“BUILD YOUR BRAND
With Social Networking”
Fresh Tips: SteathAuto’s Creative & Effective use of Facebook pages
It’s 2012, and practically every business under the sun has a Facebook fan page. It’s very simple to set up a fan page, and posting social networking icons consistently throughout all of your webpages and marketing materials. The problem, however, is actually getting people to “like” your page and get the people talking.
StealthAuto.com owner, Todd Staples, was facing this same issue. They had a large customer base, in a very popular market, but there was still a major disconnect. Todd knew that there was a huge opportunity for him to engage his audience full of passionate BMW and auto modifications enthusiasts. Instead of continuously trying to get people to engage in discussion on the StealthAuto fan page, he decided to think outside the box.
SteathAuto created a more general page: BMW Modifications. An online community that encourages BMW owners a forum to discuss their modifications, post photos, ask questions, and help each other to make their cars cooler. It seems very simple, but according to Todd, the effects have been very valuable to the StealthAuto brand.
As of January 1, 2012, here were the statistics for both pages:
Stealth Auto- 948 page likes.
BMW Modifications- 5,347 page likes.
Todd Staples recently stopped by the FreshQuarters and gave us his perspectives on the major disconnect between social networking and business owners.
FreshRankings: What struggles were you experiencing with your Facebook fan page that inspired you to make a more general page for BMW Modifications?
Todd Staples: In regards to sparking the interest of people in your marketplace on social networks, they care about themselves, and the other people who they are connecting with. The promotions that we tried for StealthAuto on social networks didn’t work in regards to creating a bond with the customers.
We had to take a step back and ask ourselves, ‘what do the customers in our market actually want to talk about?’ The answer is simple: people want to talk about themselves. People love talking about their OWN modifications, and express themselves to other BMW enthusiasts. If you’re talking to people about what they like, and what they are interested in, that’s when you get real people sharing, liking, and commenting on your pages.
When we were focusing on promoting the StealthAuto page, it was just another company trying to push themselves on others in a non-organic way.
If you were walking past a BMW dealership, and saw a brand new, top of the line BMW sitting in the show room, you would be excited to tell your friends about the car you saw at the dealership. You wouldn’t be excited about the dealership itself. People gravitate towards brands, products and people. Not businesses. The reality is, people are not on Facebook to buy stuff, and they’re not there to work. They’re there to express themselves.
The more you’re able to entertain people and get them talking about themselves, the better.
FreshRankings: What are the biggest effects that you have seen from creating a more general page to engage your market?
Todd Staples: As with all social media, it can be difficult to measure it. It’s not a “dollars-in, dollars-out” situation. We did promotions to generate a buzz for the first 1000 or so “likes,” and the page generated organic popularity by itself since then. Facebook is a brand-building opportunity. In this case, it’s not really about leads and sales, or finances. The effect it has is not necessarily measurable by analytics, but it allows us to be a more well-rounded brand and feel like we’re adding value to the community that we are a part of. The long-term value of a customer is about creating and maintaining relationships, and this has been great way for us to do that.
FreshRankings: Now that your BMW Modifications page is pretty popular, what strategies have you used to leverage that community to promote Stealth Auto to those people?
Todd Staples: StealthAuto is the “sponsor” of the BMW Modifications page allowing us to keep it at arms-distance. BMW modifications fans are very active online and on social networks. Every once in a while we will feature an “offer from the sponsor” so that if we want to give offers from other companies we can do that. It allows for more variety and keeping it “fresh”. If StealthAuto has a deal going, we’ll post it on the page, but the main focus is to be helpful with people who want to modify their BMW’s. It allows us to give an “I’ve got a guy” mentality for people engaging in our content on the web.
FreshRankings: What advice would you give to other business owners to better engage their audience using Facebook fan pages?
Todd Staples: You’ve got to remember to have some fun with the social networks. Your market or brand may dictate that you must keep a very clean image with a highly professional website. Social networks give you a chance to show the more fun, human side to your company. Even if you’re representing a big corporation, that organization is still made up of people that have interesting stories and interesting things going on in their lives. An interesting or funny story about someone who works with you that people can connect with will provide just as much, if not more value than the sale or promotion on a product in the social network setting.
- Consider what your market truly wants. Keeping in mind that they want to talk about themselves that will get them engaged and excited?
- Create an online community on a popular social networking site where members of your marketplace are already interactive. Make it broad enough to appeal to all different types of people in your audience.
- Have your business “sponsor” the page and use the community to cross-promote yourself in a casual way without being too “in-your-face” or pushy to the members.
- Build your brand by gaining the trust of your audience. Trickle out valuable and fresh information to members of the community to develop trust with them. Let your guard down a bit, and give your business a “real-person” feel that customers can truly connect with on a more personal level.