This post is the second in a series of primers on various platforms available for life science social media marketing (SMM). The first SMM primer, about the use of Twitter, is available here. Check back for more primers on the use of youtube and other means of life science social media marketing.
Facebook is hands down the largest social media platform in the world, and it wouldn’t be difficult to argue that Facebook is the most pervasive and influential website that has ever existed. According to their own statistics, Facebook has over 750 million active users and each user spends, on average, about 30 minutes per day on Facebook. The rest of the statistics are almost equally staggering. Users install 20 million applications per day. More than 2.5 million websites have integrated with Facebook. According to Alexa, Facebook is the second most popular website in the world (Google is first), reaching an estimated 44.9% of global internet users on any given day. Over 7% of all pageviews occur on facebook.com; this means that, statistically speaking, for every 14 pages that any internet user anywhere views, at least one of those is on facebook.com. This makes facebook the most viewed website in the world and in my opinion is an absolutely staggering statistic. In the US Facebook is even more pervasive, and a comScore study found that 1 in every 8 minutes spent online is spent on Facebook.
Your customers are on Facebook. Probably a lot of them. In fact, it is very likely that you have more customers that are on Facebook than have ever been to your company’s website. According to our internally compiled data on 400 small life science and analytical laboratory products companies, 31.0% of small life science have a presence on Facebook. In most cases, however, a presence is all it is. There is no engagement. Updates are infrequent and not customer-centric. There is no enticement for customers to like the page, to use the page, to visit the page, or even to view the content that gets posted. That is a heck of a shame, especially since Facebook offers the most versatile social platform available for social media marketing. So what can life science companies do to more effectively utilize Facebook for marketing purposes?
Step 1: Build
Build a great and attractive page. Facebook allows you to custom build html-based pages for your Facebook page, and you should leverage those appropriately. There are also great, free tools to feed in content – we recommend checking out Involver for some great free and paid Facebook apps (we are in no way affiliated with Involver; we just like their apps). Always remember that your customers are almost exclusively on facebook to socialize and be entertained and keep that in mind when designing your page and deciding what content to automatically feed into it.
Step 2: Grow
You have a Facebook page – great! Now to get found. Unlike Twitter, which actively promotes users finding other users with similar interests and doesn’t discriminate between personal and corporate accounts, on Facebook your customers mostly have to actively find you in order to connect with you (the exception to this would involve paid advertising on Facebook). This is a hurdle that you need to actively overcome. Some ideas on how to get around this include placing links to your Facebook page on your website and in e-mails, letting your customers know that you’re on Facebook in support and marketing communications, and offering exclusive Facebook-only promotions. If you can create a clear benefit to “like”ing a page, you’ll get a lot more likes.
Step 3: Engage
There’s almost no value to having a huge fan base if you’re not doing anything with it. Provide your fan-customers with information and content that they will be interested in. Facilitate more interaction amongst your fans. Project your expertise on relevant topics. Because of the way that Facebook determines what should appear on a user’s “top news” news feed, which shows users more updates from the pages and people that they engage with most, that a successful engagement strategy will build on its own successes. Always keep in mind that social media marketing is better suited for branding than lead generation, so try to keep branding as the focus and stay away from making too many pitches or overly discussing your products; tactics that could disengage your audience.
Step 4: Maintain
Don’t let your page or your content get stale! If your incentive for getting your customers to like your page gets old and ineffective, replace it. If you aren’t growing the rate at which your customers like, comment on, or share your content, revamp your strategy. As with any branding effort, the payouts are relatively longer term. Giving up before you can reap such benefits is a huge waste. Return-on-investment from SMM efforts can be difficult to measure and because of this managers often are quick to cut SMM if there is any contraction in the marketing budget or if they are evaluating marketing efforts by standard methodologies. If you are in charge of an SMM effort, be prepared to use “soft” measurements, nonstandard metrics and, perhaps, a few reasonable assumptions to make your case for continuation of SMM.
Social media marketing on Facebook is an integral part of any life science social media marketing campaign, and with the right strategy and execution, it can be a highly effective avenue for SMM as well.