Facebook Pages: Where’s the Value?

Simple answer: everywhere.

Musicians, filmmakers, celebrities, politicians, photographers… Facebook pages help add value to their brands by enabling the brand to be a conversation, instead of a presentation.

But just how well is that concept leveraged by business in their communications process? How does a business or brand use Facebook pages to actually carry out their marketing agenda? Should a Facebook page be used solely as a marketing tool? How can marketing departments use them to collect relevant data and metrics?

The primary functions of the marketing department or team are to communicate value propositions to customers, support the sales team with communications/advertising and brand materials, and gather data on performance which will be used to constantly tweak all of the related processes. That’s what marketing does. Talking directly to customers about products or services outside of an institutionalized data-gathering function is not typically a part of the marketing team’s thing (except for small business and kick-ass startups, hence my love for them).

Who communicates with customers on a daily basis? Tech support. Customer service. Sales reps. Basically, anyone on the sales team/department. Who tends to manage a company’s Facebook page (or other social asset)? The marketing department/team. It seems like a natural fit, right? I mean, social media is for advertising, right?

I respectfully suggest to you, the business world, that this is an approach destined to make underutilization the norm. Yes, social media platforms can be a great part of advertising and marketing… but the real value is in conversations. Think about what social media platforms were designed to do: enhance communication among friends, family, and even strangers by leveraging a comfortably efficient medium. You can drop mom or dad a message quickly while away at college, or update your long-lost bff from grade school on your summer vacation plans without the inherent time-lag involved in the postal service. Want to send Aunt Martha some pictures from your three year-old’s birthday party? Drop them on her Facebook wall. Sharing meaningful content in a personalized context is incredibly easy- as is carrying on conversations in real time or near real time with chat functions.

It seems to me that your customers would benefit a lot more if the sales team (specifically, customer service) had control of the company’s Facebook page (and other social media assets). Does this mean that marketing should be shut out in the cold?¬†Of course not. But, someone has to hold the reins. Sales and Marketing teams work closely by necessity anyway (at least in companies that aren’t monolithic and dusty), and social media is just another area where both teams can receive shared value from access.

Better yet, experiment with merging your sales and marketing teams if they’re separate. Marketing would benefit from increased awareness of real day-to-day issues in the sales cycle and conversion funnel, and sales would benefit from being plugged more tightly into the big picture. After all, marketers dream… salespeople do.

Marketers, I have a suggestion for your social media strategy. Don’t use it to crowdsource for advertising ideas (like Clorox recently did with GreenWorks and the stay-at-home-new-mom demographic), that’s just plain lazy- and a conceptual problem. If you ask people what they want to hear and then give it to them, you’re not communicating anything new or exciting… you might as well hold up a mirror with a little note scrawled on a cocktail napkin underneath that says ‘keep on buying me because you already do!’

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