On an icy night in 2003, a Harvard undergrad and programming geek sits down at his computer and spiritedly starts working on a new idea. Even Mark Zuckerberg would not have imagined that his fury of blogging and programming will become Viagra of communication in a few years time. That serendipitous invention is Facebook which has upset not only the styles of social networking but has also changed the way businesses do their marketing.

Marketing is no more a carte blanche of companies with heavy budgets. Facebook has leveled the playing field and has become an ‘equal opportunity’ marketing communication tool for giants as well as for start-ups. From global brands like Pepsi and Victoria’s Secrets to local brands like Pakola and Jucina have got connected with their consumers on Facebook. You run a marketing campaign on print or electronic media and wait for months to get feedback. While Culligan Pakistan puts a message on their business page at Facebook, the feedback is instant. So companies are saving their time and money on getting real-time and honest consumer insights.

Pakistan is on-board for global craze of using Facebook for social networking as well as for brand communication. Having active users of around 3 million, Pakistan is the 30th top most country in the world with regard to Facebook usage. The following table shows how Facebook has engulfed the globe from Sweden to Saudi Arabia and from Argentina to India.

Facebook is slowly eating the web. Did you notice the latest shift in the trend? Instead of companies posting their URLs on television commercials, they are asking their followers to join them on Facebook. The most common and quickest way for leveraging the power of facebook to get sales leads and communicate with consumers is creating a business page (or fan page as it used to be called). Once the business page is ready, you go for 1) building your community 2) engaging them creatively and 3) subtly prompting them to take action the way you want them to do.

World’s top brands have their fans in millions. Rome was not built in a day, as the saying goes. So you need time to build your online community. Brands attract people to join their fan pages through banner advertising on Facebook and referral system. Coca-Cola puts one message on their business page with a reach of more than 20 million people, all that at no cost!

Global Brands on Facebook
Red Bull
Converse All Star
Windows Live Messenger
Victoria’s Secret Pink

As your online community starts building up, brands engage them in discussions, idea generation, games, quizzes and competitions. The objective is to make your brand Top of Mind. The era of one way of brand communication has gone with the winds. It is an era of brand engagement where your fans shout at you and you have to listen.

The engagement of people through Facebook is evolutionary process. They join the page, start liking the activities, get engaged and then refer their friends and become advocate of brand.
One of the lethal mistakes brands make on Facebook is that when they try to sell. Facebook is not used to ‘push’ your product rather it is a tool to create ‘pull’ on the product through subtle communication. Fans will act the way you want them but they should not realize that they are being sold to. That is the trick brand managers should learn to effectively use Facebook.

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  • Ali Raza Panjwani

    Great thanks for sharing

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