Become a Fan: Facebook marketing

On: October 2, 2009
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About Hania Piotrowska
My New Media interest grew out of studying Media Studies and Marketing during my undergraduate education at Maastricht University. After obtaining my Bachelor's degree I took a year off to work at a Public Relations company in Warsaw, Poland. This is where I had a possibility to Media Studies with Marketing, as the company's PR projects were executed mostly online. Using Internet platforms like blogs, Facebook, flicker and such to create a company's image was a really interesting experience and I think I'd like to further explore possibilities of combining New Media with marketing.


Facebook is smart. And they certainly are not a charity sale. In order to provide the thousands of employees with the great benefits and to keep on growing they’ll annoy their users just enough to make some money, but not enough that they migrate to The Next Big Thing. Facebook advertising is not all that obstructive. Even when ads do show up, they are nicely related to your own interest. How does Facebook know how to target you? Because of all the information you give them voluntarily. Advertisers can target you by location, age, gender, education, workplace, relationship status, relationship interests, languages and of course – keywords (Facebook Advertising). A Miami-based wedding planning company can set their campaign to run only on users‘ accounts who live in Miami or within a certain range of kilometers away from it and who set their relationship status to „engaged“. Facebook can help you out with designing the optimal campaign (Suggested Best Practices for Advertising on Facebook). Facebook even prepared “The Insider’s Guide to Viral Marketing“, a document which describes various viral marketing practices available on the site.

As well-designed as Facebook marketing can be, we all know that we don’t like adverts, even if they match our interest. Facebook has a solution for this too – Fan Pages. These are corporate pages which can be set by official business representatives of a company or an organization.

“Create a Page for My Business” – guidelines.

Create a Page

In this post I would like to research various examples of on-obstructive, opt-in marketing techniques are used by companies on Facebook. Brands can create a great space for their costumers to engage with the product. Solutions are vast: create an application, poll, put your videos (commercials) online, create events, write notes, update your status, create incentives for joining your community. The keyword is “opt-in” – users decide themselves that they want to engage with the brand, as opposed to being bombarded with messages they do not want to receive. Let me illustrate this claim with three examples, showing how brands can take full advantage of  creating a consumer space on Facebook for marketing purposes:

Case Study 1 – Ben&Jerry’s (Fan Page)


Let’s examine how Ben&Jerry’s is utilizing Facebook as a marketing platform.

To celebrate the launch of Ben&Jerry’s Flipped Out ice cream the company partnered with FlipMyText to let you surprise your friends with a flipped out status (which hopefully mentions how amazing Ben&Jerry’s is).


On this note I would like to draw your attention to how many interaction options the company’s Fan Page enables: next to the usual “Wall”, “Info”, “Reviews”, “Discussions”, “Boxes”, “Notes”, “Video” and “Photos” there is also information about the new product (“Flipped Out”), “Events”, “FlipMyText” utility, “Polls” (“How do you like your ice cream?”, “Your favorite Flipped Out flavour?”), “Send Ben&Jerry” and “Causes”.

Send Ben&Jerry's

“Send Ben&Jerry” not only plays on the functionality of sending your Facebook friends gifts but also promotes the variety of flavours.

Result? The producer of delicious ice cream has managed to gather quite a fan base on Facebook: 986,077 people state their support for the company. Many of them are actively engaged with the Page:

Hubby Hubby

When Ben&Jerry announced a temporary name change for its popular Chubby Hubby (to Hubby Hubby) in order to celebrate legalization of gay marriage in Vermont, 3.231 people “liked” the information and a stunning 576 of them left a comment to praise the move. An active community who are engaged with the brand for a prolonged period of time voluntarily and without a material incentive are all a brand can ask for… It takes a great product to create such a bond, but creating a platform for the brand’s supporters to unite is equally important.

Case Study 2 – Burger King „Whooper Sacrifice“ (Application/Fan Page)

Whooper Challange

What was announced by the press to be one of the most creative advertising campaigns on Facebook (Tech Crunch) was shut down (or rather disabled, as it still exists only its functionality is blocked) just a week before its launch. „Whooper Sacrifice“ was Crispin Porter + Bogusky creative ad agency’s campaign for Burger King. You get rid of 10 friends from your friends list, we give you a free Whooper voucher. 233,906 friends were removed by 82,771 people in less than a week. The reason for the shut down was privacy issues violation:

„ We encourage creativity from developers and brands using Facebook Platform, but we also must ensure that applications follow users’ expectations of privacy. This application facilitated activity that ran counter to user privacy by notifying people when a user removes a friend. We have reached out to the developer with suggested solutions. In the meantime, we are taking the necessary steps to assure the trust users have established on Facebook is maintained.” (1)

What  the Facebook team didn’t like was the generation of a news feed about being deleted from somebody’s friends list. Usually, when somebody is deleted by another user no notification is shown to either the person or the person’s friends. Reactions of the public ranged from shock of how anti-social the application was, to extremely enthusiastic. In the end, what really mattered was the vast media coverage the campaign received, creating a lot of free media buzz. Possibilities offered by Facebook as a marketing platform were used creatively and to a full extend.

By the way, check out the Subservient Chicken campaign.

Case Study 3 – Heyah (Fan Page)


Heyah is a pay-as-you-go brand offered by Polish GSM provider Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa, targeted mainly at young people. It’s Facebook existence in the Pages section has attracted 14,394 fans who are a very active community. The brand is known for its excellent marketing campaigns and takes full advantage of what the Facebook marketing platform has to offer as well.

One of the most successful recent marketing campaigns in Poland was Heyah’s “No To Sru”. The ad used a play on the English word “through” the the Polish common mispronunciation thereof – “sru”. The colloquial word “sru” can be loosely translated as “down with it”. When the cat-student gets annoyed by the dog-teacher he nonchalantly says what can be translated as: “Whatever. Down with it”. He then drops the iron anchor on the dog and the lector mentions all of Heyah’s services which are “down in price”. You can watch the commercial by clicking on this link.

Hayah’s Facebook fan has an easy access to all of Heyah’s recent commercials within one click. “No To Sru” has become the most popular animation film on YouTube amongst Polish people. Heyah has even made space for fan videos:


An application has been created which enables the users to create their own scenario of the commercial. One can use various cat and dog figures, text bubbles and props. A funny example of fan art:

Fan artFrame 1.

teacher: Three

student: Fri (common Polish pronounciation)

Frame 2.

teacher: ….

student: Not for free (fri)?

Frame 3.

Lector in a calming voice: for free, for free… (Free SMSes within Heyah)

Heyah also makes sure to not only interact with its “fans” but also to promote its products through the Facebook platform:


On the Fan Page one can find a poll (168 likes, 111 comments) and Heyah ringtone (149 likes, 28 comments). The company tries to stay close to the consumer base. One of its status updates reads: “We have 10.000 fans. Thank you!” (111 likes, 36 comments).


Such an intimate way of consumer-brand interaction was not possible in the pre-Web 2.0 world. Companies are smart to realize the potential of the opt-in marketing on social platforms such as Facebook. Maintaining a company’s positive image is an essential part of promotional strategies and Facebook is a very good place to promote oneself. Simply starting a Fan Page might not be enough, however. Ben&Jerry’s, Burger King and Heyah seem to understand that it is important to create extra value for members to join in. Providing them with interaction, additional features and sense of community strongly enhances their online company experience and can strengthen the consumer-brand bonds.


1. Brian Morrissey (2009). BK Offers Facebook ‘Sacrifice’.

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