How Can Brands Build Loyalty Through Facebook?

By Justin Lafferty 

Subway has a pretty tasty deal with CityVille players. Those who play the popular Facebook game can build a Subway restaurant into their city, in return, Subway gives the player a coupon to be redeemed in-store. When the coupon is used, the player then gets a code for CityVille bonuses. An expert panel discussed this and other ways that brands can build loyalty with fans through Facebook in one of the final events of the AllFacebook Marketing Conference in New York.

Even if you don’t have the budget of a major brand like Subway, there are still ways to win the hearts (and wallets) of fans.

Plink is an application that allows users to build rewards as they shop and dine at partner businesses. While some users just try to game the system to earn rewards, Co-Founder Peter Vogel told conference attendees that many actually build a relationship with brands. He recommended small business to consider offering rewards for engagement, even if it’s just a $5 gift card to Starbucks or Facebook:

What we want is our users to have the experience of having that reward. … The more and more places we get, they’ll become more and more loyal. You allow those gamers to take advantage a little bit, but hopefully they build trust as they’re doing it. … Give customers a choice of rewards. Almost everyone’s going to like Starbucks or iTunes or Home Depot or Facebook. The angle is including Facebook as one of the options.

How can you build a relationship with Facebook fans? Find out which ones are willing to share and talk about the brand. Richard Jones, the CEO of EngageSciences said that 5 percent of a Facebook fanbase is willing to be a brand advocate. Find out who makes up this 5 percent and build a relationship with them.

Chris Dessi, the CEO of Silverback Social, also noted that brands shouldn’t be afraid to be human. While you may be an entity, you’re still comprised of real people and your company has a history. Utilize the life events feature of timeline, adding things to help people learn more about your company, such as the day it was launched and important milestones along the way — much like you’d do on your personal Facebook page with birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries.

People want to se a little more humanity about your business and that’s where I’d push anyone I’m working with toward.

There was also much discussion about ways that brands can reach out, through creative posts and apps. The panelists told attendees to not limit themselves to one type of avenue for engagement, but to mix it up and try different things.

Jones talked about how understanding what fans want and who they are will be key for Facebook marketing in the future:

Who are the people who are just fans? Who are the people who are engaged? Who are the people who are advocates? That level of understanding is where successful brands are going to be in 2013.

Readers: If you manage a Facebook page, how do you build a relationship with your fans?

Thanks for following along or attending the AllFacebook Marketing Conference in New York. Join us in Toronto for our next marketing conference, Jan. 25.