Facebook - Not the only game in town.
Never mind that people spend 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook. That’s no reason to ignore other means of interacting with consumers online (or off-line for that matter). But make no mistake, there’s a time and a place for everything, even when it comes to social media.
Kirkland’s, a national retailer in home decor, has a customer base made up of mostly women between the ages of 25 and 55. They also communicate with their audience through three major channels—email, Facebook and a custom community site.
A recent survey of Kirkland’s customers revealed a few key differences between avid users of Facebook compared to avid visitors of the custom community site at mykirklands.com. The survey found that the members of the online community are most interested in decorating ideas and advice and engage in lengthy discussions about thing like paint color and what to do with the new vase they found during their last trip to Kirkland’s. Facebook fans, on the other hand are more interested in discounts and deals.
Interestingly, there is little crossover between the two segments. Roughly 60 percent of the mykirklands.com members do not use in Facebook at all. The survey also revealed that the Kirkland’s Facebook customer was 25-55 years old. So much for Facebook being reserved for today’s youth. The online community had mainly 36-55 year olds participating. And, content is customized to each audience.
While Facebook might be a convenient way to reach audiences of all ages, genders and ideologies, it’s important to note that if you compare Facebook to off-line social settings, you have something that resembles a coffee shop. And in the case of Kirkland’s, the community site resembles more of a cozy living room where the pace is slower and people feel a little more at home, a little more comfortable, a little more open and there’s plenty of fun things to do.
Other online channels can coexist with Facebook. The key is to realize that the difference in setting can mean a difference in the values and motivations of the people who go there.
When planning online strategies, keep in mind that the paranoid urge for consistency across channels could lead you astray from the most effective means of interacting with all of your customers.
For Kirkland’s, Facebook has been a very effective tool for collecting likes, stimulating online word-of-mouth and announcing promotions and discounts. The community site, on the other hand, offers a deeper connection with the brand, by creating a space where people can get more intimate with the product and connect more deeply with one another.
At the end of the day, brands still need to be human. And, to make them that way just might mean looking beyond Facebook for other ways to interact with consumers both on and off-line.