Using social media research to mobilise your Facebook fans
Many organisations are sitting on a huge resource, uncertain of how much it is actually worth or how to go about monetising that value. We are talking about the legions of Facebook fans that many companies attract, but are then unsure how to maximise their potential.
How much is a “fan” worth? How much more likely are customers going to become brand advocates if they “share” your content with friends? How many friends do they have? How many of your fans do you share with competitive Facebook fan pages? How much more likely is a fan to repeat purchase than an offline customer?
If you cannot measure or put a value on some of these questions, then it’s difficult to assess the bottom line impact of your Facebook strategy, know how much resource to invest in it and how best to utilise the results. The ability to track, manage and interact with a high volume of comment and opinion is key to successfully leveraging your Facebook presence.
Tackling these issues is not as difficult as it may seem and many companies we speak with are at different stages in the process of utilising their social media assets. The important thing is to follow a few simple steps and get started! And this is where a little bit of social media research can go a long way in helping you refine your strategy.
What do fans think of your brand? By using active web listening you can quickly aggregate what people are saying about your brand online, based on their comments and opinions and categorise by sentiment. Web listening is a great way to find out who they are, what they think and who the key influencers are.
Also how vocal are your fans? Web listening can help you tackle the issue of ‘ghost’ fans, those who “like” a page but never return or engage. By differentiating your most active fans from the inert ones you begin to get a much clearer picture of which fans are going to be of most benefit.
You are then in a position to delve deeper and find out what their needs are. One highly effective way to maximise the use of your online marketing resource is to conduct or apply an existing needs based segmentation of your fans.
Rather than segmenting by traditional demographic or psychographic segments, a needs based segmentation provides vital information on what your brands need to excel in to provide a better offer than the competition.
This can be based on an existing segmentation which is then applied to Facebook fans – e.g. by inviting them to answer 5-10 profiling questions to pass them through a segmentation algorithm and categorise them accordingly. Or if your fan base is large enough you may want to conduct a separate segmentation just for them. It’s a great way to access and segment niche users by looking at specific product and service needs which can be further broken down in different distinct elements.
It’s not enough to simply know that fans like your brand, by discovering what needs based segments they belong to, you can tailor your offering and provide better value.
In this way needs based segmentation can help define social media strategy and generate further online WOM. By defining key issues around customers and creating a better understanding of their needs it is easier to identify specific online targets and influencer profiles. This becomes a key part in developing your online customer advocacy strategy.
You can find out, for example, which groups include your ambassadors, critics, influencers, and creatives, which is very useful for not only social media campaigns but also conducting further research (see below). Also as you develop your CRM into Social CRM, by tagging usernames and handles you can see who are your prospects, customers, and repeat customers.
Once you have identified and profiled your fans you can invite different segments to take part in private online communities. Recruitment can be carried out directly from Facebook, so for the fan in question it’s a seamless process. Not only will a segmented approach improve advocacy but also by tailoring research to each audience (creative for brainstorming/co-creation, critics for testing, influencers for distribution etc) you will get more “switched-on” participants for better results.
When researching your fans at this level you can start to get an idea of the differences in attitudes, awareness and purchasing behaviour among of fans and compare them to “offline” customers and general consumers. In this way you can build a picture of how much they are worth.
And in many respects – this is just the start of your fan engagement. Through using your private online community, there are a series of research techniques that can be directly accessed via the platform. Bulletin boards, video diaries, chat group discussions, and pulse questions or polls are just some of the research tools we have in our armour, not only to keep communities fresh and engaged and most importantly develop members into brand advocates.
Further research will also tell you who your most active fans are, and uncover how they became fans in the first place. Knowing whether your “organic” fans contribute more than those attracted by giveaways and competitions will inform your Facebook recruitment strategy and the most cost effective trade-off in going for quality or quantity.
Research gathered from these approaches not only creates a huge amount of insight for product development and improvement, but also provides invaluable material for generating compelling customer content that drives further online WOM.
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