FACEBOOK-FAN-PAGE-COMMUNITIES: THE GREAT PIONEERS?! Part 2

Written by Jule Radeke

Facebook recognized the brand community trend and consequently followed up on it. In 2010, Facebook initiated the community pages where users could simply opt-in by LIKING the respective brand page. These community pages are dedicated to a topic or experience that is owned collectively by the community connected to it” (Facebook.com, 2010).

Out of the over 15 million brands and companies active on Facebook (Facebook.com, 2014) some of the biggest and most successful Facebook-fan-page-brand-communities of 2014 will be looked at within this second blog post (fanpagelist.com, 2014).

#19 Starbucks Coffee: All You Need Is Coffee

 Figure 1: Starbucks Facebook Main Page (facebook.com, 2015a)

Figure 1: Starbucks Facebook Main Page (facebook.com, 2015a)

The fast-growing Starbucks fan-community, which opened in 2008, provides a great example of how Facebook can contribute to customer engagement (Gembarski, 2012). Today, Starbucks counts to one of the most successful Facebook company users with around 38,124,703 page LIKES, reflecting the high customer engagement. Their success formula is simple: Starbucks goal is it to design a community page with the customer in the spotlight. This idea ranges from the design of its page to the content itself (Gembarski, 2012). In addition, the main post contributions are made by Starbucks-fans who simply like to share their passion and newest experiences revolving around coffee (Gembarski, 2012). Starbucks is hereby not paying its fans to create this kind of (community) platform, which shows that Starbucks follows the discussed literature by firstly involve their customers (LIKES) and secondly emotionally attach them through high customer engagement. Starbucks brand admiration is resembled in the 2014’s most successful post. A picture of two Vanilla Macciato Coffees resulted in this incredible amount of customer engagement:

 Figure 2: Highest Customer Engagement 2014 (Burney, 2014)

Figure 2: Highest Customer Engagement 2014 (Burney, 2014)

Only occasionally, Starbucks is contributing some own posts, however, always in regards to a love-sharing coffee context. Starbucks carefully considers not selling any products, but focuses on the brand-specific interest of the community (Gummerus et al., 2012). Creating a customer community feeling” is deeply embedded in the marketing strategy of Starbucks, which is why the community aspect is strongly followed offline too (voteforus.com, n.d.).

 Figure 3: Startbucks Community Main Page (community.starbucks.com, 2015)

Figure 3: Startbucks Community Main Page (community.starbucks.com, 2015)

#4 Coca Cola: Happiness In A Bottle

 Coca Cola Facebook Main Page (facebook.com, 2015b)

Coca Cola Facebook Main Page (facebook.com, 2015b)

With an average interaction of approximately 4,500 visitors per post (Burney, 2014) and an overall Facebook LIKE number off 93,605,679, Coca Cola is considered another Facebook- pioneer in terms of their customer engagement (Burney, 2014). Most definitely, the great customer engagement contributed to their overall brand performance in times of equity as Interbrand ranked them as the thirds highest valued brand in 2013 with an estimated value of 79,213 $m (bestglobalbrands.com, 2013). Coca Colas Facebook strategy seems simple as they complement their main page with local pages and product specific brand pages, such as Coca Cola Light or Coca Cola Zero, giving customers the opportunities to involve and engage even with their sub-products. Similar to Starbucks, Coca Cola does not push regular updates, but still generates great on-page traffic by letting their customers unreservedly engage. One of the highest customer engagement traffic in 2014 occurred during their Superbowl advertisement:

 Figure 5: Coca Cola Customer Engagement Superbowl (Burney, 2015)

Figure 5: Coca Cola Customer Engagement Superbowl (Burney, 2015)

Overall, Coca Cola is known to cleverly use Facebook as a mean to purely build and maintain their brand image and to additionally raise awareness for their various campaigns (Burney, 2014).

#13 Nutella: A Dream Of Nougat-Chocolate-Crème

 Figure 6: Nutella Facebook Main Page (facebook.com, 2015c)

Figure 6: Nutella Facebook Main Page (facebook.com, 2015c)

he Ferrero company opened the my Nutella The Community in 2004, responding to the increasing demand for customer engagement and the resulting customer empowerment (Cover, and Pace, 2006). The case study by Cova and Pace (2006) shows that Nutella developed into “the object of a transversal, generational, social and political food cult” and the call for uniting these feelings and emotions under one online-brand-community seemed most reasonable. And even though the community happened outside the Facebook area, the example seems noteworthy since it resembles an extreme customer engagement:

“Nutella is something essential in my life. When I feel down, Nutella brings me back up. Only Nutella gives me this feeling. . . It would have been awful if they had never invented it!!” (p.1096)
“Nutella is the only “person” who is always there to celebrate a happy event or console me if I’m down “(p.1096)

Without a doubt, these customers have become the real protagonist, living their identification with the community to an extreme. Today, Nutella counts with 30,723,014 LIKES, indicating once more the degree of involvement, to the top twenty Facebook fan page brands (fanpagelist.com, 2014).

MAKING A LONG STORY SHORT A WORD OF WISDOME

Undeniably, the emergence of social media lead to the subsequent idea of creating a brand community that builds upon the principle of customer engagement (Cova and Pace, 2006). As previously shown, Facebook has the ability to generate huge audiences and is considered to be an ideal customer engagement relationship enhancing tool in today’s world (wide web). Especially for larger brands, Facebook seems to be an ideal hub for information and content spreading, allowing regular customer engagement, interaction and communication. Unquestionably, an engaged brand community is the ultimate asset for a company (Turri, Smith, & Kemp, 2013). Literature and the aforementioned Facebook examples show that a community who has active loyalists is the most successful one. However, to the researcher’s knowledge, only a few brands have actually used Facebook-fan-pages as an online-brand-community building tool. Forecasts reveal that the number of people that create and share personal profiles on Facebook is quickly growing (Latka, 2014), which is why brand managers should believe in the implementation of such Facebook-fan-page-brand-communities. In doing so, brand managers are welcome to consider the following:

  1. (1)  Involvement - a starting point: The first step to customer engagement is embedded in involving the customer, making them familiar and aware of the brand community.

  2. (2)  Strong brand identity features: Brand managers need to turn the brand’s essence into a community purpose, something with which the customer can strongly identify with in order to turn their involvement into customer engagement.

  3. (3)  Create enjoyable experiences for members: Community members develop a positive attitude towards brands, which happens when the offered experience is in line and relevant with the member’s interest. Herewith, the described dyadic customer brand relationship applies.

  4. (4)  Keep customer engaged over the long run: If the content is relevant, people will come back and actively participate, however, keeping customer engaged is an enormous challenge. Providing some ‘freshness’ by introducing new campaigns (Coca-Cola: Superbowl) is one solution to keep, build and create ‘community feeling’.

  5. (5)  Encourage content creation: Is the last and ultimate key to a Facebook-fan-page-brand- community success. Allowing your members to simply present a Facebook-fan-page- brand-community, providing them with trust and confidence will ultimately turn into a higher level of customer engagement (and commitment).

    (Gaspersz, 2012)

Brand managers, however, have to be aware of the possible disadvantages and risks that are hidden with the implementation of Facebook-fan-page-brand-communities: (1) there is the danger of allowing customer too much control (serendipitous hijack phenomena) to freely publish and post their thoughts and comments. After all, the online world is not limited by land borders, making such communities a simple victim for brand attacks and so-called online firestorms. (2) Once the content is out there, it will hardly be erasable. (3) Research shows that advertising on Facebook will lead to higher brand awareness and purchase intention (Pereira et.al, 2014), however, Facebook-fan-page-brand-communities are primarily for the community feeling and any disregard, such as obvious advertisement, may lead to the above mentioned online firestorms. (4) Brand managers have to be able to build such dyadic relationship by constantly being active and interactive on their Facebook-fan-page-brand-community. Taking care of such a Facebook-fan-page-brand-community might consequently require more time, finances and energy, whereby its pay-off is not guaranteed. (5) Keeping a constant and high customer engagement might be challenging in regards to a brand’s overall promise. If customers feel a discrepancy between their expectations and the delivery, the aforementioned prognosis of the uncontrollable online firestorm applies.

Nevertheless, if all these aspects are carefully considered, brand managers will most likely strengthen their customer engagement and overall customer brand relationship, which will result in the beneficial side effects of increasing (1) satisfaction, (2) loyalty, (3) commitment, (4) purchase intentions and (5) overall brand awareness. The Global Customer Marketing Lead at Facebook explains and elaborates on these ideas in the context of increasing business impact with Facebook communities (McKeon, 2014).

The above recommendations reveal the future research potential. The advantages and disadvantages of Facebook-fan-page-brand-communities should be empirically proven, which would add to the reliability and validity of this first investigation on Facebook-fan-page-brand- communities in the context of customer engagement.

As a closing remark, one aspect seems evident: social media platforms, such as Facebook, have added to a company’s marketing and band building activities in terms of customer engagement. Subsequently, brand managers need to be aware of how to accurately and wisely use tools like Facebook-fan-page-brand-communities for their customer engagement and customer brand relationship intensification.

This blog post discussed and answered the initial question by providing some theoretical background and illustrating practical examples. Through the consolidation of these two approaches, their importance and relevance became apparent. Moreover, recommendations for brand managers, marketers and future research were provided.