Facebook has grown to the point that it is ubiquitous in the daily lives of consumers. Recent measures of total participation on Facebook put the social networking site’s total user base at slightly over one billion users. It is estimated that over 600 million people use Facebook every day. The corporate world has taken notice. A growing number of Fortune 500 companies are now using Facebook to connect with their customers. More than 55% of Fortune 500 companies now have a Facebook page designed to engage those companies’ fans.
Of course, having a Facebook presence isn’t the same as being effective at communicating with customers through social media. So, how do the most successful Fortune 500 companies do it? Let’s take a look at five of the best Facebook pages developed by Fortune 500 companies and find out what we can learn from their efforts.
PepsiCo, the drink manufacturer that ranked in 41st place on the annual Fortune 500 list, launched a concerted campaign to tie their “Live For Now” advertising campaign to their social media presence. This included an aggressive effort to boost Pepsi’s brand through its Facebook page. Pepsi made a big push to add interesting events on its Facebook site, including live web streams of exclusive concerts featuring major performing artists from around the world on the Pepsi Facebook page.
Pepsi’s campaign centered on embedding the Pepsi brand deep within the fanbase of the company’s target demographic. The “Live For Now” campaign is about youth. Pepsi sought to offer interesting Facebook offerings that drew those users into Pepsi’s page. Pepsi offered recurring offerings that ensured users would want to repeatedly engage with the brand’s social media efforts multiple times.
Pepsi also discovered a number of interesting facts about their marketing efforts on social media. Pepsi found that authentic images from real events were vastly more engaged by users than staged images that were shot for marketing purposes. The result was that Pepsi Facebook fans in later polling demonstrated significantly higher recall of the company’s “Live For Now” campaign and they more clearly tied the campaign to the Pepsi brand of soft drinks.
Pepsi’s social media campaigns offer up a simple lesson. If you want users to find and engage your Facebook page, give them something they care about. You may not be able to livestream concerts on Facebook, but you should still try to give users something they care about. Authenticity trumps cynical marketing efforts in the social media realm.
Whole Foods is widely considered one of the first Fortune 500 companies to get social media marketing right. The company says it engages over 4.5 million users online each month using social media. Whole Foods was ranked at number 264 on the Fortune 500 list for the year 2012.
Whole Foods utilized a rather cheeky Facebook campaign called “give your friends the bird”. The campaign was aimed at raising awareness of the grocery chain’s holiday poultry offerings. The company wanted to bring attention to their animal welfare practices. The campaign asked users to try to figure which holiday bird best fit their personality. Facebook users gave their friends the bird over 47,000 times. Whole Foods has received over 1.1 million likes on Facebook.
The lesson of the Whole Foods campaign on Facebook is clear. Don’t be afraid to be a bit playful with your fans on Facebook. Everyone appreciates a good joke. More importantly, people love to share a good joke with their friends online.
Gigantic trucks that move hundreds of thousands of tons of dirt may not be the first thing you think of when you think about the Fortune 500 list. And it certainly isn’t the first thing you think of when you consider social media marketing. Caterpillar ranks number 42 on the Fortune 500 list of the world’s top companies. And its social media efforts employ a simple approach: just be yourself.
In some ways Caterpillar has its work cut out for it. Why? Caterpillar has pictures of big, cool trucks on its Facebook page. Even better, Caterpillar is able to present videos of big trucks doing their dirty work at job sites worldwide every single day.
If authenticity is critical to social media marketing, Caterpillar has authenticity in ready supply. Simply put, its fans like big trucks. And the wily Cat uses its Facebook presence to feed directly into the love the company’s fans have for the product.
Safeway uses a similar approach to the one Caterpillar employs. In fact, you can argue that Safeway hits its users at more of a, shall we say, gut level. Safeway fills its Facebook pages with pictures of what it sells, a wide selection of delicious foods. Safeway clocked in at #64 on the Fortune 500 list.
The company extends these efforts by posting tons of recipes for folks to try. In many ways, offering recipes is a social media trick that is way older than the internet. The next time you eat a pecan pie, it’s worth considering the first pecan pie recipe was invented by the folks at Karo to encourage consumers to use more corn syrup in their cooking!
Safeway’s Facebook efforts should serve as a reminder. Not every social media marketing trick has to be cutting edge and clever. What worked in the days of print media can work just as well on Facebook.
Ranked #118 on the Fortune 500 list, Aflac is trying to bring the need for health insurance to the social networking masses. Aflac faces the biggest challenge in social media. No one really wants to think about getting hurt at work.
Aflac has sought to tie its television marketing efforts together with its Facebook presence. The company used its Facebook page to promote its philanthropic efforts, raising $2 million dollars in 2012 for a children’s cancer charity. Aflac shows that social media users want brands to care about the issues they care about.
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