How One Small Business Gains Product Insight Through Facebook Apps

Marketers buy Facebook ads for awareness. That’s what 49% of AdAge subscribers said in a joint survey by the publication and Citigroup.

“Asked to identify their primary goal in Facebook ads, 45.9% of respondents put building awareness and sentiment for their brands at the top,” AdAge wrote today.

“Driving traffic to brand websites was the second most-cited goal, with 17.6% of respondents saying it is their most important objective, followed by building fans or likes, staying in touch with customers, generating sales leads and social commerce.”

The same article cites eMarketer analyst, Debra Aho Williamson who points out that brands who invested in building up their fan base in 2011 now have to figure out what to do with them.

So what to do with them? Marketers should focus on driving engagement on Facebook.  As Lee Odden wrote in his book Optimize, “Engage with your community, and ideas will come out of those interactions. Look for common questions, misinformation to be clarified and unique stories to share.”

A case in point is Sanuk (Twitter), which makes (really) creative footwear, and uses North Social Facebook Apps (a Vocus service) to drive engagement.  Furthermore, by engaging and asking questions, the company is gaining really valuable customer insight.  An interview in ZDNet, titled Small shoe e-tailer builds database through Facebook app, features this example:

Sanuk, based in Irvine, Calif., is using its Facebook company page, which has more than 113,000 fans, to help build its customer community. It has built that fan base entirely through organic means, aka no advertising.

An ongoing example of how Sanuk has pulled this off is its “Summer Mystery Box Sweepstakes.” There’s nothing all that special or expensive about the sweepstakes: the company is using swag that has showed up in its office as giveaways for the winners, Gross said. Fans enter by answering questions related to the Sanuk brand or products. So, for example, Sanuk can find out why certain shoes sell while others languish.

The fact that Sanuk’s fan group is organic is meaningful.  The company told me in a phone conversation that one post the company made to Facebook had a visibility rate of nearly 30% – or about double the average visibility for most pages, according to TechCrunch.

Of those views, about 25,000 were actual fans while another 4,000 or so were a result of social shares –where a Facebook friend sees a post that another user “likes.”  Personally, I find this pretty amazing and indicative of a highly engaged fan base.   That’s the purpose behind their use of the Facebook apps:  to keep fans engaged.

Want a free trial of the Facebook apps suite that Sanuk is using? Click here!

To be clear, I’m not suggesting Facebook apps are better than Facebook ads, although AdAge also ran a separate article on the same survey, which found that: “Nearly 86% of those surveyed say they currently use Facebook as a marketing tactic. Only 55%, however, say they currently advertise on Facebook, and nearly 88% said they would implement Facebook content without advertising at all.”

‘Which is better’ has long been the wrong question. A better question is how we as marketers can use them together. The answer to that question is central to engagement.

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