Forget A Fan Page — Build a COMMUNITY Page

by Jennifer Spivak | September 12

Don’t let the title fool you. This isn’t another one of those posts written to tout the importance of engagement, interaction, and other fancy buzzwords on your brand’s Facebook page. No, we’re actually talking about the creation of something different — a community page that is aligned with, but isn’t about, your company, and acts as a legitimate resource for members of your target audience.

A prime example is an account we’ve been working on for the past several months. Not only is it fun to manage, but its actually one of our most successful campaigns to date. A client of ours that delivers certification exams to IT professionals came to us with a challenge: how can we generate significant awareness of the connection between being certified and getting a better job/raise/etc. among technology pros?

We’re consumers ourselves, so the first idea we crossed off the list was communicating this message via a branded account. Of course this company is going to insist that certifications are worthwhile, so having this idea come from the brand would not be perceived as very credible. But if the message came from other IT pros who are already certified and are reaping the benefits, others would be more willing to believe the message is true.

To facilitate this kind of conversation among the client’s target audience, we built a Facebook community page simply called “IT Certifications.” We ran ads targeting users who were likely already certified, as well as users who were probably early on in their IT career. We didn’t mention the client. By positioning the page as a community for IT pros to connect with each other, users didn’t view the page as a marketing vehicle, but rather a legitimate resource. Currently the page has just under 10,000 fans, and users are incredibly engaged.

This example can be translated into many different industries. Does your brand provide accountant services to small businesses? Create a community page for small business owners. Sell products for cats and dogs? Build a page for people who love their pets. A local coffee shop? Design a Facebook destination for people who live in the surrounding area.

 

There are some important rules to remember when undertaking this effort on your own, i.e, if you don’t contact us to do it for you 😉

1. Give your page a generic title. Going along with the examples above, you might name your page “Small Business Tax Discussions,” “Why I Love My Pet,” and “Cool Stuff in [insert neighborhood].” The most important thing to avoid is putting your company’s name in the title.

2. Transparency in social media is important, so although you shouldn’t list your company as the page’s title, you should include it somewhere on the page. A good idea is to include “Sponsored by [your company]” somewhere in the “About” section.

3. If you name your page something generic but still post like a brand, you won’t be fooling anyone. To execute a community page properly, you have to truly to commit to being a resource for your target audience — even if it doesn’t translate into sales right away. This means limiting posts about your brand to once a week at most, and posting interesting and valuable content from third party sources.

The last thing to keep in mind is to have an ultimate goal for the page. Building a large community of target audience members is great, but as with all marketing efforts, it needs to have some sort of impact on your bottom line. Let’s go back to the local coffee shop example. They obviously want to get more people in the door, buying their coffee. So once they build up their community – let’s say they grow their page to 1,000 people who live within 5 miles of their store – they can start leveraging it to promote a weekly discount (which they’ll only post about once a week!) that’s exclusively available to fans. And because users are likely more engaged on this community page than they would be if it were a branded account, they are more likely to see the post, feel like it is a valuable offering -not an ad-, and actually go ahead and redeem the promotion

Jennifer Spivak
About the author

Jennifer Spivak

Jennifer handles marketing activities for Social Fulcrum, and manages the research, strategy, and implementation of client campaigns. Jennifer brings a wealth of experience to our team, having managed public relations outreach and social media outreach for Fortune 500 companies. Jennifer loves coffee, wine, cats, and funny things on the internet.