What would you do if you had to start a new Facebook page for your organization and convince all your fans to like a new page? This is the reality for the athletics department of my alma mater, the University of North Dakota (UND). The university is going to stop using the “Fighting Sioux” as its nickname, and so they need to convince the 48,285 fans (and counting) of University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux to “like” UND Sports instead. To date only 2,296 fans have “liked” the new UND Sports page.
This brings up an important, but often forgotten, point about Facebook pages… You need to choose your Facebook page name carefully, because, as I discussed in my BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas post, Facebook Tips for PR Pros, you cannot change the page name once your page has 101+ fans. If UND had used “University of North Dakota (UND) Sports (or Athletics)” or some variation originally, this situation might not be happening. Remember, you can change the “About” and “Company Overview” at any time, so consider using these for more creative names and information.
Diane Thieke, founder, Simply Talk Media and Mike Schaffer, director of social media, iostudio have both recently helped clients make a Facebook page change. Both advocate a well-developed communications strategy, which should include:
- Clear messaging: Why is a new page needed? What new benefits will it offer?
- A transition timeline: Allow enough time to communicate the change. This can be as little as eight weeks, for a small fan base, up to six months or more for a large following. It is very important to give an end date for when the old page will no longer be updated, and stick to it.
- Integrated marketing: Communicate regularly, and often, through multiple channels (email, newsletters, website, etc.) about the transition. You want to reach as much of your fan base as possible to let them know about the page change.
- A content strategy: Drive people to your new page. For example, post identical content to both pages until the end date is reached, but gradually phase out content on the old page. Eventually, your new page should offer unique information not available elsewhere. Expanded content, like HD video, pictures and polls, will give the new page more value.
- A “like” campaign. Consider offering incentives. For example, you can donate $1 for every “like” to charity. Branded swag can help rebuild the emotional connection. Be sure to promote all campaigns across all channels of communication.
Thieke says, “Remember that social media is a conversation. Respond to the comments on the old page and acknowledge how your fans feel, but avoid engaging in arguments. Often, people just want to know they’re being heard.”
Rebranding is never easy. Schaffer confirms, “The key to remember is that the loyalty isn’t to the name, but to the institution.” If the new Facebook page is going to allow fans, students and alumni to gain information and insight to the teams, then they will make the transition. Eventually, the old name will become less important.
Have you had to change Facebook pages for your organization or a client? Can you share some lessons learned and best practices with the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas readers?