Businesses, brands make fans of Facebook friends and strangers

Advertising & Marketing

South Florida Business Journal – by Jeff Zbar

The YMCA of Broward County regularly e-mails many of its 30,000 members, and sends fliers about news and events. But, administrators wanted an even closer member relationship.

So in July, they created a “fan” page on Facebook. Now, almost 100 people have become fans. Dialogue and the organization’s brand are growing, said Judi Erickson, the YMCA’s director of marketing communications.

“It’s interesting to see the dialogue and activity,” she said. “It’s a good opportunity for members to communicate with each other, and for us to be a resource.”

When Facebook users get the message that someone “suggested you become a fan of” something, what does that mean? For some executives, it means Facebook has become a marketing tool for business.

Social media can empower business branding. But, while LinkedIn and Twitter have obvious business tie-ins for some, Facebook only of late has earned similar appeal. Many organizations, companies and products have created Facebook fan pages so brand loyalists, organization members and those who use the product can share information that’s relevant to the group, said Margo Berman, a professor of advertising at Florida International University.

“It’s a powerful communication device because you know you’re communicating with a highly interested audience,” said Berman, the author of “Street-Smart Advertising: How to Win the Battle of the Buzz” and “The Brains Behind Great Ad Campaigns.” “But, instead of creating commercials or participating in contests, fans are talking about what interests them. They’re posting images, inviting each other to events, and sharing insights.”

For Miami law firm Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine’s 116 fans, the page is a testament to its changing client base, partner Todd Levine said. Tech-savvy and keen for news and information delivered fast, clients and prospects are prone to engage in a more personal dialogue with the firm, as opposed to the firm “simply distributing information,” he said.  The law firm is a client of Schwartz Media Strategies, a Miami-based public relations and marketing firm.

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“Social media also lets us showcase the more human side of our law firm, our values, people and culture,” he said. “We may be recognized as strong litigators in the courtroom, but social media vehicles provide a window into who we are.”

Argo Digital Solutions’ five-month-old fan page has tallied 191 fans, who read about technology updates, distribution deals and industry news, and watch company videos, said Jason Kates, founder and CEO of the digital out-of-home media company. The page also helps Argo strengthen its brand when prospective clients or partners perform due diligence about the company, he said.

“Before anyone engages your services or even begins a serious conversation, they will thoroughly check out you and your company’s work, credibility and reputation,” Kates said. “Facebook is usually on the first page of those searches.”

Updating a fan page can be labor intensive, said the YMCA’s Erickson, who invests about an hour a week, with the goal of posting about a dozen updates a month.

Hollywood attorney David W. Singer, who spends an hour or two a day on Facebook, has more than 350 fans.

“Many are friends, some are strangers … people beyond my normal reach,” he said.

Posting requires a sensitivity and discretion. Tom Moleta, president of Miami ad shop Turbulence, was recently set to hire a prospective creative director for a project. When Moleta saw pictures of the man’s partying ways on Facebook, he decided to hire someone else.

“It’s interesting to me that people divulge so much personal stuff on Facebook,” he said.

Added Levine: “Social media is a great way to communicate with our target audiences, so long as we are communicating the right information.”


A fan page can be set up either as part of an individual user’s account, or as its own account. To set up a fan page, go to Facebook and log in, or create an account.

At the bottom left corner of the screen, click the Group icon (with an image of two people). Click on Create a Group on the right side of the page. Then, scroll down to Select Category. Choose “Just for Fun.” Then, right next to that, see Select Type. Choose “Fan Clubs.” | (954) 346-4393