Facebook Fans; More Than Just Customers ?

Facebook Business Pages are a big success story.

Bright minds, using the Social Media tool box, have once again created  a way of connecting with people in a fresh and friendly way.

You set up a page for your product, shop or service and invite ‘fans’ to connect with you. Once they have granted you this valuable permission, you can pass on useful tips, information and offers, direct to their Facebook Profile page.

But the problem is, some business people don’t like the idea of being one another’s fans and this is something I want to look at because being a fan seems quite odd in this context.

The  Facebook fan concept came about because  music fans wanted to connect with their heroes. Rather than have thousands of strangers piling onto their home page, musicians and actors set up  Fan pages to share information about TV appearances, new releases, tour dates etc

But the relationship is complex.

The fan is, on the one hand, part of the inner circle; they get information first and other privileges that make them special. This turns them into advocates for the band/brand and they spread the word virally. But they are also customers who buy tickets, albums and merchandise.

Now apply that concept to a business and you have a very powerful sales tool. Your ‘fans’ are both your customers and your advocates.

Treat them well by giving them some genuinely special deals or inside information and they will reward you by spreading the word.

I don’t like to bring it back to Lady Gaga, but she always thanks her fans before anyone else. She knows that her fan base is her bottom line, everything else is icing on the cake.

Seth Godin wrote a really interesting post in which he deplored the lengths marketers sometimes stoop to, to get people to pay their product attention. Instead, he said, you need to stop the drive-by sensationalism and build a genuine network of ;

‘fans that will spread the word, fans who will return tomorrow.’

This seems to me to be at the heart of why business pages have kept hold of the fan concept. It describes a fresh way of talking to people. It highlights the fact that the customer has chosen you and hopefully through your exclusive content, offers and deals you will reward them for their choice.

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