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How to engage customers using Social Media (Facebook)?

November 29, 2011

When I first launched DesiSauda I was not into Facebook or LinkedIn or any other social media except for my email and skype. I used to think that FB is a waste of time and a security risk – I still feel that way to a certain extent. But overtime I started to appreciate social media even though I believe that there is a hype about social media and a bubble around it – it is amazing to see and hear from strangers talk to me about whether my company is using social media to gain traction with customers or not. “Using Social Media” is not the panacea or the zenith of customer attraction and retention for any company – creating FB or twitter account does not constitute using Social Media “effectively”. One of the most important facets a company has to realize is that the customers are coming to your page, account to know more about you or somehow got pulled into the vortex. Now it is you as a company has to utilize this and make most of this interactions so that it leaves a positive impact.

On this topic I want to see how a startup like DesiSauda and how a gazillion dollar company like Pfizer are doing – there is no rhyme or reason for me to pick on Pfizer apart from it being one of the top advertisers in the world. The following statement is from its 2010 Financial report, on page 61

Advertising expenses relating to production costs are expensed as incurred, and the costs of radio time, television time and space in publications are expensed when the related advertising occurs. Advertising expenses totaled approximately $4.0 billion in 2010, $2.9 billion in 2009 and $2.6 billion in 2008. 

To know whether a company is engaging its customers or not FB has come up with a metric called “talking about this”. This number will give you an indication about how many fans of a particular page are interacting with your page in one form or fashion. This post explains what this number is really about – which brings the point that one should not just go by this number only.
When I first visited Pfizer FB page it was more informational rather than anything else. Pfizer has over 40K fans of which around 745 were talking about it roughly constituting less than 2%. Also what I have noticed is the fact that most of the people who are talking about Pfizer are current or ex employees of Pfizer. So now a company with $4B in advertising expenses can do a better job than that.
Now to DesiSauda – we have around 700 fans out of which around 90 are talking about this. Does this mean that we are doing a great job than Pfizer – absolutely no. We have seen the later number going down to single digits and increasing to three digits as well. What we at DesiSauda do is that we constantly try to interact with our customers by asking questions, organizing contests and supplying some interesting information snippets that will enthuse our fan base and interact with our page. Thinking about what clicks with the customers and how to effectively do it is a full time job (again based on my research it seems that one should not post more than 2 to 3 updates per day or else fans would be turned off).
Some questions I am thinking of which are relevant to this discussion
1) How much of an interaction should a company need to have with its customers (via social media)?
2) How to rate relevance of interaction?
3) How to convert the interactions into some meaningful outcomes?
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