Facebook is a key online marketing tool for businesses—if utilized to its fullest it can drive increased traffic to your website, generate additional sales, promote brand recognition and loyalty, and provide you with a direct communication link to your clients and customers.
Here’s 20 companies—chosen from nominations by entrepreneurs, social media experts, Inc. editors, and Facebook—that we think have awesome fan pages.
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Minimalist is the answer for Bare Escentuals. Fans completely drive the conversation on wall updates, discussion boards and pictures.
Mineral-based makeup is the new rock star in cosmetics, and companies have flooded the marketplace with natural-sounding 'mineral' foundation, blush and eye-shadow formulations. That's why Bare Escentuals, the trailblazer in the mineral-makeup world, considers Facebook such an important brand-differentiation tool.
'We consider ourselves a community, not a company,' says chief marketing officer Simon Cowell. 'And Facebook's just provided a great platform for us to continue that dialogue we have with our customers.' The firm adopts a 'hands-off' Facebook strategy, he adds, letting unsolicited testimonials from its nearly 200,000 fans drive traffic to Bare Escentuals boutiques and resellers. Customer feedback on Facebook even led to a redesign of the firm's product packaging, says Cowell: 'We sell loose minerals, so customers wanted something more portable. That's where the new 'Click, Lock, Go' container came from. It was a huge improvement.''
A very active blog page provides stellar advice on men's fashion while generating tons of feedback and user-generated comments.
'When I see a $50 billion dollar valuation on Facebook, it makes sense to me,' says Andy Dunn, founder of Bonobos, an online retailer of men's clothing. Facebook has become a crucial part of the Bonobos business model; in fact, Facebook has now surpassed direct entry as the No. 1 referring site, and has become a powerful tool to generate new customers.
Dunn says that one of the fundamental problems of a brick and mortar store is that it's not a two-way conversation. With more than 10,000 fans on Facebook, Dunn says the company is able to stay in ongoing communication with its customers, and get useful feedback about the company's products --and experiences with the customer service. 'Every business needs a stroke of good luck,' Dunn says. 'For us, that was Facebook.'
By using Facebook to generate buzz for parties, cement first-time customers, and sell swag, Brendan's was able to successfully launch a company that already had a loyal and excited following.
Brendan's Irish Pub, an authentic Irish pub located in Camarillo, California, officially opened its doors on Jan. 28. Mere weeks later, they've arrived on our 20 Awesome Facebook Fan Pages list with nearly 3,500 fans, a pretty impressive feat for such a young company. But to be fair, months prior to Brendan's grand opening, owner Tyler Rex launched Brendan's Irish Pub's Facebook page, giving himself time to build up hype in the Camarillo community around his new restaurant.
Now that Brendan's is open, Rex continues to build the restaurant's following by providing engaging content, restaurant news and announcements, and most importantly, taking the time to respond to every single comment left on the page. 'We're trying to build a community, so if you take the time to post something on our page, we want to make sure that that's noted,' Rex says.
Weekly giveaways and coupons make Candles Off Main's Facebook page the go-to place for discounts on its products, while informative videos and detailed pictures entice potential buyers.
Candles Off Main, a Annapolis, Maryland-based retailer specializing in home fragrance and luxury candles, launch five years ago but just joined Facebook in 2009. 'Facebook offers a platform like no other: instant content distribution and reaction for an immediate conversation with individuals all over the country,' says Susan Webster Adams, CEO and co-founder of the company. 'Information is brought to consumers on Facebook, in an environment where they are comfortable.'
With 2,400-plus fans, Candles Off Main contends it's a combination of giveaways, discussion boards and consistent responses that makes its Facebook page so effective. 'Facebook probably produces less than 10 per cent of our sales, but what we get from Facebook is more valuable than that,' Adams says. 'We've gained insight, support, suggestions, inspiration, and friends from our Facebook page.'
A virtual tour shows customers how to use their Clarisonic, while a contest encourages fans to send in pictures of themselves using their face brush to win a new one.
Sonic technology revolutionised the way people care for their teeth and gums. Pacific Bioscience Laboratories, the company behind the Clarisonic face brushes, aims to do the same for skincare. Judging from Clarisonic's 70,000-plus fans on its Facebook page, the firm is well on its way. The page's wall is replete with glowing reviews from customers, all of whom received prompt replies from the company. 'Our customers are like, 'Oh my Gosh, someone actually wrote back to me when I posted, and they did it almost immediately!'' says Stacy Bennett, head of marketing at Clarisonic. The firm responds quickly by using a software tool called Radian 6, a virtual dashboard that monitors what customers are saying about Clarisonic on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.
Last fall, the company pledged to donate $1 to charity each time a Facebook user clicked the 'Like' button on its page. The campaign raised $30,000 to support women with cancer and increased Clarisonic's Facebook fan base by 80 per cent. A modest percentage of sales comes from the page's 'Shop' feature, says Bennett, insisting that 'building relationships with customers, not commerce, is our primary goal on Facebook.'
By offering recipes and allowing fans to post their own, Community Coffee has built an active fan base.
Community Coffee is a 92-year-old family-owned coffee company based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Community Coffee has 30 coffee house locations across south Louisiana as well as other divisions in the southeast region of the United States. The main goal of Community Coffee's Facebook presence is to make the brand known to potential customers and to engage existing customers with contests and trivia. Social media manager Blair Brussard often engages the audience by asking if they've ever indulged in the traditional Louisiana libation of adding a little bit of coffee to a whole lot of milk.
'I ask this question every now and then. 'How many of you have grown up with coffee milk? Share your story.' Those kind of conversations, and that one in particular, helps people who aren't from here understand the story behind us and creates an opportunity for everyone here to tell their story,' she says.
eCycler has build a community passionate about recycling on Facebook by posting great content in its Notes section as well as by posting fun videos.
The duo behind eCycler, the Illinois-based company that helps people recycle, won $20,000 in 2011's Fairfield Inn & Suites Small Business Road-to-Success Challenge because of their adeptness at using social media to meet business objectives. Co-founders Tim Laurent and Craig Robertson use Facebook as a communication channel for their 9,000-plus fans and also to make the inner workings of eCycler transparent. 'We want it to be a free place where people can say things about eCycler, give us recommendations, and maybe even share websites of their own,' says Laurent. The company produces a weekly 30-second series called 'Crush that Can' which highlights fun ways to collapse a can for recycling. Although the videos are available on YouTube and Vimeo, the majority of comments and views come from their fans on Facebook.
By announcing discount codes to Facebook fans, Fresh Brothers can easily track Facebook referrals.
Fresh Brothers, founded by real-life brothers Adam, Michael, and Scott Goldberg, is a southern California pizza chain specializing in fresh pizza, salad, and wings. The concept for Fresh Brothers--developed by youngest brother Adam and his wife Debbie--was based around bringing eldest brother Scott's Chicago-style deep dish pizza to the west coast, and giving it a 'fresh' California spin (Scott still owns Miller Pizza Company in Gary, Indiana, since opening the restaurant in 1985).
With five locations and one coming soon to Beverly Hills, Fresh Brothers is expanding by engaging their customers, who they call their 'Fresh Fans,'on Facebook. 'We reward our social media users by offering them a weekly special, but we really excel at sharing family stories and history with our fans, as well as employee stories,' says Adam. 'It's a great way to connect with our customers, and a great way to demonstrate our personality.'
An active discussion board allows for product suggestions and feedback directly from customers.
No, it's not a bakery. Johnny Cupcakes, based in Weymouth, Massachusetts, is a lifestyle brand that sells T-shirts, hoodies, and hats. Founded in 2001 by Johnny Earle, the store has expanded to both the east and west coasts and recently opened its first shop in London.
Lorraine Earle, the company's business manager and mother of the store's owner, Johnny Earle, says the company's Facebook page has been an unexpected boom to the business by driving traffic to their site, and getting useful customer feedback. For example, Johnny Earle recently polled the company's Facebook fans to see if they preferred thin hoodies or thick hoodies.The result? A 50/50 split. (Earle decided to make both.) 'John just opens his mouth and people respond,' Earle says. The company now has over 80,000 fans on Facebook. Five per cent of all site visits came from Facebook, the fifth highest referrer.
A colourful homepage immediately invites fans to follow the company on Twitter, sign up for a newsletter, read the company blog, review products, and it displays contact information prominently.
Mabel Label's, based in Hamilton, Ontario, was founded by four mums who were frustrated with how much stuff their kids lost. Their company, Mabel's Labels, makes sticky labels customised with a child's name, colour, and choice of icon. The company also sells child safety products, like personalised wristbands that can list a child's allergies and name. Tricia Mumby, one of the company's co-founders, says that Facebook has been a terrific way to develop products and new ideas by tapping user suggestions. Mabel's Labels, which has nearly 20,000 Facebook fans, also announces any specials or new products through the company's Facebook page, and will even post photos of the founder's children.
According to Mumby, Facebook is the third largest referring website, just below direct visits and Google, and 11 per cent of the site's total traffic comes from Facebook, while two per cent of sales comes from the Facebook Fan page. 'We find our fans to be extremely helpful and engaged with our brand,' Mumby says. 'We look forward to celebrate 20,000 fans soon.'
Old Spice has fuelled the virility of its 'the Old Spice guy'commercials by posting them on Facebook and allowing fans to comments on them.
This Procter & Gamble brand achieved viral marketing glory last year with its towel-clad, former football star pitchman Isaiah Mustafa, better known as 'the Old Spice guy.'
Facebook is a significant part of this 73-year-old brand's newfound edge, says P&G spokesman Mike Nortan, pointing to the comments posted by millions--1,314,456 to be exact--of smitten fans, who purchase Old Spice deodorant, shower gel and other products. 'Old Spice uses Facebook to connect with our fans on a one-to-one basis,' he says, adding that promoting active discussions and product giveaways on the page have built brand loyalty among customers.
And the Old Spice Guy hasn't thrown in the towel yet. He jumped back on the scene last month with a new series of ads, and the firm allowed one 'superfan' to stream the first commercial on their Facebook page prior to the television premiere date.
A customised game called the Red Mango Founder's Game offers fans the chance to play to win products for a discounted rate or to win a $10 gift card.
'I personally control the majority of the content that's on the page,' says Daniel Kim, founder and chief concept officer of Red Mango, a popular all-natural fat-free yogurt retailer. Red Mango, created in 2006, joined Facebook in 2008 to better communicate with its customers.
Kim says one of the reasons his company's page is so successful, with about 229,141 fans, is the fact that it's genuine. 'We're able to really connect one-on-one with customers and give them access to the people who are behind the brand,' he says. 'It really allows us to give the brand a personality and a voice that's real and genuine.'
A SKDY Super Widget allows users to listen to music, view videos, read blogs, and buy merchandise directly from Facebook.
Unfortunately, since the company recently filed for an IPO with plans to go public, we were unable to interview Skullcandy; however, that doesn't make their appearance on this list any less deserving. Founded in 2003 by Rick Alden, Skullcandy markets and sells gritty designer headphones, backpacks, apparel, and accessories sponsored by athletes, musicians, DJs, and brands.
While Skullcandy's Facebook page has a discussion board and a 'Super Widget' that links content from its website, their fan page's popularity is clearly a result of heavy engagement with its customers. Skullcandy constantly posts news updates, product announcements, articles, contests, and behind-the-scenes pictures and videos to its wall, providing fans multiple chances a day to comment. Recently, Skullcandy asked fans to submit a question to ask its NBA sponsors, and the best question won tickets to Skullcandy's party with rapper Rick Ross in downtown Los Angeles.
With dozens of videos, over 1,000 photos and a score of user-generated comments, SmartPak has cultivated a very active Facebook community.
Based in Plymouth, Massachusetts, SmartPak was founded in 1999 with the mission to simplify the administration of nutritional supplements and medications to horses. Donnie Steel, SmartPak's director of new media, says that Facebook started as a means to market new products, but has turned into a place for its nearly 110,000 fans to congregate, chat, and offer their suggestions. For example, the company began offering How-to articles on the Facebook page, which has been an enormous growth vehicle for users.
In terms of traffic and fans, according to Steel, Facebook is the No. 7 revenue referrer to the website, and says that the site is 'seeing real revenue' from Facebook. In the end, though, Steel says Facebook is all about delivering great customer service. 'We take customer complaints as a way to solve problems,' he says. 'We use Facebook to make sure the customer is happy.'
Facebook provides a unique platform for Stella & Dot to train their direct sellers about each product and how it can be worn, using videos, pictures, and forums.
Named after the beloved grandmothers of its founders, Stella & Dot is a direct-selling company based in Burlingame, California, that provides an entrepreneurial business platform for women that work from home. The company gives their saleswomen, called 'stylists,' the tools to sell Stella & Dot's custom jewelry online, in person, and at home trunk shows. 'We're really a people company, and our stylists generate business through word of mouth,' says Jessica Herrin, CEO of Stella & Dot.
'Being on Facebook, for us, is the perfect platform to share styling tips and let people behind the designs into our process.' Laurie Penn-Moyer, social media director of Stella & Dot, adds, 'For every piece of jewelry we sell, we produce a video that shows how to wear it and what to wear it with--the versatility of the piece. We have this rich content to share with our social community, and there's a lot of valuable user content up there, around simple ways to be stylish.' The company page is nearing 60,000 fans.
Special features allow users to view merchandise, receive exclusive fan discounts, gain insight from Tiny Prints Inspiration Boards, and shop without leaving the social network--turning Facebook fans into buying customers.
Line stationary company Tiny Prints, which specialises in personalised stationary and greeting cards for special occasions and announcements, has gained nearly 64,000 fans on Facebook. Originally, Tiny Prints used Facebook merely as a way to drive traffic, but lately, Tiny Print's fan page has grown into a tightly-knit community built off remarkable customer service and feedback.
Anna Fieler, marketing vice president of Tiny Prints, says the company actively participates and responds to about 99.9 per cent of comments within 24 hours. In return, fans of Tiny Prints have been showing more investment in the company: Fieler reports traffic from Facebook increased over 600 per cent from 2009 to 2010, and during the holiday season, customers who were also Facebook fans spent significantly more than customers who weren't. 'People stop by our page and share their birth announcements, wedding pictures, Valentine's Day cards, their love stories of how they proposed, what they did for their anniversary,' says Fieler. 'We're seeing a community being built around these special moments and life occasions that our products are designed to celebrate.'
Zappos uses Facebook as its culture cultivator: using discussion posts, wall updates, a Fan of the Week contest, and other tactics to whip their fans into a frenzy.
Company culture rules at Zappos. So how does that translate onto its Facebook page? 'It serves as a small, tight-knit community for our very loyal, rabid fans, numbering well over 100,000 on Facebook,' says Aaron Magness, senior director of brand marketing for the powerhouse online shoeseller. That means Zappos won't sell on Facebook or use slick marketing campaigns to win fans. 'It's just a place to have a conversation,' adds Magness, even if it has nothing to do with shoes. (A recent question posted by Zappos read: 'From Arachnophobia to Pteromerhanophobia, some things give people the jitters! What's your funky phobia?' Nearly 100 people replied.) T
he firm does, however, ask for customer feedback, which played a role in its decision to use models instead of mannequins as it gains a foothold in the clothing market. 'It was a big decision, and we wanted to know if customers were comfortable with it,' says Magness. 'Through Facebook, we learned our fan base wasn't comfortable with super-stick-thin runway models.'
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