use shorter posts. Buddy Media found that posts with 80 characters or fewer get 27% greater engagement than longer posts.
American Express also cleverly integrated their rewards program so people can redeem points for Facebook ads. Maybe you can't leverage a deal with Facebook, but perhaps this kind of rewards incentive might get you thinking about partnership opportunities you've been overlooking.
Amex features their authors and articles through some savvy Facebook integration. This requires special programming, but gives contributors the notoriety they deserve.
#4: Banez Insurance Agency
Banez Insurance Agency is a local Farmers Insurance agency in Stockton, California. This small business is doing a number of things smart marketers should study.
Ron Banez is the owner of this insurance agency. He makes an immediate impression on his welcome page by doing two things: 1) Making a charitable donation for every Like and 2) using a video.
A few things to notice on his wall: First, observe how Ron has taken advantage of the photo strip by creating 5 interchangeable photos that reinforce his core messaging. Here's a helpful article on optimizing your photo strip.
Next, observe how Ron incorporated his photo in his profile image, enabling him to use his headshot as his avatar when interacting on his Facebook wall. In a relationship-based business like insurance, it's important for people to see you're a person.
Additionally, see how the profile image points you toward the links below it. This subtle guidance will keep visitors on your page longer, increasing the likelihood they will engage with you as a fan.
Finally, this page makes a great use of the tabs. Through the tabs you can get a quote, learn about insurance products and enter a contest.
PETCO is a national pet supply store. They have masterfully integrated their store on Facebook, allowing greater social engagement. See how it allows fans to tell their friends which products they like, even as they shop.
NOTE: Mari Smith recommends TabJuice as a great service for small businesses wanting to set up a store on Facebook.
Everyone wants fan engagement, but few companies tell their audience the rules of engagement. PETCO does it in a friendly, but direct, manner.
As an example of fan gating, PETCO shows you the benefits of becoming a fan: access to coupons, news and Facebook-only contests.
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#6: Red Bull
Red Bull is a popular energy drink that has built a very strong fan base. Let's study some of their smart practices.
Upon your first visit to their page, you can't avoid their strong, but fun, call to action. If their power of suggestion isn't enough, they also provide a subtle hint as to what's waiting for you when you become a fan (notice the grayed-out videos). This is a powerful alternative to PETCO's approach of listing the benefits. Determine which approach makes more sense for your business.
The more you can get fans returning to your page and lingering, the greater the likelihood they'll tell their friends about you and eventually choose your products and services.
Red Bull developed a series of games and a TV channel for this very reason. While you may not have the budget to hire game developers or start your own TV channel, this might inspire some creative thinking on how to keep fans returning to your page.
Depending on your brand, it might be valuable to find ways to meet your fans in person. The Events tab can be a powerful way to let your fans know where to find you. Red Bull makes a great use of this.
Look at a couple of things about Red Bull's tabs. They have creatively integrated their logo on their iFrame tabs. However, the Events tab gets lost due to the number of tabs they have. This highlights an important lesson: think carefully about the order of your tabs.
#7: Toll Booth Saddle Shop
Toll Booth Saddle Shop is a local horse supply shop in Mt. Holly, NJ (suburb of Philadelphia). This small business has built a loyal following by utilizing several smart Facebook strategies.
On their welcome page, they provide a clear overview of why a fan would want to Like their page and keep returning. Make sure to put your URL in the About section. As a physical business, you can create a Facebook Places page by merely including your address in your profile, thus allowing for check-ins.
Toll Booth's store experience is highly social, allowing customers to tell their friends about their favorite items. Additionally, they provide an added benefit for following their page: a 10% discount automatically deducted when you shop in their Facebook store. That's some easy money!
On Toll Booth's welcome page they also encourage you to sign up for their mailing list, telling you why you might want to do that. They have made it easy by using an iFrame app that links their list with Constant Contact.
Toll Booth Saddle Shop keeps their page fun by incorporating a humorous series of horse videos each week. This is a great strategy to keep the interest of young and old customers alike. Many parents prefer shopping in places where their children enjoy themselves.
Threadless is a community-based online t-shirt company. They invite artists to create t-shirt designs and then sell the ones selected by fans. As you can imagine, their fans are very engaged (as noted by every post having comments).
A design-based company should utilize their graphic capabilities to keep their site interesting. Threadless does this by regularly changing their photo strip images and rotating various profile images.
Threadless has found ways to segment their audience by interest and location. To differentiate interest groupings, they have developed separate pages for things like Kids and Design. Threadless has done an amazing job of taking their community off the Internet to communities around the globe through meetups.
Threadless sells most of their products online, so it's vital to have compelling photos. But they establish their brand as “by the people for the people” by using real people as their models and having fun.
One of Threadless' trademarks is their customer involvement in the design and selection process of their business.
Many businesses could benefit from these principles by running contests or challenges where you invite your customers to develop a new product, process or concept. Then have your fans vote on their favorites.
Skittles is a colorful candy company that uses Facebook to reinforce their fun-loving, wacky culture.
On their welcome page they provide several opportunities to further engage their brand. They offer social buttons, links to memorable ads and the chance to “Experience the Rainbow” (a link back to their website). Additionally, they have a rotating “fan of the week,” who happens to be a comedian showing up in a variety of fun settings.
Skittles also has a set of guidelines that are short, clear and fun.
Finally, Skittles has developed a unique voice for their wall posts. They always speak in the first person. The posts are personal, playful and creative. Fans are encouraged to engage with each other directly.
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What do you think about these Facebook pages? Have you tried any of these techniques? How did it go? Let us know! Please leave your comments in the box below.
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