A challenge associated with the use of fan pages by a brand is to elicit engagement behaviours towards it, by attracting people’s attention and enticing them to take that first step and interact by clicking on branded content. This latter behaviour of clicking content generated on the fan page can lead to more specific behaviours, constrained by the platform functionalities, such as showing support and liking the content itself, clicking on the “share” button and posting it in the user’s personal profile or over one of the user’s connections, as well as commenting and clicking on any hyperlink that will lead the user towards content in another part of the web. Consumer engagement with the brand in its social media presence is the top metric for marketing practitioners. From all the different metrics that practitioners use to measure engagement in these platforms, the interaction rate was cited as the most important metric by 85.7% of the sample of a survey conducted with US agency and marketing executives.
There is emerging research that looks at the factors determining the types of behaviours in an online context. For instance, a study propose and tested via simulations a model that used social influence factors as determinants of behavioural outcomes, including click-through rates. Moreover, other researchers also found, in their empirical study, that social influence factors such as mere virtual presence can affect intentions when engaging with a brand in social media settings, when the sources of influence have certain demographic characteristics. Thus, there have been recent calls to provide further empirical evidence on what other factors determine engagement behaviours in social media settings.
One more challenge that emerges regarding brand presence in this environment is the decision to make physical location of that brand a proxy for the segmentation of fan pages. Some large brands use a country or even towns as the unit of segmentation of their online presence (e.g. SPAR, a convenience store has a Fan page for the UK but also Fan pages for many of the locations across the UK). Similar behaviours are also followed by brands across different categories and countries (e.g. Coca Cola, Starbucks), with financial implications for the management, and promotion of each of those different outlets. As investment in social media is expected to keep growing as a percentage of the marketing budget and the focus of marketing activities in this environment remains on customer engagement, research that can provide guidance on how to increase customer engagement is needed. In particular, evidence is needed that supports the theory that customer engagement behaviours, in the form of interactions with social media brand presence, increases as a consequence of the ‘localisation’ of Facebook fan pages.
Throughout the following series of posts, I will be discussing the evidence that explains the antecedents of online consumer engagement with Facebook fan pages from a social influence perspective. But in the meanwhile, are there any other challenges that you as a digital marketer have experience when managing Fan pages?