Why building your own Facebook could generate more social dollars for your brand
Creating your own online community for your customers could generate a better return for your business than investing in a major campaign on an established social media network, according to a new study.
Research published in the journal Marketing Science revealed that brands with their own active online communities could expect to win up to 20 per cent of what their members spend.
These so-called “social dollars” represent a tangible return on investment for brands that have created customised social networks to give their more engaged customers a forum to interact with one another.
And it seems the interaction between individual members of these brand-specific networks is the key element to success. Rather than access to special offers or more information about particular products or services, people who buy the same stuff want to be able to connect with each other.
More revenue and better data
The researchers used a major retailer that had just launched a new online community as part of their study and they noted that not every brand could expect the same levels of success in terms of increased revenue. But they also pointed out that brand-specific social networks had other benefits, such as the wealth of exclusive customer data they could generate.
“The ability to design the community’s features and observe customer behaviour is preferable to ceding control and insight of a brand’s online social network to a third party like Facebook,” the study’s authors said.
“Of course, such communities will never draw the volume of traffic that sites like Facebook get. However, they are likely to get a much higher quality of traffic driven in no small part by the user-generated content from the community. This traffic leads to better organic searches.”
Finding and engaging with quality content
Finding a way to get your customers to not only encourage one other to spend more money, but also create original content that helps you perform better in search sounds like a marketer’s dream. The higher-ups are likely to be pretty impressed if your customers are doing all your work for you.
And while brands might fall short of that particular marketing nirvana, this study highlights the value of finding ways to connect with and engage your target audience.
Creating useful, relevant and original content and promoting it through search and social media is an excellent way to build relationships with people who are either already buying what you sell or might choose to do so in the future.