How Major Retailers Can Improve the Effectiveness of Their Facebook Pages

According to a social media study released recently by Rosetta, 59% of 100 leading retailers are now using Facebook Pages to market their companies and products.  Some of the retailers included in the survey were Best Buy, Toys “R” Us, Kohl’s, and Wal-Mart.  Inside Facebook recently took a look at some of these pages to gain insights into the social media marketing strategies of these online and offline stores.

Here’s what we found: despite the fact that retailers’ Facebook Pages are informative, it quickly becomes obvious that there is a lot of room for growth.  For starters, the Pages are rather bland, and it is clear that the retailers usually fail to make full use of Facebook’s social capabilities.  Simply put, most of the retailers’ Facebook Pages ignore the bells and whistles that other Pages take advantage of to draw Facebook users in the first place and keep them engaged over time.

It seems like Rosetta agrees.  According to Adam Cohen, a partner at the marketing firm:

It’s important that retailers don’t just slap up a page because everyone is talking about Facebook. An effective Facebook presence requires that you carefully consider what your customers are looking for, what you would like to communicate, and what role a fan page should play in your overall online strategy. If you take all of these into account, it can be effective in building customer loyalty.

The first and most intuitive way to improve the weaknesses of the Facebook retail pages may be to take advantage of all the built in features Facebook makes available through Pages.  The Wal-Mart Page, for example, already has a fan base of more than 8,000 users, but the only utility these users are provided is a discussion board where there can post Wal-Mart related thoughts and questions.  The page could increase its effectiveness by simply adding rich media like commercials and other Wal-Mart related videos.

However, retailers could go further to provide utility to Facebook users by integrating deeper functionality through applications. For example, in the case of Wal-Mart, adding a price comparison tool so users can make sure that they’re getting the low prices that Wal-Mart famously markets itself for.  Even a tool that allows users to browse Wal-Mart goods and share their purchases with friends might be useful.  The Page could be made more interactive by adding a feature that enables integration with other popular services – like perhaps an iPhone application so that Facebook users at a Wal-Mart store can share the purchase of an especially low-priced sale item with their Facebook friends as soon as they find it.

By implementing some of these changes, these retailers will not only improve the presence of their brands on Facebook, but also make their Pages more relevant. Once retailers update their Pages to provide the best and most relevant content, their next step should be to promote their Pages both inside Facebook and through other channels.

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