Now, you may like me be thinking, fanbook pages. Why bother? Who's going to sign up to a Facebook page for Pringles or Coke?! Well, think again... I was pretty amazed to find out that the answer is 2 to 3 MILLION PEOPLE. Chew on that a second. Several million people interacting one-on-one with your brand as they would do with a Facebook friend....
Below I've edited Callan's comments, added a theme for each brand, and indicated the number of followers of each page.
1. Pringles (2.7 million followers!): Good use of Video
"The fan page for popular potato chip brand Pringles stands out mostly for its great use of video. While Pringles has created an inviting laid back tone, and managed to engage fan via reviews, discussions, and original interactive games, the most notable aspect of the page is definitely their use of video."
Pringles has recognized that its audience on Facebook reacts well to comedy and have used their fan page to catalyze the spread of a set of videos that certainly have the potential for "virality". The videos are low budget productions with little editing or props depicting people singing goofy songs. It’s not much, but Pringles clearly knows its demographic, and the way Facebook works."
2. Coca-Cola (3.5 million followers!): User-empowerment
"The Coca-Cola fan page is testament to the brand’s commitment to user participation. Coca-Cola has taken the unorthodox step of displaying user created content in their main page Wall feed by default, something that most brands shy away from.
However, the best example of how Coke is truly committed to their fans on Facebook is the awesome story of how the page came to be. The page was originally created by two fans who just loved Coke. Coca-Cola found the page, and rather than trying to buy it or create another “official” page, they rewarded the two fans and worked with them to continue building the page and representing the brand."
3. Starbucks (3.5 million followers!): Use of Updates
"Starbuck is clearly dialed in to the world of social media, and that is reflected in the Starbucks fan page. The page incorporates great videos, varied content, and has active engagement with the fans. But what makes it truly exceptional, is its use of status updates.
Status updates are an important aspect of any fan page because they provide two-way communication between company and fan, while keeping the page fresh with new content and information, which gives fans a reason to return. Starbucks' updates share videos, blog posts about all aspects of coffee — and not just on the official company blog — including how to grow coffee beans, articles about Starbucks and Starbucks employees."
4. Adidas (1.9 million followers): use of contests
"The Adidas fan page offers all the usual attributes of a strong page, but what really makes them stand out is the way they use their page’s tools to promote their other social media and advertising campaigns.
For example, Adidas teamed up with MTV to run an exclusive Facebook contest where a fan could win an all-expenses-paid house party. Their campaign was successful for a few reasons. First, Adidas chose a prize and partner that would resonate with the Facebook user demographic. Second, they wisely chose to promote the contest on their fan page not only before the contest, but after it had ended as well. Once they had chosen the lucky winner, they used their page to share the fan’s blog posts, photos and video from the party."
5. Red Bull (1.1 million followers): integrating other social media
"The Red Bull fan page is easily one of the best on Facebook. Their uniqueness is captured in their innovative incorporation of Twitter. Red Bull doesn’t just pull in tweets from their official corporate account, as you might expect most brands do. Instead, Red Bull has aggregated tweets from sponsored athletes like skateboarder Ryan Sheckler and snowboarder Shaun White and included them directly in their Facebook presence. Associating themselves with popular athletes, and letting fans connect to those athletes on a separate social network (i.e., not boxing them in) gives Red Bull some instant cool points."
1. There is no doubting that Facebook has a role to play in brand building, as the millions of people following the brands above show
2. You need a good reason NOT to have a Facebook page for your brand. After all, once you have paid someone to set it up, or done it yourself for free, the only cost is time to monitor it and update some of the content. But most of the content is user-generated
3. That said, the brands Facebook works best for are ones you could imagine having as friends to hang out with and stay in touch with. So, Red Bull, yes. Pepto Bismol or Vicks, less so.
4. Like all media, the key here is to understand your brand, and then adapt the Facebook page to this. A good example is Red Bull's use of content from athletes it sponsors.