I’ve seen so many executions by brands on Facebook where they offer gadgets or other prizes to people who like their page or perform some other action. However, my boss doesn’t believe in this form of reward. Do we have Philippine Facebook brand page executions that are just there to really engage with their audience without any reward? — Rafael of Parañaque City
You raised a very interesting question that was frequently asked in the past three years Facebook was used by brands for marketing. Year 2011 was the year when almost all the top Filipino brands on Facebook used gifts to attract their audience. However, things changed this year when brands found it harder for their target audience to “like” their page, even with the offer of physical rewards. Consumers have become more discerning of the brands they “like,” and would not think twice of leaving brand pages when those brand pages step over their boundaries by overposting or over-sharing. As the social maturity of Filipinos advances, the demands on Facebook pages by their “likers” grew. The digital audience now looks for more interaction, relevant content, and more functional offerings to satisfy their needs.
One of the most interesting Facebook pages I’ve encountered — whose press launch I attended last week — is the BPI Facebook page, the BPI Bankers Online.  I find it interesting because of three main points that, I think, will become the benchmark and mandate of any
FB-branded page that wants to succeed: brand sincerity, real conversations, and real engagement.
The first point about the page is it shows genuine interest and sincerity in engaging with its audience. This is not just by interacting with its fan base through the FB wall.  In fact, a bank setting up a fan page is, in itself, a stretch already. How many banks or financial institutions here in the Philippines have committed to a Facebook page? How many have carved out a portion of the page to really have people just “talk to them”? This is already beyond marketing. This is the anti-thesis of marketing when you think about it. Beyond the risks a financial institution faces by having a Facebook page, BPI has taken the highest level of brand advocacy by becoming the brand that digitally reached out to Filipinos.
Second is conversations. It has no contests or promotions. it is really a Facebook page that highlights the brand’s honest-to goodness intention to have conversations with its audience. And even without any special promotions or give-aways, it was able to reach 60,000+ likes in a span of three months. This goes to show that people have always been wanting to converse with their bank, but have never been given the chance to do so until recently. In fact, banks have always positioned themselves as cold and solid institutions that take people’s money and earn from it, and then give them a portion of their earnings. With this effort, BPI shows its listening ear and extends a hand to people who want to talk to them.
Third is that beyond the Bankers Online application, real conversations are also happening on the BPI Facebook wall. If you check its page, the response to wall posts is also above industry averages. People like, comment, and share the content on BPI’s Facebook wall. They are comfortable conversing with BPI and other Bpi clients on the wall, instead of use it as a usual place to rant and complain.
BPI has shown us that in the end, it is not really about just creating a Facebook page, but that success lies in the sincerity of the brand to create real conversations and real engagement. And with these three metrics lie the power of a brand to create brand ambassadors who will evangelize the offerings of the brand and defend the brand in the digital space. As consumers in the digital space transition towards conversations and engagement, I hope to see more Filipino brands on Facebook move there.
Given the number of liking contests being done in the Philippines, however, Facebook page managers should be aware of Facebook’s page guidelines. Breaking these rules makes page eligible for immediate deletion. The rules are found in https://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php.
Mr. Lim is the chief e-marketing strategist of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc. (www.mansmith.net). Please e-mail info@mansmith.net, call (+63-2) 584-5858 / 412-0034 or text 0918-81-168-88. Please also send your marketing, sales and strategy questions to mentors@mansmith.net.