The fallacy of Facebook as a brand strategy for furniture retailers.
Commentary by Bill Napier, Social4Retail.com
Ok, I love Facebook and anyone that has “friended me” knows I go there every day. Sometimes I LIKE stuff, sometimes I post stuff, but I NEVER allow any business to post anything on my pages, EVER. My presence on Facebook is so I can see/catch up with long lost friends, school mates, spy on my kids- (yep, I bet you do too) - and generally to find some fun stuff and to be entertained. They have 944,000,000 people on their platform that primarily want to socialize and see what’s happening with their friends, not to get hammered by your ads.
If you think Facebook is a storefront, you are wrong, as many Brand Retailers have found out: Gap, J.C. Penney, Nordstrom and GameStop to name just a few, have all opened and closed shops on Facebook within the past year. This plus the quick demise of their stock to the low 20’s is proving that as a business/advertising model, the ROI is not there. (I predict their stock will go to the low teens this year.)
6 months ago American Express sent me an e-blast that they were giving away 1,000,000 points and I could win if I “LIKED” them on Facebook. I sprained my 2 fingers liking them as fast as I could…Do you know what 1 million points are worth? Tahiti, here I come!
In the next 2 days, my Facebook page was spammed with Amex stuff; vacations, restaurant offers, all sorts of junk I did NOT care about or want to receive, especially 2X a day. So I “hid them” and put them in the “never never” infringe upon me again place.
I see companies out there selling retailers “Apps” for Facebook and other social marketing applications. Some of these are expensive, others on the cheap. Some say they’ll get you “Likes” or get you on a platform. What is a Like? What is it worth? I’ll bet…they really don’t like you at all. A retailer told me at market they spent $8,000 for a Facebook campaign and he loved it. They got 1,200 Likes. I asked, so what did it do for you? I asked this question 3 different ways…the Final Answer? Well we have more friends. So what are they worth? It’s not about being there, it’s about being relevant to the audience based off the platform they are engaging with you on.
For my company, I “bought” friends as an experiment. I spent $100 to get 100 friends in 2 days. Yep, I have 101 friends on the Napier Marketing Group Facebook page and not one of them has ever interacted with me in any meaningful way. I use it to post new marketing updates, but those updates come from me integrating my Twitter or LinkedIn accounts with my Facebook account.
How many friends do you have on your page? 100, 1,000, 10,000? How do you measure LIKES, is this your brand? Really, this is all you have? What good is it, what does it cost and what is your real ROI?
I’ll tell you what Facebook is. It’s “step one” one of many platforms for you to inspire people to take the next “in-bound” marketing step; Step Two. Step two is to move them to your website, assuming you have one and it’s any good, then to engage them and have them sign up for the offers and promotions THEY want, when THEY want them and how THEY want them. The ultimate goal is Step 3…a visit to your store and interactions with your sales people.
BUT, that’s NOT what most retailers are doing. They’re using it as a platform to “blow out sales” post irrelevant stuff like: “Do you know that a sofa is a good place for a nap”….REALLY, I want that posted on my FB page? I don’t care if you think TGIF, or that it’s a beautiful day, or whatever; STOP bugging me with irrelevant stuff or I’ll hide/block you. So much for your 1,200 LIKES, huh?
Facebook is an extension of your brand. It’s a listening platform, it’s a way to handle questions, to learn about and address concerns and problems about your business…instantly, But most importantly, it’s a platform to have some fun with your business with the goal to inspire consumers to want more. What they want to do is to engage with you, after all that’s why they are on the platform in the first place. Here are a few simple ideas
Photo/Video Contests –
Each new like could/must post a photo that people can vote on. It could be an inspirational piece of furniture, a room, an “idea”. (Note: encouraging photo entries to promote their photo to their own list of friends will get you even more likes!)
When you’re at market, have your buyers post new introductions for fans to vote on. (Jake Jabs does this with his buyers.) Consider adding a few twists to this by having your followers post thoughts and comments with you and their friends. Then consider awarding a free item to the person that is most inspiring and gets the most likes, etc.
Consider this old promotion made new with FB: Ugly room/sofa/home makeover.
Create a contest that requires these simple rules that will win the prize(s):
• Must have a genuine need - explained
• Must have humor
• Must have a picture/video
Now the judging begins. The person that gets the most likes/comments, etc. wins the prize(s). The more creative and fun these entries are the more views/likes they will get. Who knows, you may end up to be the next Red House, going viral with over 4,000,000 views: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnOyMSEWNTs
Random Prize Drawings Pulled From all Facebook Likes –
Ask them to post on your wall to be considered for the contest... this encourages - page activity that their friends will also see and hopefully join in. Again, push the humor/video aspect of this. YouTube has 1 Trillion Views; more views than there are planets in the Milky Way. People love short videos!
Special Discount Offers To all Facebook Likes –
Use your page as a communication tool for distributing "Facebook only" promotions, discounts or coupons to drive them to your website to “Sign Up” for specials & Offers for your business. By doing it this way, you won’t be infringing on their “wall”, because they’ll get the promotions via an e-blast that they “signed up for”.
Small Prize to First X# of Facebook Likes
Award everyone something for quickly liking your page (coupons work well for this) Again, you want to drive them to your website to get the offer and to sign up for more.
Giveaways to a charity, preferably a local one that will appeal to people's desire to support that cause - increase your donation level if you reach certain quotas with total likes. Integrate it with your website
BUT, all this is a waste of time if you don’t have a great website, with tons of product, easy navigation and simple ways for consumers to interact with you and your sales people
These are only a few ideas. We have aggregated over 3,000 pages for retailers and brands that want to “get social” on our website: http://www.social4retail.com
About Bill Napier: Bill is a specialist in creating, guiding and deploying successful marketing B2B & B2C solutions integrating traditional marketing strategies with the web and social media. He has worked in the home furnishings industry for over 12 years, as the chief marketing officer for some of the industry's largest manufacturers and creating some of the largest promotions ever launched within the industry. Contact Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org, (612) 217-1297 or www.social4retail.com.
Furniture World Magazine-Business solutions for furniture retailers