Facebook is on target to reach over one billion users this year. For brands, a Facebook page is the window standing between the one billion users and the experience a brand can offer, so it better look inviting and send the right messages about what can be experienced there.
Many brands think that simply creating a Facebook page, sticking a logo on it, and writing a short introduction is enough to connect with an audience. That's wrong. The ways to make your brand page stand out from the crowd are many and diverse. Here are some easy-to-execute tips and tricks for making your brand page a little more enticing to two billion (or so) eyeballs. And some examples of what not to do as well.
Tip: Customize It
An important way to make your brand stand out is to create a custom welcome image that displays messaging to users who have not yet "Liked" your brand.
Don't think your brand needs one? Think again. When a user visits your Facebook page, she may see your wall but that's not enough. A custom welcome image is a necessary form of communication. It's the first connection between your brand and potential new fans who haven't formed a strong opinion about your brand. It informs them about the benefits of "Liking" your page and joining your brand's community.
The more potential fans are educated about why they should "Like" you on Facebook, the higher percentage that will do so. The result is more fans and a bigger presence on Facebook. And, according to our very own Justin Kistner, fans have a seven times greater click-through rate when you target advertising to existing fans versus strangers.
Think of it as packaging. You spend lots of time and money making sure your brand's packaging or image communicates who you are to customers - why wouldn't you do that on your Facebook page?
Let's take a look at the Facebook presence of a brand that's all about beauty, design, and a celebration of amazing aesthetics: Project Runway.
Each week contestants compete to create the best new outfit with limited time, budget, and materials. It's one of the most popular reality shows on TV and also happens to be a favorite for my wife and me. Each week, and amazingly given the circumstances, contestants create unique and (usually) beautiful designs that capture the attention of the audience and judges - while expressing their personal style (and therefore personal brand). Guessing from the premise of the show, you would think that Project Runway would know a little something about projecting a beautiful, captivating brand presence on Facebook. Let's take a look:
This is Project Runway's current welcome image on its Facebook fan page as of Feb. 7, 2012:
The welcome image here doesn't tell me, as a visiting non-fan, anything about the show or the benefits of "Liking" Project Runway and joining the community. In fact, it has links away from the page to other Lifetime shows such as Army Wives, Drop Dead Diva, and Dance Moms. It's easy to tell that this image is copied and pasted across several Lifetime Facebook pages.
Tip: Don't Bounce Your Visitors
Instead of trying to interact with users, Lifetime seems more intent on sending potential fans away from Project Runway's Facebook page. This directly encourages potential fans to navigate away from the Project Runway page - not a very logical approach.
You may also notice that the welcome image includes a logo and links for Project Runway among the other shows. When a user clicks on the Project Runway fan page link it loads the show's fan page, the page you are already on, in another tab. They need Tim Gunn to come in, cast a frown on them, and tell them to, "Make it work!"
Tip: Keep Visitors and Make Fans With Relevant Content
At first glance, aside from having Heidi Klum in the upper left corner, there is nothing particularly unique to the Project Runway brand, show, or recent episodes on the page. Faced with a bunch of irrelevant links and show logos, I bet the Project Runway Facebook page has a very high abandonment rate. What a huge missed opportunity!
The current welcome image does not represent a successful fan engagement strategy. To engage fans, a brand should keep visitors on the page, encourage them to interact with the brand, and attempt to convert them into fans. Providing relevant content is the first step. It must be fresh, specific to the brand, and give the visitor a reason to stick around. The next step is to have visitors interact with the page and share what they've seen.
Below I've mocked up some new and potentially more engaging welcome images that Lifetime and Project Runway could use to greet their fans. The strategic goal of these new greeting images is to increase the number of "Likes" the page receives and to grow the overall Facebook fan count.
Tip: Spell Out the Benefits of "Liking"
Mock-up: New welcome image No. 1
The messaging in this mocked-up welcome image lets fans know why they should "Like" the page by explaining the benefits of becoming a fan: exclusive content, live chatting with other fans during the show, exclusive pictures and videos, and the chance to make the case for their favorite designer. These are great incentives for users to click the "Like" button and become a fan. Don't expect your potential fans to guess why they should join your community - tell them. You'll both be better off.
Also, the contents of this welcome image will register with fans quickly: the show's stars Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn are front and center against a cityscape background that speaks to the fun and glamour of the Project Runway brand. The welcome image's colors contrast sharply with the white background of the Facebook template, helping it to pop off the screen.
Once users become a fan of your brand and are a part of your community, you can encourage them to start engaging with your page by offering different calls to action. This will then increase the overall reach created by your page including the "People Talking About This" metric. Getting users to "Like" your page is just the first step!
Tip: Make the Brand Look Irresistible
Mock-up: New welcome image No. 2
When greeted with the welcome image above, the user will instantly recognize this is Project Runway's Facebook page thanks to making Heidi Klum (looking gorgeous in a white suit with legs longer than most attention spans) the main focus. Hey, if the host of your show is one of the most beautiful women in the world, why wouldn't you?
In this mock-up, this welcome image also uses color to stand out against Facebook's white background. One other great feature is it uses an arrow to direct the user's eye to the "Like" button. Our list of benefits is present as well, this time highlighted with easy-to-see arrows.
Both new welcome images strive to connect with fans of the show and, importantly, very clearly explain why they should Like the Project Runway fan page.
Neglecting your fan page welcome image is a huge missed opportunity for brands. By continuing to improve your welcome messaging, you will be able to grow your fan base and capitalize on the opportunities a large Facebook presence can bring.
Which welcome image do you like best? Which one do you think would best convert users into Facebook fans? The current version, or welcome image No. 1 or No. 2?
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John Boyle has over 15 years of experience in e-commerce and online marketing. As a digital marketing and optimization consultant at Webtrends, he creates online marketing strategies designed to improve website monetization and improve customer experiences. He has worked with such clients as Kimberly Clark, Microsoft, Art.com, and many others.
Prior to joining Webtrends John worked for several e-commerce and lead generation startups that saw extensive growth earning three Puget Sound Business Journal Fastest Growing Private Company Awards and an Inc. Magazine Fastest Growing Private Company Award.
When not working to make the Internet a better place you can find him spending time with his wife, working out at Crossfit or cheering on the Minnesota Twins and Vikings.
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