Getting customers to “like” your brand on Facebook is only half the battle when it comes to social media engagement—the real struggle is to keep them “liking” you. Consumers are very selective about the brands they choose to support and what they allow to show on their wall or feed. Some fear that brand messages will crowd out wall posts from friends and family members while others perceive conversations started by marketers as not being valuable (offering entertainment, novelty, or worthwhile monetary incentives). Consumers are less tolerant of irrelevant Facebook posts than they are of irrelevant emails or Tweets, which means they are more likely to “unlike” your brand to save precious space on their walls.
Be useful or be gone.
According to a study by ExactTarget, 40% of Facebook users who become fans do so to receive discounts and promotions, 39% become fans to show their support for a brand to others and 36% join to get a freebie (sample or coupon). So it seems that the driving force for “liking” a brand online is to get discounts.
Retailer Ann Taylor Loft understands this consumer motivation and frequently rewards their fans on Facebook with coupons or special discounts. Recently, they even turned a technical problem into a marketing opportunity. While their website was down for maintenance, Ann Taylor Loft directed their customers to their Facebook page and for “liking” them, they would receive a $10 discount off a $50 purchase.
But marketers face a challenge–they must play their cards right in order to keep their Facebook fans. Not enough useful content or too much promotion and you are gone. According to the study, the top reasons people “unlike” brands on Facebook are that the company posted too frequently (44%), the content became repetitive or boring over time (38%), they only “liked” the company to take advantage of a one-time offer (26%), they didn’t offer enough deals (24%) and their posts were too promotional (24%).
In total, 63% of consumers said they were as likely or more likely to purchase something from a company after ending their Facebook relationship. Another 18% said they only “unlike” a company if they never bought anything in the first place. It seems the correlation between “unliking” a company and continuing to do business with that company is rather complicated.
Takeaway: Facebook remains a viable channel to engage customers. However, you should not put too much emphasis on how many times you are “liked” but rather on keeping an engaged community of fans who like you enough to advertise your brand within their circle of friends.