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Where Marketers Go to Grow

January 27, 2015 // 11:00 AM

9 Brands With Brilliant Facebook Marketing

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There have been a lot of questions about Facebook lately: Are people still using it? Is it on the decline? Can businesses still find it valuable?

With over 1 billion active users, it’s safe to say that Facebook is alive and well.

There are tons of other rising social networks out there, but let’s be honest, Facebook really was the game-changer (sorry Myspace!). While it’s hard to predict the future of Facebook and social media, it remains a major player in social media marketing today.

Facebook appeals to its users because it provides real-time information but with a deeper feel. It may not necessarily break news as fast as Twitter, but when it does it provides greater detail and a platform for discussion.

Facebook takes engagement to a deeper level than other networks can. Since you aren’t limited by character count or to just sharing images, you can really say what you want to say. This key differentiator has kept Facebook as the most widely-used social platform, even as new networks are introduced every day.

With millions of brands on Facebook, how can you make yours to stand out? Below are 9 companies (that you’ve probably all heard of) that take their Facebook marketing to the next level. An important thing to note is that the strategies used by these major players can be used by any company out there. You don’t have to be Nike or Microsoft to be successful.

1) Nike

Number of Likes: 22.6 million

Nike is arguably one of the biggest names out there. They have a marketing budget that a lot of companies can barely begin to fathom. Yet when it comes to their Facebook presence, they don’t over-emphasize the need to buy their products.

Even though Nike is such a household name, they still have competitors. Adidas and Under Armour aren’t just going to sit back and let them maintain the majority of the market share. You would think the competitive nature of the industry would encourage them to step up their promotions.

But they don’t have to. They have established and continue to maintain a strong brand image, which resonates throughout their Facebook page. They have quite possibly the most famous slogan out there, so they grab onto that popularity and incorporate it in their cover photo, photos shared, and through a branded hashtag.

Nike’s Facebook page is a balance of new products, science, charitable initiatives, and encouragement. One way they differentiate themselves from their major competitors is by emphasizing the research and development that goes into every design. Their products are seen as the result of extensive engineering or science experiments, which evoke the idea that these items are cutting-edge and high quality.

Nike

Another effective strategy for Nike is that they have established separate pages for each of their product lines to better target their different markets. From basketball to golf to snowboarding to women’s products, Nike likely has a page that will target your interests. Their ability to manage an “umbrella” account on top of many others and maintain a consistent image is truly remarkable. It speaks to how well they not only know their audience, but what their brand is all about.

2) March of Dimes

Number of Likes: 594,000

Marketing any charitable organization can be tough because there are thousands of organizations out there that need our help. How can you pick and choose one great cause over another?

The March of Dimes takes a unique approach to non-profit marketing by emphasizing the educational aspect of the initiatives they support. Their Facebook page serves as an information powerhouse with everything you need to know about what to expect during your pregnancy. Many of their posts consist of healthy eating and lifestyle tips to provide the nourishment and care babies need before they are born. They also have an app that allows fans to register for a “March for Babies” walk and raise money through Facebook.

March_of_Dimes

The March of Dimes page includes another app called “39 Weeks,” which chronicles the developments occurring during each week of a pregnancy, and fans can share their stories about unexpected complications. Unfortunately, not every pregnancy goes smoothly, and the March of Dimes serves as a great educational and emotional resource to push through.

This strategy has proven to be extremely successful for the March of Dimes, in that the number of registered walkers has increased by 75% and revenue by over 100%. It’s not easy to market a non-profit because you not only want to raise money, but you also want to be sensitive to those who have experienced tragedy. The March of Dimes is a perfect role model of how to balance these things and shed light on important issues facing people all around the world.

3) Taco Bell

Number of Likes: 10.6 million

When you go to Taco Bell’s Facebook page, your experience will be almost identical to their Twitter or Instagram accounts. They have been able to successfully connect social platforms together by using their “Live Más” slogan, the branded hashtag #onlyintheapp, and by sharing images of products. Almost every post has a picture of a Taco Bell menu item, which maximizes awareness and entices people to eat there.

In recent months, Taco Bell skyrocketed its social media presence through the introduction of their new mobile ordering app. They made headlines when they temporarily blacked out their social media profiles to promote it. That’s right; they went silent on social media to promote the app. If you visited their Facebook page during this 24-hour period, you would have been greeted with a completely black profile. This unique approach to promotion proved to be extremely successful because social media was buzzing for days.

Taco_Bell

Taco Bell’s ability to incorporate humor into their social presence has surely aided in their success. Some of their most recent Facebook posts include a petition to add a taco emoji to smartphone keyboards. These types of posts grab a fan’s attention and engage them, and if they showed up in your news feed you’d probably click on them.

Their generally lighthearted nature helps them sell products and get people in their restaurants because they aren’t forceful. And not only is it fun, but it works. DigitalCoCo ranked Taco Bell number one on the Restaurant Social Media Index, beating out competitors like Wendy’s and McDonald’s. So they’re not simply trying to get you to buy tacos on your phone; Taco Bell sets you up for a memorable and enjoyable social experience.

4) TOMS

Number of Likes: 2.9 million

People love to support brands that give back, and TOMS has achieved incredible success through their “one-for-one” strategy. For every pair of shoes or eyeglasses you buy, they will donate a pair to someone in need.

TOMS has branched out in recent months to selling coffee beans as well, but under this same one-for-one premise. For every bag of coffee beans you buy from their website, a week of fresh water will be provided through various water sustainability projects. It’s this desire to help others that has made TOMS a truly iconic brand for the millennial generation.

TOMS

Lots of brands team up with charities to take a “giving back” approach to marketing and sales these days. So why does TOMS stand out from the pack?

I think TOMS has found such success because of their target market: millennials. This is a generation argued to be selfish and greedy, but in reality, maybe they just haven’t been targeted properly up to this point.

TOMS offers products catered to teens and young adults, and they market themselves primarily on social media. What they also do is provide a tangible understanding of how your purchase impacts others. With TOMS, you’re not just making a specific dollar donation to support an organization. You know that when you buy a pair of shoes, someone in need will get a pair too. If you buy coffee, you know that someone will get to drink clean water for an entire week. By adding this tangible element, people may be more inclined to support because they can actually see where their money goes.

This passion translates to their Facebook page seamlessly by featuring a lot of fan-provided content. People share pictures of places their TOMS have been and how they incorporate them into their everyday style. In addition, there are a lot of posts about the charities that they support so you get that continued connection with the people you’re helping every day.

TOMS is a prime example that when millennials are marketed to properly, they do want to make a difference in the world and help others. They have certainly set a precedent for how future companies will target this generation.

5) Nature Valley

Number of Likes: 1.4 million

It seems like one of the biggest challenges due to the prevalence of technology is getting people to actually go outside. We spend most, if not all, of our day inside glued to our computers, smart phones, and TVs.

Nature Valley is trying to change all of that. They’ve successfully utilized their Facebook page to promote getting outside, as well as lightly market their granola bars and snacks as part of a healthy lifestyle. The majority of their posts are pictures of nature, outdoor activities, and exercise tips, rather than just product promotion. They position their marketing in a way that focuses much more on enjoying the outdoors versus just getting some whole grains in your diet.

Their most recent Facebook campaign is around the hashtag #getoutthere, which promotes this philosophy while also linking to technology. Most people probably aren’t going to leave their phone inside all day while they go for a hike or bike ride, and Nature Valley acknowledges that by playing to the consumer’s need to be connected while promoting a healthy lifestyle. They encourage fans to share photos of the activities they do with Nature Valley products in their bag, providing an interactive element while simultaneously marketing their products.

Nature_Valley

In addition to these fan-shared images, Nature Valley has a gallery of breath-taking nature photos from around the world that you can download and use as your Facebook cover photo. They have already been sized to the proper dimensions, so they’re ready to use for your Facebook profile or computer desktop background. It’s another way to keep this “get out there” idea in the consumer’s mind.

Even though Nature Valley’s products are associated with the outdoors, a lot of consumers purchase them for their everyday life. They don’t necessarily have to push this outdoorsy persona to make a sale. But they truly believe in the importance of appreciating nature and getting outside to enjoy it, so that’s how they market themselves. They sell an experience and a lifestyle that would probably make us all a bit happier, healthier, and more relaxed.

6) Microsoft

Number of Likes: 6.2 million

When you’re marketing a new technology to customers, it can be easy to get into a “tech-speak” frame of mind, and that type of language is likely to go over many heads. It doesn’t exactly welcome engagement or discussion amongst followers and fans.

Microsoft has found a way to bridge this gap through emphasizing visual content and avoiding too much tech talk. They know that their primary audience on Facebook is going to be typical consumers like you and me, and compose their messages accordingly.

Their latest Facebook campaign is around the hashtag #5to9, which focuses on what you do with your time outside of the office. They also take common workplace acronyms, like PTO and ETA, and change them into non work-related phrases. This strategy emphasizes work-life balance, while also showing how Microsoft products can be used for both work and play.

Microsoft

Microsoft has been modernizing its brand over the past couple years, updating its logo and introducing new products like Bing, the Surface, and Windows 8. These products are a far cry from the early Microsoft that came on the market. With that has come a new marketing strategy, heavily focused on social media and video.

Sure, Apple is a major player in the technology industry, but they barely use Facebook or social media. Microsoft has effectively used this to their advantage by creating an engaging page that is easy to understand. For those who don’t comprehend technology lingo (like me), this approach is quite refreshing. Microsoft proves that even the most intellectual of industries can appeal to everyone if you can bring things down to a “human” level.

7) Universal Studios Orlando

Number of Likes: 1.2 million

When you’re creating a marketing strategy, one of the first things you might do is consider your competitors. What are they doing in their marketing and how is it working for them? Universal Studios doesn’t do that. It doesn’t seem to bother them that Disney World is just a few miles down the road; they have developed an image in the marketplace and stand by it.

A turning point for Universal Studios was the partnership with J.K. Rowling in creating the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Arguably the most successful book and movie series in generations, this acquisition has proven to be a real game-changer for the theme park.

Previously, visitors often traveled to Orlando to go to Disney and maybe squeeze in a day at Universal if they had time to spare. Now, people are starting to travel to Orlando for Universal. From 2009-2012, Universal Studios Orlando saw theme-park traffic increase almost 5% following the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Orlando tourism as a whole rose over 7% during this period, almost entirely due to Universal’s expansion.

When you interact with Universal Studios Orlando on Facebook, it is immediately clear that they don’t intend to modify their brand to pull Disney visitors from their parks. By staying true to who they are, they’ve been able to do that anyways.

Their Facebook presence is a lot different from Disney’s, in that they don’t really focus on characters from the movies their parks are based on, but rather on the people visiting them. Sharing pictures submitted by their fans makes the page conversational and customer-focused. If you check out Disney’s page, you’ll see a lot of pictures of princesses and characters, but Universal’s page predominantly features pictures of the attractions themselves and the people that come through their gates.

Universal_Studios

Universal Studios completed a campaign at the end of 2014 sharing the “Top 100 Fan Moments” of the year. It was an album consisting of mostly fan-shared photos; pictures of families enjoying time together around the parks. They continue to encourage fans to share images with the hashtag #UniversalMoments.

We will probably continue to see the market share of Universal Studios rise as they stay focused on their fans, don’t try to fit the Disney mold, and continue introducing attractions from today’s hottest movies.

8) Fitbit

Number of Likes: 586,000

Fitbit is a relative newcomer to the market in comparison to the brands previously mentioned, yet they’ve made a name for themselves in their marketing, especially on Facebook. If you aren’t familiar with Fitbit yet, you probably will be very soon. They offer watch-like products that track a variety of health measurements, from how many steps you take in a day to how many hours of sleep you get. If you’re on a weight-loss plan, there’s a Fitbit to track your daily calories burned and overall progress.

For being a brand in such a new industry, you might expect their marketing to push a hard sell; wearable tech is projected to be one of the hottest products in the coming years. Well with Fitbit, you’d be wrong.

They actually do very little product promotion on their Facebook page. Rather, their approach focuses on physical and mental health with exercise tips and encouragement. Their strategy is rooted in empowering fans to set fitness-related goals.

When you like the Fitbit page, it’s almost like you’re joining a fitness support group. Many of their posts consist of inspirational quotes and resources to stick to your health and wellness regimen.

Fitbit

Another way they have this support group-type of presence is by encouraging Fitbit users to share their stats with their Facebook friends. Everything that your Fitbit tracks can be posted directly, so this is a great way to share your successes and stay on track. They also have a refer-a-friend program through Facebook, where you can get $10 for every person you refer that purchases a Fitbit. Offering incentive programs like this not only benefit you, but it also creates a support system of friends that are on this journey with you.

Even if you aren’t interested in buying a Fitbit, they provide a lot of tips and inspiration that can help you stay on track throughout your fitness journey. Collaborative environments like this can’t help but motivate you to strive towards your health and wellness goals.

9) Aerie

Number of Likes: 1.4 million

Aerie has left a mark on the fashion industry and the way beauty is defined. In an age of Photoshop and retouching, Aerie has taken a stand against “manufactured beauty.” They have made a promise to their customers that they will no longer modify any images of their models, and have come out with a new slogan that says, “We think the real you is sexy.”

What better message could we have in the fashion world than that? When we are constantly bombarded with unattainable images of what magazines define as “beautiful,” it’s great to see a brand put their foot down.

Aerie makes their stance known through social media, and especially through their Facebook page. They share images of their models and you can immediately see the difference between their photos and those you see on the cover of Vogue. These are real women; people that we can actually relate to.

Aerie

They also share a lot of fan-contributed quotes about “real beauty” and what it means to them. If you like Aerie’s Facebook page, your newsfeed is filled with inspiring words that create a sense of positivity, confidence, and lift you up.

It serves as a forum for people to openly share their insecurities and discover what makes them beautiful in their own right. They empower their Facebook fans and do what they can as a social influence to help people love who they are, inside and out. We could certainly use more brands like Aerie in this world.

Key Takeaways

Looking at these 9 brands, you can find several similarities between their Facebook strategies that help them stand out among their competitors. Many use branded hashtags to connect social media platforms together as well as share fan-provided content. These are areas where Facebook can really thrive because they emphasize collaboration and engagement.

Brands like TOMS and the March of Dimes place an emphasis on giving back and helping those going through tough times. Facebook has been a very effective way to pull at people’s heartstrings and raise money for important causes, and this will probably continue for years to come.

What these brands do above everything else is stay true to their company’s foundation. Universal Studios doesn’t try to mimic Disney like Taco Bell doesn’t try to mimic McDonald’s and other fast-food chains.

Even though these are all highly successful companies, any brand can take some cues from their Facebook strategies:

  1. Find what makes you unique from the competition and play off of that. For example, Nike differentiates itself by emphasizing the science and research that goes into developing their products.
  2. Second, don’t force a hard sell in every post. Share content that fans have shared with you, post pictures, and offer tips and advice.
  3. Finally, and most importantly, be yourself. People want to engage with authentic brands on Facebook, brands that “get them.”

If you can master these takeaways, your Facebook page will likely bring positive results.

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