Converting Facebook Fans into Personal Relationships

Converting Facebook Fans into Personal Relationships

5th Oct 2011

With over 687 million registered users facebook has developed into an ideal medium for sports clubs & organisations to engage and communicate with their fans. With such a high level of passion, loyalty and pride involved in the world of sport (which other industries would die for!) it’s incredibly easy for clubs to attract huge numbers of followers on their facebook page. For example football clubs such as Manchester United, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona all have an incredible 20 million facebook fans! However, one challenge we have in the CRM space, and one question that we are getting asked more and more frequently by our clients is how do we learn more about these fans and covert them into long-term, profitable and personal relationships?

The fact is that unless you can find out more about your facebook fans and incentivise them to share their details with you then your communication with them will always be based on ‘mass messaging’ rather than targeted, relevant and personalised communications. Many sports clubs are in danger of using facebook simply as an engagement tool and are not sufficiently focused on turning their fanbase into a customerbase. Building an engaged community, sharing latest news, monitoring fans opinions and gaining feedback is certainly a valuable strategy but in order to start building personal and profitable relationships with these fans, your strategy should be biased towards implementing data opt-in tactics. This can be achieved by integrating interactive activities such as games, competitions, quizzes, exclusive merchandise and newsletter sign-ups all of which should require/request fans to input their details in order to participate. 

The best way of generating maximum response and interest is by creating a sense of urgency and exclusivity around your facebook page and any products you are promoting ie. ticket offers, merchandise, competitons. Don't forget to also target the friends of your fans too to build up further leads. Again the best way to do this is through sharing exclusive content that they will then want to share with their friends or incentivising them to encourage their friends to enter competitions or special promotions.   

For an idea of what leading brands outside the sports industry are doing on facebook take a look at the page of clothing retailer ASOS, who currently have just over one million fans. They have strong calls to action advertising ‘exclusive competitions’ and various other content available to their fans but in order to access these offers their fans must ‘opt-in’ to letting ASOS access basic information about them from their profile page eg. name, birthday, email address and also, crucially, the right to email them directly. As soon as a fan opts-in, ASOS has gained a new lead for its CRM system along with personal information on which they can begin to build up a profile to enable highly targeted and personalised communications.

Back in the sports industry, with four million fans on facebook, the NFL has weaved data capture initiatives and strong sales messaging into its page, including a highly visible retail link which feeds into the NFL online shop and a ‘Join the NFL Fan Community’ link. This link asks for personal information such as contact details, date of birth etc, which again feeds into their CRM system and facilitates the start of the relationship building process.

So open up your facebook page and have a look with fresh eyes – is it purely information based content? Are you missing out on some key CRM opportunities? Are there strong calls to action? Take a look at the techniques that other sports clubs are using and of course leading brands outside of the sports industry for ideas. Remember that the goal of any marketing activity should be to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time to maximise ROI and this approach should be incorporated into your overall facebook strategy. And finally, don't be afraid to experiment!