Tag Archive | how to use Facebook pages for businesses

runDisney Heavily Promotes Princess Half Marathon Online, Builds Community Along the Way

A week later, I’m still riding high on finishing my first half marathon. By the time these feelings finally wane, I’ll be gearing up for my next race – the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half on St. Patrick’s Day.

After posting what might be the wordiest race recap in the history of race recaps, I don’t want to bore my readers with more thoughts about my experience with the race. Instead, I’d like to take a look at runDisney’s digital marketing campaign for the Disney Princess Half Marathon. (Note: these are my own opinions and observations as I did not interview anyone for this article.) 

A company like Disney has significant marketing budget to throw behind race promotion compared to other, smaller organizations that put on races. Therefore, it’s no surprise that I’m generally impressed with how runDisney used social media to build awareness for the event, drive it to sell-out status for the fourth year in a row, and – most importantly – foster a sense of community among runners and spectators on various social channels.

Facebook

Before I even thought a half marathon could be in my future, I “liked” the runDisney Facebook page to stay updated on events, announcements, and participate in the community of runners who also love Disney. The team does a great job of updating the page on a regular basis with relevant content and news, but also posts status updates the foster conversations about active lifestyles, running, and training. When I finally registered for the race, this Facebook page became my go-to source of information regarding the race and to get ideas for my training plan.

What I really enjoyed about runDisney’s page is that that it’s become a true social community. Fans use the Wall to communicate openly with each other, sharing tips and asking questions. Fans quickly answer others’ questions thoughtfully and correctly. When you’re on the page, you notice a real sense of community as you see strangers offering words of support and encouragement as people post their accomplishments to the page.

Twitter

While there is no official runDisney handle, the @DisneySports account is used to share news and updates about Disney races. Leading up to race weekend, the profile pushed out numerous runDisney-related Tweets to keep runners informed. However, I didn’t find the Twitter channel as effective of a resource as the Facebook page.

One aspect of the runDisney Twitter strategy I did like is that the team promoted the #runDisney and #princesshalf hashtags, resulting in heavy usage throughout the weekend. While on the road to Orlando, I tracked these conversations on my phone to get an idea of what people were saying about the Expo, traffic, and the race, which help keep me better informed about the event in real-time.

At the start line of the race, the emcee told runners to use the #runDisney tag. Once I crossed the finish line, I had fun going back through the #runDisney stream to look at photos and Tweets other runners had shared during the race (I still don’t know how they Tweet and run at the same time!). It was fun to send and receive congratulatory notes from other runners who finished their first half marathons or achieved personal best times. Like on Facebook, runDisney used Twitter hashtags to foster the community, which left me with even more positive feelings about the race.

Blogger Engagement via FitFluential

About 2 weeks before the Disney Princess Half, I noticed a few of my daily must-read running bloggers posting that they would be running the race, staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, and attending several special events on behalf of runDisney. This came about through FitFluential, an organization that introduces fitness brands to relevant online influencers.

As I’ve said before, blogger engagement – when done well – is an effective means of social marketing. I enjoyed the FitFluential  group’s runDisney coverage and think it helped improve my experience as well as built awareness among their readers about what a full Disney race weekend could look like (and cost).

In addition to reviewing extra events like the Pasta in the Park party and The Race Retreat, these women used their blogs to share little tips and tricks I never would have known otherwise, such as that Disney hosts free first-come, first-served meet-up runs with Olympian Jeff Galloway that are announced on the Disney Parks blog or that the family 5K events aren’t chip-timed (um, no way will I be paying $50 for a race that doesn’t include official times!).

Heather, one of the FitFluential bloggers, organized an independent meet-up the day before the race that allowed bloggers, social media enthusiasts, and readers to all meet in person. This event apparently went well and, coupled with the runDisney/FitFluential partnership, showed the importance of bringing the online offline when developing an active and engaged community.

The heavily integrated social media campaign that runDisney executed for the Princess Half Marathon succeeded so well because it didn’t focus solely on pushing out content. The marketing team used social channels to build a community of engaged people with similar interests and then provided them with various ways to communicate with each other, making for a better overall experience during the race weekend.

Personally, I already can’t wait to cross the finish line of another runDisney event.

I swear this race photo is totally relevant to this post… because… I found out that official race photos were online on Twitter and then posted my photos to Facebook to share with my friends.  See, social media marketing in action… or something like that. :)
If you ran the Princess Half, did you follow along on social media?

Case Study: Broad Street Run Registration Complaints Hijack Facebook Page

Facebook proved again this week to be a top spot for people to express concerns, share complaints, and demand answers when issues arise. When runners encountered major delays while registering for the popular Broad Street Run in Philadelphia, PA, yesterday, the official Facebook page took quite a beating.

How did the team monitoring the page handle the surge of customer service issues? I’d say they did better than most:

Throughout the day, the admins explained the situation, responded to numerous comments left on the Wall, and shared updates about the registration process and website issues. I am also impressed no one is complaining that negative comments have been deleted or removed, which is a knee-jerk reaction many brands have when faced with a deluge of angry posts.

Though, I did encounter one area for improvement involving the default settings of the Facebook wall.

As I tried to register for the race, the site seemed unreasonably slow. Turning to the Facebook page for answers, I could not easily find the Broad Street Run’s administrator comments. I began to doubt whether organizers were using Facebook to provide updates. After sifting through hundreds of angry comments, I finally found info that the page had shared about the registration process. While trying to find official updates, I read a lot of the negative reactions to the race organizers. This left me wondering if I’d made the right decision in signing up for the run.

So, let’s recap:

  • I tried signing up for the race and realized the site seemed very slow
  • Wondering if others had similar issues with the registration process, I turned to social media and visited the Broad Street Run’s Facebook page looking for official notifications
  • When I got to the page, the default view for the Wall featured many negative comments from other runners
  • I could not easily locate official updates from the page owners
  • I doubted that the Broad Street Team was even providing updates through its Facebook page
  • Getting inundated with negative reactions to the race, I began to question my decision to register

With so many upset runners flooding the Wall, the team behind the Broad Street Run should have changed the default settings of the Facebook page so that people automatically saw only official status updates. This allows Facebook users (both fans and nonfans of the page) to quickly receive official information and stay informed, especially with how quickly updates disappear from the News Feed. Should anyone want to read comments from others, there is an option to switch the view to “Everyone:”

This is especially important to consider knowing that over 425 million Facebook users visit the site using a mobile device. Using the iPhone Facebook application, it is very tedious to scroll through Wall updates from both consumers and the page trying to find official news.

In both web browsers and mobile applications, if a page chooses to show its updates by default, only those posts that the page makes will appear unless someone manually switches the view back to “Everyone.”

Normally, I recommend brand pages default to comments from “Everyone” since Facebook is a community platform that thrives on engagement and conversations, but sometimes it is more important to provide updates to users rather than featuring the social conversation taking place on the Wall. In this case, sharing news about the registration process and status of the website should have taken precedence, especially when the page was doing a great job keeping people informed through consistent posts.

What do you think about how Broad Street Run’s Facebook page handled the issues yesterday? Would you have changed the default settings of the page?

Facebook Pages: Using Them to Benefit Your Organization

 

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Yesterday, I helped my company host a social networking training seminar. The event helped me see Facebookas a valuable tool for non-profits and advocacy groups. This was particularly interesting because as I was sitting there, I noticed this tweet from Chris Brogan:

Can someone explain what you DO with a Fan page on Facebook? What comes next? How does it help your business? 10:22 AM August 05, 2008 from web

Since this was exactly what our seminar was on and I couldn’t come up with a clear answer, I decided to pretend I wasn’t one of the volunteers leading the session, but instead that I was one of the participants hearing about Facebook tools, pages, and applications for the first time.

This shift in mentality helped me focus on concepts I thought I knew a lot about, but as it turns out, didn’t actually understand as thoroughly as I probably should.

A Little Background about Life on Facebook

For me, college is synonymous with Facebook. The social network took off at the same time that I started my first semester, meaning I’ve been a Facebook addict since the very beginning – before I could upload and tag photos and before high schoolers even knew what it was.

Needless to say, it was hard for me (and many others at the seminar) to identify Facebook as a professional tool that could help organizations market themselves. All I knew it as was a site to, um, stalk old high school friends and ex-boyfriends.

Facebook: Pages Become a Professional Tool

As Facebook grew in popularity, the developers began releasing new versions of the site regularly. They redesigned the layout, launched new applications, opened the site to the public, and created “pages” to help organizations and causes promote themselves. At first, I thought “pages” were a way for Miley Cyrus fans everywhere to unite. I didn’t see the difference between pages and groups… what was the big deal and why would a company want to use Facebook pages?

All you have to do is look at some of the most popular Facebook pages to understand how they can help your cause go viral. Here are some great examples: Barack Obama, John McCain, Greenpeace, Apple, Susan G. Komen

Facebook Pages: Why They Work

  • It’s free - Unlike MySpace which charges for-profit businesses for branded sites, Facebook pages are free to create for everyone.
  • More customizable than group pages – You can use your organizations’ logo and arrange the content boxes to work with the layout of your page. No matter the size of your organization or budget, you can build a highly interactive community very cheaply.
  • Stream content from other sites – By using Facebook applications such as RSS feeds, MyFlickr, and YouTube Video Box, you can easily manage your Facebook page with minimal work. Many of these applications simply aggregate the content you post on the other sites so you don’t have to do double the work.
  • “Fans” self-select – The people who want your content can opt-in to it, which means these users are most likely champions for your brand or cause who will help build a Facebook community that promotes your organization. If naysayers post something about you in the message boards or wall, it won’t be too long before a fan counters or corrects the comment. This will most likely put your executive board at ease, since this is a huge concern for company leadership with launching social media initiatives.
  • Fans Help Spread the Word - Facebook is social in nature and has many features to help spread the word about your page. When people become fans of your organization, it will show up on their mini-feeds, which all of their friends will see and (hopefully) click on. Depending on how popular you want your site to be, you will have to conduct some basic marketing to hype up your site, but at least you can count on others to do some of the work for you, too.
  • Metrics and monitoring tools - Each page has a comprehensive monitoring capability called Facebook Insights. This allows you to monitor the effectiveness of your page and to bring specific demographic information back to the boardroom. Insights can also help you refine your Facebook ad campaign, if you have one.

Like any social media tool, I am sure there are downsides to Facebook pages and their effectiveness depends on the organization and brand. From my basic research, it looks like non-profits and politicians tend to do better than companies.  If you are interested in learning more about pages, here are some more in-depth resources to check out:

Facebook Pages Official Link

Facebook Developer’s Blog: Introduction to Creating Facebook Pages

Facebook Pages Terms and Regulations

Why Facebook? Mari Smith’s blog about Facebook “for fun and profits”

A post by Mari specific to pages for business purposes

Inside Facebook Pages

(If you have any others, feel free to add in the comments!)