Facebook’s new groups – opportunities for social media marketers

Facebook recently launched new group features for its users in an attempt to make the social networking platform even more social and collaborative. Also, as more and more marketing folks want access to Facebook data for targeting specific customer segments based on interests, Facebook seems to be making conscious efforts to make their Graph API for groups nimbler and developer friendly.

One of the new features is that Facebook users can now download their information.

Let us take a quick look at how brand marketers or social media marketers can use these new features for engaging Facebook users in a more social and collaborative way. Before I start, you may want to take a quick look at Hubspot’s brief of the new features.

Unlimited Groups – Now that users can form unlimited number of groups, this can be leveraged by brands to drive product or service adoption and use their users’ social influence to enhance the process of adoption .For instance, if you are a tech start up that just launched a fantastic social app, you may design a promotion around groups. One loyal user of the app can form a group and invite others to join the group and download the app. Depending on the number of app downloads contributed by this loyal user (Will post another blog post on how to measure this!), he can be rewarded with movie tickets, or entry passes for a rock concert etc.

Group Chat – Although at this point it is challenging to conceptualize the exact nature of the promotion that can be designed around this, this feature can certainly be used for crowdsourcing ideas in conjunction with the unlimited groups feature. For instance, if you are a therapeutic medicine that benefits different people in different ways, a promotion can be designed as follows. Ask fans to form groups of 3-5 users and through group chat, ask them to come up with a comprehensive one- liner that captures the benefits provided by the medicine. The best line can be a declared winner and rewarded with the product itself, of course, each for every member of the group.

The condition here is to submit the chat as an entry. The product company can get some insight into the thinking process of the group. This idea is presently unstructured, but I think it can be extended.

Mailing list – This needs the least amount of creativity. But this is not a no-brainer. That’s because the mailing lists feature is for users and not for businesses. Users or fans can be gathered around a single idea and they can be asked to form their own mailing lists. Brands or businesses can send specific targeted messages to these mailing lists through their fans. But to achieve this feat, the reward will have to be really enticing. Remember not to cross the limit out of desperation and spamming them since that is a proven way of killing your brand’s image and getting banned on Facebook.

Docs – Using Facebook docs for promotion is fairly unconventional. This can be used to crowdsource ideas for product features. Since this is an unconventional concept, the target audience will also have to be unconventional. Wiki type applications surely have a strong social element to them. Imagine a certain brand helping a certain group of people in a difficult situation. A story can be written around the incident. Brands can engage users by asking them to develop a story using Facebook docs and submit that in the doc format to the promotion administrator. Seems farfetched at this stage? It’s really not that difficult. Best testimonials can be sourced using such a technique. A promotion can be designed to reward the best story created using Facebook docs.

Alternatively, this can also be used as a supplement to other promotions, for instance say a video contest. Imagine the video makers sharing their experience of making the video. That is great content to share both publicly and with the company. So, along with the video contest, a “best-video-making-story” contest can also be designed.

These ideas are in their nascency. As the social media platforms evolve, we will see more marketing innovations around them.

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