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5 Website Functions You Need to Move to Facebook

Just a few years ago, a website was the most important key to delivering relevant content about your brand to your target demographic. Due to the rise of Facebook, though, things have changed significantly. No longer are marketing materials directing consumers to visit the brand’s dotcom to learn more — they’re being told to find them on Facebook.
Why has this shift occurred? Well, more and more each day, it’s becoming apparent that a significant portion of the user web experience starts and ends with Facebook. If brands want to garner the attention of consumers, they need to be in front of them where they spend most of their time, and it’s no secret that we spend more time on Facebook than anywhere else. In fact, according to Nielsen, users spent more than six hours on Facebook during the course of April 2011, putting it ahead of such web properties as Yahoo, MSN, and YouTube. With engagement metrics like that in mind, it is clear why Facebook is becoming a more prevalent option for some of the world’s most popular brands.
But how far should we take this? Should Facebook rule our marketing world? Despite the fact that I am a big fan, it sounds precarious to me. At this point, I recommend that brands (that have the resources) maintain a balance between their own web presence and their investment in Facebook. Company and product websites should be left in place for the purposes of corporate communication. There are still some things that don’t belong on Facebook — and legal information happens to be one of them. But what about more creative and compelling content? The warm confines of Facebook make for an excellent home for this kind of information.
Below I’ve established a list of five items that once resided on your destination homepage that shouldn’t be there anymore. Agree with me? Disagree? Whatever your opinion might be, share it in the comments section below and let your voice be heard.
Online fan communities
Without question, Facebook should be home to your fan community. While some might argue that it’s important from a branding standpoint to provide an outlet for discussion, the sheer volume of Facebook users is enough to drive marketers to select Facebook in this case. For instance, on the Coca-Cola Facebook page, there is a constant flow of new topics of discussion and declarations of fandom all day, every day. This is very good for the brand. Facebook and its viral functionality make it easy for Coke fans to share and connect.
Although Facebook pages are not as branding-friendly as most marketers would like, the Coke page offers an experience similar to what one would expect from a traditional web presence. It has a “home” section, a section with photos and videos of Coke, links to contests, and additional Coke social media channels like Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. With the new addition of Facebook tagging for brand pages, there are also more opportunities for Facebook users to serve as advocates for the brand. And of course we are seeing that peer endorsements are more influential among users than commercials or celebrity endorsements.
Major League Baseball offers another example of an active fan community on Facebook. The San Francisco Giants, for example (in case you’re wondering, yes, there is a hometown bias here), offer users the ability to interact with other fans and engage in discussions on everything from tips for an Australian fan attending his first Giants game to player sightings to weather updates before you head out to the stadium.
Photos and videos
At this point, the same photos and videos found on your brand’s website should be hosted on Facebook as well. By hosting this content on the Facebook hub, you’re inviting users to engage with your collateral in a more meaningful way than if you were to simply throw them up on the web and never look at them again.
For instance, before viewing photos and videos of the next installment of the popular EA Sports gaming franchise Madden, Facebook users must “like” the game’s page. Upon doing so, they will be greeted with a wealth of content, such as a behind-the-scenes look at the photo shoot for the game’s cover. These photos and videos garner hundreds, if not thousands, of “likes” from users. While the number isn’t astronomical, it’s still far more engagement than one would get from a traditional website.
Special offers and rewards programs
More brands are beginning to allow users to manage their subscriptions to rewards cards or other special offer programs through Facebook. One such company is Starbucks. Using Facebook, users can check the status of their Starbucks Card at any time. This makes perfect sense for an audience that is already on Facebook each day.
Polls and surveys
In May, Facebook reintroduced Facebook Questions, reviving the service as a means of polling users on certain issues. As you might expect, brands are already leveraging this functionality to drive more engagement among users. Once such brand is the NHL, which took advantage of the polling service to acquire viewers for the Stanley Cup. As you see in the screenshot, it was able to garner 25,822 votes in less than a day.
Although it’s still a relatively new addition to Facebook, look for more brands and companies to leverage the polls section to serve as an informal means of determining consumer sentiment. While it’s obviously not as targeted as a focus group, it can be a potent tool for any brand marketing on the platform.
Some companies are going all in
While some companies are testing the waters with Facebook and seeing what works and what is ineffective for their brand, other companies are going all out and fully integrating their products into the platform. Take, for instance, the popular clothing company Express, which has added its entire catalog of clothing to its Facebook page. In addition to purchasing clothes from the Facebook page, users can also share their favorite items or suggest gift ideas to their friends via the share button.
It’s not for everyone — yetAs it stands, not every brand should move its entire consumer-facing web presence to Facebook. Although Facebook has proven to be a powerful tool for engaging consumers, there are still some aspects of web development that are ahead of Facebook in terms of user experience. But companies with forward-thinking marketers should move aspects of their web presence to Facebook and carefully monitor the increase or decrease in engagement among consumers.
It’s not for everyone just yet, but we might one day live in a world where it’s not just five things that should live on Facebook, but perhaps your brand’s entire online identity. But not yet.