By Dan Sullivan published June 26, 2014

How Facebook Fans Can Inform Your Content Marketing Strategies

fingers with faces-social media sayingsFacebook is where the rubber meets the road for brands and their most loyal fans — where authentic brand advocates discuss and share what resonates with them (and what doesn’t) and translate a brand’s story and values into their own words and actions that they share with their friends.

The discussions that fans choose to conduct and share on Facebook — from the merely entertaining to the inspirational — provide plenty of insight that we can use to inform our content marketing strategies, ensure the timeliness and relevance of our content efforts, and help us consistently engage in the communities that have been built around our brands.

Informing content strategy through better listening

It’s easy to get lost amongst the aggregate data Facebook provides on your page and post performance. It’s useful data, but it primarily tells you how your content performed, not why it performed that way. Digging into the “why” means examining your follower base with a few key goals in mind.

Let’s examine three ways brand marketers can draw insights from the ways their fans communicate on Facebook, and apply those insights to content marketing strategy decisions:

facebook page-circular closeup

1. Getting to know your top 20 most influential fans: These are your most frequently engaged fans — the familiar names you see commenting on post after post, week after week.

Unless you’ve got an agency or technology solution that can uncover your top 20, you’ll need to take a look at your monthly activity and manually check which names keep popping up on your Facebook Timeline. Create a log or spreadsheet where you write down these names and a line or two of description about each person. Even if this process must be done manually, the act of doing so is an incredibly useful exercise in how to humanize your fans, understand how frequently they interact with your content, and uncover the customer types and segments that are most likely to engage with your business.

In your research, are you noticing that any of them are talking about being parents or homeowners? Are they self-identified buyers? Sports aficionados? The tags you naturally uncover in the process of looking at their profiles are extremely relevant to your content strategy. Noting these characteristics in your activity log will help you segment customers and gain a better understanding of why certain posts might score well with your existing buyers, whether parents are an important segment of your top fan base, etc. If you find that certain demographics are dominating your top 20, then be sure that at least 20 percent of your posts are targeted to their interests.

white car-ford escort 2. Learning what value your fans are deriving from your brand: Your most committed superfans may love your products, but true engagement usually involves a deeper resonance with what the brand stands for and what it means to them personally. A brand might spend days agonizing over the exact construction of a brand statement, product positioning, or value-add content, but it should pay equal attention to how the community is digesting and manifesting that brand messaging on their own behalf. 

If a fan takes the time to share a post promoting an eBook you just spent weeks creating, take notice of whether they are talking about the overall value it provides or just the fact that it helped them in a particular way. When they post about an eBook you just published, do they enthusiastically broadcast the secondary benefits you aimed to provide, or just mention that it was an interesting read? For example, if you are a food brand that published a recipe guide book, are the majority of your social media fans who share and comment on the eBook mentioning the benefits of the gluten-free or low-fat recipes included — even if you didn’t explicitly name those categories? If so, your brand may want to consider adjusting its content marketing strategy to speak more directly to those with these special dietary needs or to create specific categories for those types of recipes in future eBooks and posts.

Major car companies serve as another great example of how to gather strategic insights from a brand’s Facebook page. A brand like Ford might have incredibly well-constructed and well-considered campaign messaging, but it might be off-base when it comes to understanding how that messaging is being received and shared — and by whom. The launch of a new model targeted toward young parents might play up safety and budget-consciousness, yet Facebook posts and comments might show that parents are more interested in benefits like the small moments of quiet luxury they experience due to the car’s premium features that come standard (like heated seats and great sound insulation), or how its sporty design makes them feel a bit cooler than the rest of the parents at soccer practice.

Content marketers have a tremendous opportunity to perceive how fans personalize the messaging the company releases — what they emphasize, what drives them to advocate for the brand, and what drives their strong favorable reactions.

car on ice-glacier melt3. Examining the interactions of advocates — and rivals — for key talking points: Keeping with the car example, every great car brand has rivals, and very often there’s evidence of these rivalries in the Facebook comments provided by a brand’s fans — a Chevy fan who tries to poke holes in a Ford advocate’s testimonial, for example. The advocate responds, the rival retorts, and so on. 

These dialogues are useful in that they show you not only how fans are sharing your brand content, but also how that content is being discussed, dissected, challenged, and defended by both your fans and your detractors. While companies like to talk about their social command centers and war rooms where decisions are made, Facebook is really the absolute front line of customer interactions. Remember how Chevy Tahoe detractors used social media to pour out their grievances when given the opportunity? Though the situation was not flattering for the brand, it was a good learning experience that Chevy could have used to start meaningful dialogues with friends and foes alike in its future social media content.

Take a good look at where your advocates are winning in their defense of your brand, and where you have left them wanting for better answers; then, use this to inform the types of messages and materials you create as part of your content marketing strategy.

Of course we know that content is king; but don’t forget that context is also key. Facebook provides brands with an unprecedented opportunity to observe and learn about what makes their content relevant to viewers while also serving as a platform from which to extend content marketing efforts.

This is going to be a breakthrough year for content marketing, and brands with an integrated social media content strategy will lead the pack.

For more insight on leveraging your communities for your content marketing strategies, be sure to check out Michael Silverman’s Capturing Community. 

Cover image via Bigstock

Author: Dan Sullivan

Dan is the founder and CEO of Crowdly, a unique advocate marketing platform that seamlessly integrates with brand Facebook communities. Dan has dedicated his entrepreneurial career to understanding and enhancing brand/consumer relationships, both on and offline. Before Crowdly, Dan was the founder of a TechStars alumni company and leading mobile crowdsourcing platform. Follow Dan on Twitter.

Other posts by Dan Sullivan

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