A recent headline from KISS on Facebook: ”KISS Facebook Fans Pass 2 Million!” Congratulations! That is great! Two million fans is a huge achievement and is no easy goal to meet. Then I decided it was time to discuss how to use Facebook and Twitter if you are a band, and sorry, KISS, you are the subject matter. This is not meant to put down the band in any way. I am having discussions weekly with various people about the benefit of Facebook Likes and Twitter followers. They ask what can they do to get more Likes and followers, and then what can they do with them once they have them. I only pick KISS because it is subject I know very well and a Facebook page I visit daily.
KISS has an official website, www.kissonline.com, that I built and launched in 1998. I moved on from managing the site in 2005. KISS is very active on Facebook, www.facebook.com/kiss, and Twitter, www.twitter.com/kissofficial. When I was managing Kissonline, I tried to drive as much traffic as I could to the site, and create an experience that would keep the fan on the site as long as possible. I was also looking at new web technologies to interact with the fans and get them back to Kissonline. One such example was a website called Upoc.com.
In 2000, I set up KISS as the first official artist on the site. Upoc was essentially a very early version of a Twitter-style site, years before Twitter existed. Fans signed up to receive SMS text updates from the band. I used Upoc on the Farewell tour to send out updates live from a show, driving fans back to the website for additional details or photos. I wanted the fan to use the many different areas of the website, not just the home page. I would post news excerpts on the home page that linked deep into the site. I would post a couple of small teaser images that would link deep into the site for full photo galleries. I felt that the longer I could keep a fan on the website, and the more areas they interacted with, the greater chance I had at converting them. My conversion goals were either an email signup or buy a product. Kissonline was extremely successful at both. The site was not just about posting some news, photos or videos; it was about using those various types of contents to drive a conversion.
That same conversion model should be what you do with Facebook and Twitter. Drive traffic to your official website for a conversion. The problem with KISS is they don’t do that. At the end of July 2010, KISS passed 1 million Facebook fans. In early October 2010, they passed 1.5 million fans. On November 8, 2010, they passed 2 million fans. I don’t have access to the website’s true web stats, but looking at a publicly available source that the Internet industry often quotes, Compete.com, during that same time period, traffic to Kissonline was 139,000 visits in July, 104,000 visits in August, 105,000 visits in September and 63,000 visits in October. KISS started their U.S. tour in late July and ended in late September. So even during the middle of a major U.S. tour, when you should expect to see traffic to your website increase, it actually went down. With the tour over, traffic is not going to increase. But, during this same period of time, their Facebook fans continued to grow, and grow with great numbers.
|Month||Facebook Likes||Website Unique Visits|
|July 2010||1 million||139,000|
|October 2010||1.5 million||63,000|
|November 2010||2 million||N/A|
UPDATE: The November Compete.com traffic stats indicate just over 60,000 unique visits to Kissonline.com. Traffic continues to fall to the official website, down 5.37% from October, while Facebook continues to grow.
Something is not right if Facebook fans are growing but website visits are decreasing. That something, in my expert online marketing opinion, is the social marketing strategy.
So what is KISS doing on Facebook and Twitter? Let’s look at six recent stories on Kissonline.
- KISS FACEBOOK FANS PASS 2 MILLION!
- KISS SPOTTED IN NEW YORK
- KISS-THEMED SENIOR PHOTO
- HAPPY BIRTHDAY TOMMY!
- GENE TO DON GOALIE GEAR WITH SASKATOON BLADES
- KISS SIGHTING IN FRENCH FASHION MAGAZINE
These same six stories are also posted on the KISS Facebook wall and on Twitter. So far, so good. On Twitter, the link to read the story takes you to Facebook. Facebook? Why are you using Twitter to send your traffic to Facebook? Link each Twitter post back to the individual story on Kissonline. On Facebook, each story is posted in full, with images if available. There are no links back to the original story on Kissonline. So Twitter is sending traffic to Facebook and Facebook has no links back to Kissonline. There is the problem! Why would you ever need to visit Kissonline again if Twitter sends you to Facebook and Facebook gives you the complete story? They should post a short excerpt of the story on Facebook that links back to the full story on Kissonline. Facebook should be a traffic source for Kissonline, not a replacement.
Tip 1 – Post your headlines on Twitter, and link them back to the full story on your website.
Tip 2 – Post a excerpt of the story on Facebook and link back to your website to read the full story.
Tip 3 – Post teaser photos on Facebook that link back to your website to see more photos.
Tip 4 – Don’t post photos on TwitPic and link to them from Twitter. Post the photos on your website and link Twitter to the photo on your website.
The common thread with all these tips is they drive traffic back to your website.
I wonder what sort of money KISS is generating from those 2 million fans. They have a Shop tab, but it is not a commerce app. They are using Cooliris to display a stream of images of merchandise. Essentially a photo gallery of products. The problem is it is not a proper commerce app. There is no call to action buttons on the product, nothing that says BUY NOW. You also can’t make your purchase in the Facebook page. A recent report said that Facebook users who purchase inside Facebook have shopping carts that are 7-10% larger. I know who is making money on the Facebook page: Facebook! Every page on the KISS Facebook page has four ads running on it: ads that Facebook is selling. When I visited, I saw ads for Doritos/Pepsi, Hilton, TBS, Overstock.com, Truth About Ads, Affiliate Wise and Wells Fargo Center. If you drive traffic back to your own website, you could sell your own ads and keep all the revenue.
It is easy to use Twitter and Facebook as proper traffic sources if your website is built with some basic technologies. Kissonline is missing one major technology that I think is preventing this: RSS feeds. There is no RSS feed for the news page. Why isn’t each story a separate blog entry? My website, www.MichaelBrandvold.com, treats every post as a separate blog. When I make a post, it automatically posts a short excerpt on Facebook, linking back to my site for the full story, and updates my Twitter feed and MySpace status with the headline and a link back to my website for the full story. It also automatically reposts old posts to Twitter, since followers on Twitter quite often will miss the one and only time you make a post. It took me maybe a day to install and configure all of this. Facebook is consistently the number one traffic source for my website, followed my Twitter.
But RSS feeds are not the only obvious things missing. Where is “search”? I was looking on Kissonline for the stories about when KISS hit those various Facebook marks. I couldn’t find a simple site search. Maybe I was blind. I had to go to Google and search, which in turn gave me the link to the story on Kissonline. They do offer an official KISS search toolbar for searching the Internet, but no search within Kissonline.
Also missing: user interaction. The Facebook page allows users to comment and discuss, but Kissonline is again missing this critical feature. Kissonline has what they call the KISS Kommunity, but the home page has a couple of broken widgets, and I have never seen them do any marketing to drive fans to the KISS Kommunity. Engaging and converting follows interaction. Interaction between users is the key to the success of the many social networks.
Social marketing was recently discussed on the first panel at Billboard’s 7th Annual Touring Awards and Conference.
In a recent article on Billboard.com, Kevin Martin from band The Gracious Few (and Candlebox) says his band uses the location feature on Twitter to let people in a market know about an upcoming tour. But Martin pointed out that the band has 17,000 friends on Facebook but has not sold 17,000 albums. “How gracious are you?” he asked jokingly. “The record is only ten fucking dollars.” But the levity masked an underlying issue: What does social media friendship actually mean?
This trend of growing Facebook presence and decreasing website traffic is not unique to KISS. Advertising Age recently did a story on this trend.
Coca-Cola, with its 10.7 million Facebook fans, has three to four times the Facebook fan base as MyTown and Foursquare have registered users. (There are at least 11 brands whose Facebook fan pages have quietly grown bigger than the biggest geo-location providers.) That certainly trumps U.S. unique visitors to Coke’s brand website, which fell by more than 40 percent to 242,000 in July compared to a year ago, per Compete. Kraft Foods’ Oreo is the No. 3 brand page on Facebook as tracked by DBM/Scan, with an 8.7 million fan base growing at a clip of 71,000 a day. But the multi-brand site where its web presence has been hosted, NabiscoWorld.com, saw U.S. traffic decline from 1.2 million in July 2009 to 321,000 last month. DBM/Scan tracks 560 such branded Facebook fan pages created since April 2008. Pampers has seen its Facebook fan count shoot north of 327,000 in recent months. But Pampers.com has lost even more people in terms of traffic, much of it driven by its e-mail programs. The site’s unique monthly U.S. visitor count was 560,000 last month, down almost half from the 1.1 million a year ago, according to Compete.com.
To be sure, Facebook is a very important part of a marketing plan. But it is important to have a plan for how you intend to use it. Don’t condition your fans to think of Facebook as a replacement for your website. Facebook should be a extension of and a traffic source for your website.
What does social media friendship actually mean? It means nothing if you do nothing to engage and convert your fans. The dotcom bubble burst because everyone thought eyeballs to a website were all that mattered. Eyeballs mean nothing if they don’t convert. Facebook and Twitter mean nothing if you do nothing to convert those fans.