For a Cost-Effective Way to Use Facebook, Be Active, Be Human

Facebook provides an easy-to-use platform for a brand to directly engage with advocates and develop an active community of followers—especially if the brand happens to be a large company like PepsiCo, Starbucks or Intel.

But what about brands that don’t have the budget of Fortune 500 companies? A presence on Facebook is equally important for them. However, instead of throwing money at the social media site, these companies need to develop alternative strategies for building an engaged following.

For example, TerraCycle, a global collector of non-recyclable waste, has used contests, giveaways and cross-promotional opportunities—all cost-efficient alternatives—to develop an active audience of close to 30,000 fans. It even got a little creative by partnering up with a small social gaming start-up to build a Facebook game based on TerraCycle’s recycling model, says Albe Zakes, global vice president of media at TerraCycle.

TerraCycle also conducts market research and business development by surveying fans and followers on topics such as packaging redesigns and what material to collect, says Zakes.

With that in mind, Zakes points to three Facebook strategies for developing and maintaining an engaged audience:

  • Keep a fair percentage of posts non-promotional: Provide relevant, informative, funny or even heart-warming stories from your industry and beyond.
  • Remember that cross-promotional opportunities exist everywhere.

  • Be committed to responsiveness: "The faster you respond and interact with your community, the followers the more you stand to gain," says Zakes.

It also doesn’t hurt to use a human voice, says Sandy Won, director of strategic communications at the International Center for Research on Women. "Facebook is a much more personal presence for us. We wanted to personalize and humanize our work, but also use it as a channel to reach people who were talking about the things that we care about," says Won.

To humanize their content and page, the ICRW started asking its researchers out in the field to blog 200-300 words about their experiences. "Those experiences have turned into compelling content with personality," says Won.

Attend PR News’ Digital PR Summit on Feb. 16 in San Francisco to learn more about using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ for your communications initiatives.