News, Insights and Highlights from the world of Social Marketing

Why Fans Like Brands

by Marcus Whitney
May 30, 2012 at 11:28 PM

Il like button è morto (lo dice Facebook)

Over the last few months, the feedback from brands on how effective Facebook is for them, and what the ideal Facebook marketing strategy is, has been all over the map. It’s becoming more obvious that Facebook is a utility with unparalleled potential, but rife with challenges and in need of best practices and effective enterprise products to serve brands effectively. For example, there was the shocking pre-Facebook IPO revelation that GM would pull their $10M budget for Facebook Ads, claiming that they don’t work. Then shortly after GM’s news, Ford spoke out (via Twitter) saying that Facebook Ads work well when combined with engaging content and innovation.

How could these two auto industry leaders (both in Detroit) have such different experiences on Facebook? The difference is in the approach, and the understanding of what fans want from brands in Facebook. And we may see this having a surprising effect on the bottom line of brands as Facebook continues to mature and take away market share from more traditional online marketing budgets. Brands have to figure out how to be successful in Facebook, and that starts with understanding why fans Like brands in the first place.

A study published in Forbes in the beginning of the year showed how serious of a problem this lack of understanding is for marketers trying to make Facebook work. The study, conducted by the CMO Council and Lithium, showed that CMOs for brands who were leveraging Facebook, believed that fans wanted:

  • Agreeable content
  • To be heard
  • To track news on the brand

By strong contrast, the fans that were interviewed in the same study, said that the reason that they Liked a brand on Facebook was for:

  • Games, Contests and Promotions
  • To learn about new products
  • To show that I’m a fan

This difference is huge. CMOs could be going for the good stuff on Facebook, and instead they are opting for fluffy content. Think about the data that can be gathered in games, contests and promotions. Think about the value of the feedback on new products from early adopter fans. And frankly, think about what that fan can do for your brands by showing others that they are indeed a fan of yours.

The opportunity for brands on Facebook is for Social Activation, not simply publishing content and holding conversations. Understanding why fans Like brands will go a long way to helping brands to use Facebook effectively, deliver real value to their fans, and grow their customer database at the same time.