Teams Need To Look Beyond Facebook Pages

There’s more to creating community than Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, etc.

Participation and engagement are the easy parts. What you do with it is the challenge.

The free social media platforms can be great for teams, but they each have their limitations. Let’s look at Facebook pages.

Facebook vs. owned community

I’m not trying to say teams shouldn’t have a presence on Facebook. Clearly, teams must be there, so they can reach some of the 325 million+ people there now. I’m just saying that if you care about any of the above items, you shouldn’t make Facebook your home base. You should probably be thinking about taking things in-house and creating your own community website, like the Colts have done with

This applies to brands outside of sports, too.

What do you think?

  • Joel Price

    You can’t overly obsess about “owning” the community and then potentially miss the point on what being on social sites is about… it’s about reaching out to your fans/customers.

  • Jason

    Good point, Joel. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  • mark

    All of the features in the world won’t make up for the fact that Facebook already has 100 million users signed up on it, while you are starting from 0 with your own community. Perhaps Facebook Connect can help mitigate this by letting people use their existing Facebook account to hop on your owned community site? What are your thoughts on this

  • Rob Laughter

    I’m not sure of your definition of “robust,” but Facebook Fan Pages have some pretty great metrics. With the number of apps out there, you might as well have full control over your Page’s features. Building a custom app can be far less costly than building an entire community if you need just one feature, and communicating on Facebook engages users in an environment in which they are already primed to share, communicate, and discuss.

    I’m teaching a session on digging in to Facebook Fan Pages near N. Hills on Dec. 2. You’re welcome to drop in.

  • Jason

    Mark – good point. Teams aren’t exactly starting from zero, though. They probably have lists of 50-100k prospects, ticket buyers, fans, etc and can promote a community to them via email or their websites. On Facebook, you still have to get people to your page. I definitely think integrating Facebook Connect is the way to go–so people can easily invite their friends and teams can push out community actions/activities to the Facebook news stream.

  • Jason

    Rob- Facebook metrics are pretty weak. You can’t tell how many of your “fans” are purchasing tickets, merchandise, etc, what they’re purchasing (all the way to the item level), what the purchase amounts are, who has invited the most friends, etc, and then compare that with purchase behavior of non-community members, like teams could with their own communities. Yes, you can look at referral traffic back to the main website and track individual campaign links, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

    Building a custom Facebook app may or may not be more expensive than some of the current solutions out there. There are some great affordable community platforms out there.

  • Dan Levak

    Agree with Joel – I think sports teams (and media/entertainment companies in general) should be less concerned with control, and more concerned with genuine engagement. Introducing the another online “responsibility” to our fans – new login, a profile to maintain, friend requests, messages to manage – may not be worth the incremental “control” we would gain. I have a saying: engagement, not eyeballs. I’m so much less concerned about web traffic or where fans are consuming our content/engaging our brand and much more concerned about reaching new audiences and fostering as much one-to-one conversation as possible. Being genuine and responsive goes so much further than attempting to control the experience by forcing advertising and putting out “digital flypaper.” We lost control a long time ago, so we’re focusing our energies on meeting our fans on their turf and on their terms. The difference between an intrusive ad and a genuine value proposition on our Facebook page wall has been appreciable in terms of lift. Our long-term strategy will leverage the survivors of the social shakedown (almost certainly Facebook), creating new hooks and experiences within these mainstream communities that are increasingly being looked upon as truly part of our fans’ daily lives.

    Jason – really like your blog…you’re on my regular reading list.

  • Jason

    Hey Dan,

    Great points. I probably did use the word “control” too much. I definitely agree with you that the the focus overall should be facilitating conversations wherever fans are and fostering genuine engagement. I still think there’s an opportunity to create a unique community or club online (and tie it in with an offline program) for a team’s best fans, as long as there is a unique value proposition beyond just “connecting”, since people can already connect on tons of other websites.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I really appreciate the thoughts!

  • dan

    Ditto – We have worked so hard to grow our community via FB and LI, but feel like we would be starting from scratch and having to spend $$’s. Ownership is important, but I just have to have hope that FB and LI will continue to serve my needs. I also don’t have an organic fan base like sports teams, as we are a business professionals community. Interestingly, LI does not allow for a group owner to download the contact information for group members en-masse, so they are making it difficult to convert communities off of their platform.

    As always, thanks for your insights and challenging thoughts.

  • Rob Laughter

    True. Remember, I deal with local small and micro business and developing a community is usually out of the question (though only rarely is it even necessary). For those audiences, Facebook metrics are eye-popping.

    So are you saying that brands that don’t sell merchandise or tickets online could get by with using Facebook as their base of operations?

    By the way, I JUST realized that “teams” refers to “sports teams,” not “marketing teams.” That changes a lot… Now you’re making perfect sense :)

  • Steve Dittmore

    Jason – to me, the reason to be on Facebook is because that is where the people are. There is an Attention Crash going on right now with people visiting fewer websites, but they are not cutting back on FB. And why would you? A person can do anything on FB he or she could do elsewhere – chat, email, share articles, even search for news. Sport organizations need to maximize this community before attempting to make their own.

  • Jason

    Steve- Thanks for stopping by and for commenting. I agree with you re: teams needing to be on Facebook, as there are some great ways to engage fans there.

  • David Astramskas

    I was thinking something similar when I was recently going through a bunch of ABA and international teams that have set up on all of these networks only to show off less than a 100 fans, followers, views, friends, etc.

    I think their biggest problem is they just have nothing worthy of distributing or a voice that the masses or even the fans would care about.

    That’s why i’ve always loved the idea of giving fans their own community for teams so they can freely live in their own world of biased opinions and appreciation for the team/players without having to deal with non fans and general mass public.

    To me the technology and platform comes after “Making sure the team is good/exciting enough” and “Finding the right voice for marketing and communication.”

    It’s always interesting to me if you pitch a traditional medium like a commercial the response will usually be “I need a good script, actor, concept, etc” but if you pitch a medium like facebook or twitter the response is usually any dick and jane can find success which couldn’t be further from the truth.

  • Matt Petrone Split Lip

    All Interesting thoughts, funny thing is, my company just launched a Social networking site on our website. We are a New Exstreme Sports Apperal company based out of Denver. I agree with Jason, With the new gereration of customers coming you need to be willing to do what you need to gain these customers. I think a lot of companys will have a social network, just as every company now has a website. Let me know all your thoughts…..