There is this general belief that once you have a Facebook fan page with a lot of likes, you automatically have a community behind the showcased brand. That is definitely not the case with the vast majority of pages. The community is basically characterized by being a group of people with common interests or characteristics. Just because you have a lot of likes on a fan page does not mean that you have a community but that is surely what you want to have.
Facebook Brand Pages As Marketing Channels
Companies quickly learn about the fact that they need to have social network accounts. They learn how to build a proper presence and will then start promoting brands. That is why fan pages are normally marketing channels. The main interest of the company behind the page is to generate sales, not bring in a community.
Facebook has a special Page type that you can choose when you create a new presence called Community Page. You can build one but that is only beneficial for a company when it is something that can actually be used. In most situations using the brand fan page as a marketing channel is better for overall ROI.
Likes Do Not Common Based On Community Characteristics Or Interests!
Think about how you regularly use Facebook and why you do it. When you see a musical artist that you like, you will hit the Like button but you do not actually want to be a member of a related online community. People normally like brand pages because they want to receive something for free, a discount or they are currently customers. Another reason why the like button is pressed is to obtain information or content.
Most Fans Will Not Participate On Facebook Brand Pages!
I once talked to a person that had a Facebook Fan Page for his product with around 5,000 likes. He had this perception that this should bring in at least a few hundreds of comments every single day. Based on this assumption he was looking for a social media marketer and a content manager. He did not hire anyone when the people said that such targets are impossible. It took him a long time to understand that the people he interviewed were right and he was wrong.
There is this common Facebook misunderstanding that people who like the page will just keep visiting it to receive more. This is not the case. The page like will not actually guarantee that the person will ever come back. For instance, I did click the Like button for the Lady GaGa page some time ago. I never visited the page after. You surely have your own examples that can be showcased. An AdAge report clearly highlighted that 1% of Facebook fans actually engage with the brand.
Page Managers Think Too Much About Numbers!
There are pages with 10,000 likes that have a lot more engagement than others with 10 times that amount. The big problem is that a lot of brands are mainly interested in numbers. They want to see the brand liked on Facebook as many times as possible. If a community manager highlights the importance of quality over quantity and getting through to the people that count, someone will surely try to stop the trend by thinking about numbers.
If you want to build a true community, it is a bad idea to go for expansion at all costs but that is what most brands want. The managers are basically forced to do what the employer wants.
Conversations Are Usually One Sided
One thing that you might not know is that many of the fans that do stay active on a page will not usually feel the need to post a comment or see many updates. In most situations we are faced with casual observers. Most of the Facebook fan pages are engaged in a one sided conversation or there is no conversation.
As a community manager your goal is to engage with the people and get them involved. However, since over 80% of brand pages will have just around 5 updates a month, there is not much conversation that can be achieved. You cannot form a community if you do not talk with its members.
Number Growing Techniques Hurt The Community Factor!
Many brands will up Facebook numbers by using different gimmicks. They organize contests, create fancy apps or even games. A lot of money is usually put into sponsored stories or regular Facebook ads. Many apps can be incredibly effective but they do not form communities.
Let’s think about Candy Crush Saga, the most successful Facebook game in 2013. Its Facebook page has over 60 million likes. The average number of comments a post gets is between 1500 and 2000 with lower numbers for shares. Only post like numbers are higher at an average of 20,000 to 25,000. Do you think that we have such a huge community in this case compared to what the Facebook page likes number shows us in theory?
Marketing Facebook Pages Is Not A Bad Thing!
Brands are a lot more likely to try to market and not care much about building communities. There is a clear reason for that. The effectiveness of marketing through social media channels is huge at the moment. Facebook is a great channel if you want to spread awareness and get people to talk about your brand. However, you should not see the fan pages as a guarantee when your goal is to build a community.