Facebook fan page clutter dilutes brand

Since Facebook launched its fan pages feature earlier this year, it has become a popular component of many recent campaigns and other brand marketing efforts.

Since Facebook launched its fan pages feature earlier this year, it has become a popular component of many recent campaigns and other brand marketing effort.

Some companies – like PepsiCo or Jim Beam - have created multiple pages for their numerous brands to better customize the content. But, according to some in the marketing industry, building a single corporate page instead, offers more meaningful ways to connect online.

Samantha Lucas, Burson-Marsteller brand marketing chair, says online clutter is often a problem facing companies looking to gain traction on Facebook. There are already so many fan pages on the site and some products even have multiple pages, making it difficult to tell a cohesive story about a brand.

“If people are feeling good enough about a brand to find it on Facebook, the company should spread that goodwill to the other brands,” Lucas says. “For example, how many people were really excited about AMC before Mad Men? Now they have this incredibly sexy draw to their brand.”

Of course, this “halo effect” is complicated because huge conglomerates own many beloved brands. For example, popular earthy brands like Burt's Bee, Naked Juice, and Odwalla are owned by powerhouses like Clorox, PepsiCo, and Coca-Cola – and these affiliations are often intentionally kept quiet.

But Lucas says, even in situations like this, it can make sense to “create the groundswell away from the mothership but then bring that halo back into the fold” with the corporate page.

Ivan Kayser, VP digital at Hill & Knowlton, agrees. He says, while single product pages are good for promotions, they often can't go far beyond that. He warns against companies diluting their pull by spreading themselves thin over many brand pages and missing the chance to build a deeper connection with consumers.

“If you want to talk about innovation, social responsibility, or industry topics – it's imperative that you have a corporate page,” Kayser explains. “It's a bit less natural, it takes a bit more explaining, but you can tell an overarching story.”

When building a Facebook application for client Michelin, Kayser says they opted to go the corporate route rather than have specific applications for Michelin's tires. This, he says, made it easier to make the application, which helps users find balance in their lives, more lifestyle-focused, rather than just promote tires.

Dan Cohen, PR manager for Beam Global Spirits & Wine, says companies shouldn't dilute their brands on Facebook but should also be open to exceptions. For example, he says, because Beam is a global company and its fans range from bourbon connoisseurs to young party-goers, it maintains 14 Facebook pages which includes its Tequila brands, as well as Knob Creek, and others. Even so, it considers its Jim Beam page, for its trademark White Label bourbon, its corporate site.

“If we were to have other brand news we might post it there,” Cohen says. “And if you're on the Jim Beam [White Label fan page], you'll likely naturally hear chatter about Red Stag or our other brands from other visitors through comments or wall posts.”

Wendy Clark, manager of social media communications at General Motors, says even though GM has pages for its four remaining brands, OnStar, and the Chevy Volt, it is trying to streamline its Facebook presence.

“We really don't want to have 30 pages for GM even though we could,” she points out. “We try to limit it to the core brands.”

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