This past week, Ogilvy PR of Washington DC had the treat of hosting a discussion with DC-based Facebook representatives Adam Connor and Andrew Noyes. Among the topics discussed was the new Facebook community page feature, which Ogilvy blogged about in April.
Facebook Community Pages 101
For those unfamiliar, a Facebook community page is a separate page that groups users around a common interest. Users opt into the page automatically when they list the interest on their profile.
For example, when I click on my interest in “yoga,” I am taken to a Facebook yoga community page. Here, I can see all of my friends who also like yoga. I learn that my friend Erin “really needs some yoga in her life,” and that my favorite yoga teacher is hosting his next rooftop yoga class at the W Hotel. I can also see status updates from people and companies who would not otherwise show up in my newsfeed: yoga studio events, a yoga apparel company’s new product, what yoga DVDs are for sale. I have a whole yoga community at my fingertips, with current and future connections… all in what appears to be an informative, authentic, non-commercial space.
4 Ways Community Pages Boost Brands
Now, there is ample opinion about why brands need to tread slowly with community pages, and how such pages are harmful to brands (see this post by our Global Managing Director, John Bell). Though I would likewise advise brands to proceed with caution, I also see some silver linings to the Facebook community pages. Here are four ways Facebook community pages can boost brands:
1) Attract new brand followers. Think of the Facebook community page as a crowded expo, with a self-selecting base of consumers who are there to see what’s new. Your brand’s page is one among the many booths competing for attention. By posting engaging updates, you can lure users to your “booth.” If users are inspired by your content, they can easily like your page, and know where to find you in the future. Bonus – this grows your online fan base at no added cost to you. In that sense, these pages are more desirable than paid-for ad space.
2) Create more authentic consumer connections. In an ideal world, brands would do the impossible and create real, face-to-face relationships with consumers. In many ways, Facebook is the next best thing to face-to-face interactions, and community pages help further target the people with whom you need to be connecting. That is, because these community pages allow consumers to find your brand based on what it represents, it creates somewhat of a more authentic brand-consumer relationship.
3) Glean Useful Consumer Intelligence. Facebook community pages can offer some useful quantitative insights on consumers. Sticking with my yoga example from earlier, let’s pretend that you are a running apparel company considering expanding into the yoga market. On the yoga community page, you can tell at a glance that there are 500,000 yoga fans, about a third of the amount of proclaimed running fans. This supports your suspicion that the yoga market may be worth your investment (and considering the 400 million+ Facebook users worldwide, this is no sample size at which to sneeze!).
4) Monitor What People Are Saying About Your Brand. By clicking on a community page, you can also monitor what kinds of conversations are occurring around your brand outside of your page… for better or for worse. This can help you learn qualitative information you might not easily find elsewhere about your potential consumers.
Clearly this list is not comprehensive and omits the glaring pitfalls… like the loss of brand control on user-generated brand pages. Merely, I aim to offer an optimistic alternative to some of the fears surrounding the new feature.