Going Beyond The Facebook Like Land Grab

Extole Chief Revenue Officer Greg Brown offers his take on how to reap a return on investment in Facebook likes.

Late last month, Facebook’s Vice President of Global Ad Sales Carolyn Everson, announced that brands generate over 50 million likes each day.

This is great news… but does it translate into a return on investment? How can a brand make the most of its likes?

In terms of ROI, there is hard evidence that likes are financially important to brands. A study by Facebook ad network TBG Digital analyzing 4.1 billion Facebook ad impressions for 13 different brands noted that advertisements targeted to fans versus other targeting criteria led to a 15 percent reduction in costs to acquire a purchase, and a 44 percent reduction in costs to acquire a registration.

But, the picture isn’t all rosy as the value from acquiring Facebook fans may have diminishing returns. On average, under 10 percent of a brand’s fans see any given post on a page. As the number of pages that consumers like grows, exposure to a specific brand’s content is likely to decrease.

After all, consumers only have so much mind share. And Facebook’s EdgeRank technology actually filters what posts ultimately display in a given user’s feed.

So, it’s up to a brand to rise above this inevitable like saturation by connecting with its customers in creative and valuable ways. And on an ongoing basis. Here are a few tips.

Speak Your Fans’ Language

Facebook provides a rich new way to gain insights into your brand advocates. Let’s see how this plays out.

Our customer Motorcycle Superstore is the leading online resource for motorcycle parts, accessories and apparel. MCSS wanted to use its Facebook fans to both acquire new customers and increase revenue.

As a result, MCSS implemented a sweepstakes that rewarded its existing customers for recommending the page. The key was the reward: by promoting prizes for off-road biking, the campaign was meaningful to MCSS’s target market.

The proof is in the results: from June 2010 through January 2011, Motorcycle Superstore’s fans doubled to 107,000. Since the company boosted its Facebook fan base, daily posts on the retailer’s wall increased 25 percent to 30 percent, with corresponding increases in e-commerce traffic as well. Sales on the social network grew about 20 percent over the same time period.

In another case, an emerging health and beauty company was able to parse out which pages their fans liked the most (apart from their page) and use this information to inform their advertising and business development targets.

Concretely put: if a majority of your fans like Starbucks, you’ll likely get a lot of traction by targeting your ads and distribution and promotional partnerships in that direction. And because preferences change, you need to stay on top of your fans’ affinities to always awaken them to relevant ways to engage with your brand.

Use Game Mechanics

It’s hard to avoid mention of game mechanics these days and for good reason: They work! Direct2Drive, an online distributor of Mac and PC games, wanted to leverage its Facebook fans to broaden its brand reach, create better word-of-mouth recommendations, and generate new sales.

To accomplish this, D2D worked with us on a group buy which could only be unlocked if enough fans liked the deal. This encouraged fans wanting the offer to share it with their friends; it spread like crazy: in just six hours, the page got 500 new likes to the page, wildly exceeding their original goal.

In this case, the gamefication elements of a compelling end-goal with a time restriction challenge made the results pop.

Leverage Partnerships

Don’t be afraid to seek favors: More often than not, they are a win-win proposition. One e-commerce company had the foresight to use Facebook as a key tool to launch its new web-based health and beauty service. Because they are new to the scene, the vendor partnered with the illustrious Dr. Oz to drive traffic to the Facebook page.

They executed a six-week sweepstakes offering a free trip to attend the “Dr. Oz Show” — which was boosted in part by some posts by Dr. Oz himself,who boasts over 1.2 million fans on his Facebook page. This garnered 15,000 new Facebook fans, 10,000 of whom opted into their email list to receive future marketing opportunities.

This company also partnered with L’Oreal for a second prize (a $300 gift bag) and L’Oreal won too: 10,000 entrants also provided their email addresses for an opt-in list.

These are just a few examples of how companies are turning likes into loyalty and value. We’d love to hear what you are doing to go beyond the like land grab: please share your experiences in the comments section.

Guest writer Greg Brown is chief revenue officer of Extole.