20 Great Facebook Pages: Spam or Slam? (suggested solutions included)

by Lori Taylor · 15 comments

facebook branding, marketing, marketing strategies

Are Brands Using Facebook To Be The Coupon Du Jour?

Recently the brilliant mad marketing scientists at Hubspot came out with a post called 20 Great Examples of Facebook pages. I couldn’t click fast enough to get my fill of the latest and greatest, only to be left scratching my head.

Don’t get me wrong, the brands listed such as Harley, McDonald’s and Zappos are undoubtedly leading the pack in social media.

Their pages are sexy, no doubt.  Add in their massive media buying budgets and you don’t have to be Nancy Drew to know how they are signing up fans click after click. But, then what?

Is there a chance they might just be robbing Peter to pay Paul ?

Are these 20 brands using the incredible opportunity of social media to truly optimize their new traffic source with a tone and purpose that might actually drive more traffic and sales as a result?

Do their fans at Facebook love them any more than the ones who met them in the newspaper?

Remember… “Popularity is vanity. Sales are sanity. It’s up to you to decide how crazy you can afford to be.

As a direct response marketer with over 20 years experience working with brands such as Charmin, Puffs, Crest, Tide, Kroger, and online clients like Microcenter, I know there is tremendous room for improvement to tie these efforts to more tangible results. Even softer benefits like building brand affinity and brand reach could be incorporated into the campaign strategy for these promotions much better.

If you want to leverage every dollar you spend, reject the urge to go for the the quick return of just the wow factor.

Create a page that actually performs both in terms of profit, gets you some action outside of Facebook while increasing the customer’s preference for the product or service.  Don’t just slap an iframe or XFBML dress on a coupon and call yourself innovative, gleefully waiting for the coffers to overflow.

The point is, these big brands (most of them) have great ideas, but I feel many of them miss the mark to get more than one action at a financial cost they didn’t need Facebook’s platform to incur in the first place.

Why not take full benefit of your Facebook page to truly build rapport?

Sure you can hook them with a promotion, contest or coupon, but also have a long term plan so you aren’t just rewarding coupon chasers with new cherries to pick every month.

Find a way to turn your crowd at Facebook into customers who will talk to you anywhere without having to pay high rental rates at Facebook if you want your campaign results to sizzle!

Check out these suggested improvements and vote “Spam or Slam?” (I’d really like to hear your ideas too!)


1. Skittles

“Friend the Rainbow”.

That’s it.

Just be friends with the rainbow (it’s not even a Double Rainbow).


Out of curiously I clicked and saw a person had won a full size vending machine the week before, which would be cool for the right person.

But why not simply be a tad more compelling with a more clear call to action including a direct benefit to the consumer by saying, “Friend the Rainbow To Win Your Pot Of Gold?”

Maybe they decided to trick me into liking them or thought being coy would be so intriguing I’d jump on the chance to ‘like’ them to find out more? (It’s candy people.)

All kidding aside, there is a very good chance they might get a higher conversion rate by letting the cat out of the bag before they asked for something from me.  It’s too easy for me to say no when I have no idea what they have to offer.

There’s a reason they say curiosity killed the cat, and it can just as easily kill the click too, if you aren’t careful.



With a simple and catchy phrase “Let’s Be In A Like-Like Relationship” and a simple explanation of the exclusive deals I’ll get in return, Zappos has a great page with a solid plan that’s most likely working very well.

They put only ONE ask directly in my face, and clearly wrote out the benefit to taking action – it’s old school and I like it!

Just keep in mind, while this is still a great page, being to the point doesn’t mean you can’t be sexy too.

In this case, they could have spiced it up slightly by letting me  know how special I will be by choosing to like their brand and becoming a “secret insider”, getting access to exclusive content I can’t get anywhere else!”

And bam! I’d be sold.. (full disclosure:  I’m a shoe addict and they did have me at hello...)

Zappos is one of the best known and well liked brands online, so if I had to give one, my only tweak would be to “sexify” the why by saying, ” and we’ll tell you all our secrets too (including exclusive deals just for our fans, shhh!)”


3. McDonald’s

Clearly McDonald’s has taken this as an opportunity for them to talk about…oatmeal.


Now I don’t know about you, but while that might be very healthy and green of them, like most of the other busy mothers, I’m going to McDonald’s because I’m in a hurry and someone in my car (sometimes me) wants fries.

How do you super size oatmeal?

And even if you can, who wants to? No one gets in a long line for oatmeal – ever (even if you like it).

Not only are they using their page to advertise and introduce a questionable product, but then they jumble it up with a game at the bottom, leaving me wondering what I’m supposed to do.

Am I supposed to eat oatmeal or play a game?  Or should I eat oatmeal while playing the game?  Or I know! Maybe I play the game and WIN oatmeal?

Why didn’t they just give away free bowls of oatmeal for liking their page and playing their game? Wouldn’t that make more sense?

Oh yeah, right…no one wants to win a bowl of oatmeal.

And while you might be thinking, yeah, but they still have over 10 million fans, they must be doing something right, I think it’s also fair to take a minute to imagine what they might get if they actually made sense on their page and told people what to do.

Think about what they could do for the Ronald McDonald Foundation by asking me to Supersize my heart and buy a “happy meal” at 50% for someone who needs it, donating the money instead.

Of course, if they are hell bent on selling oatmeal, maybe they could create a campaign called “Good-bye Fries, Hello Thighs”.

They could run a Jared/Subway campaign letting me get points or get fancy power ups whenever I order a healthy item or check into a store.  Each week they could send me a new challenge to check out at Facebook or they could send it to me on my mobile phone.

Get creative.  You’d be surprised how you can drive your customer to action with the right incentive (even to eat oatmeal, as long as it makes “cents”.)

4. Harley Davidson

Oh my – how many calls to action can you have in one place?

Find a dealer? Determine cost? Read your history? Learn To Ride?

Sorry guys, you’re cool, but you’ve given me too many choices with too little time.

And quite frankly, it doesn’t look fun, so who cares?

Really, Harley…throwing something against the wall to see what sticks only works well when playing darts, and even then you need to aim.

Take this opportunity to connect with your brand. Put your soul back into the hearts of the people.

How about putting up a welcome page that simply says “Harley Davidson Putting The Heart Back Into America.” Like us, too, and we’ll give you a reason to ride every day of your life!

Then offer your fans a choice of cool screensavers based on photos the fans submit and everyone votes on with the best ones being turned into screensavers by Harley (think Threadless for screensavers).

Take this engagement with your fans as an opportunity to really connect, not sell. And get into the real inbox, not the one Facebook owns!

5.  iTunes

Four choices, 1 second.

What do you do?

You probably just ‘like’ iTunes on brand recognition alone, in the hopes it will might turn into something later and then just forget about it.

Apple should take this opportunity to prospect hard with ONLY the offer for the 10 free tunes for the ‘like’ right now. Get rid of the other stuff – too much friction!

Once they get the like, a tab could easily appear that says “Congrats! You can gift 10 songs to 5 friends by entering  their email addresses here.  And we’ll send you 1 song for each friend who accepts the gift.”

Now that’s a hot Apple!

Let your Fan Page spread the word for you and give them a solid reason why they should help you connect to their friends, then you can build your email list even bigger and take over the world. (Or at least not have to depend on the democracy of Facebook as much.)


6. Doritos

This one has me baffled.

Their copy, which is simple and a great start, is not worded well enough so you know what they actually want you to do (nowhere does it imply you can watch cool extreme videos which is what happens once you like them).

It says “Congrats to our winners. You saw them on TV. Now see them here again.” That’s it.  Yawn.

Isn’t that why I have TIVO so I don’t have to see the same commercial over and over again?

How about asking people to vote on the commercials again and be a producer for a day? “Enter At Your Own Risk:  Dare To Change Your Destiny.”

Doritos should ask the new fans how would they can improve on the commercial finalists or the winner, turn that into a contest and let people vote – people love to be Monday morning quarterbacks. This way Doritos can leverage some of what has already been done and build on it with new user generated content in the process.

This approach will stretch the brand much further and keeps your audience talking past your 15 seconds of fame.

7. Best Buy

A simple ask with the contest right in your face: “Upgrade Our Commercial.” Pretty clear, which is good…as long as you tell me what I get for playing.

The problem is there is nothing on the landing page to tell you what’s in it for you.

Yet at the top of the page under the ‘like’ button they randomly state in small copy, something VERY COOL that is too easy to miss.  Being 1 winner out of millions for a contest is fine, but being able to return my old TV I bought last year for up to a 50% value to buy a new one?  Now that’s worth talking about.

Which campaign do you think puts more money directly into their pocket, quickly?

“Upgrade your TV on us”, for sure! Because buyers will come in to buy the TV and if Best Buy does their job, they’ll leave with a whole bunch of other stuff they don’t need.

If I was Best Buy that’s a story I would want everyone telling on my behalf.

The Best Buy landing page should be screaming, “You can get more money back from your old TV than you ever will for your car. Want to know more? ‘Like’ us to find out how you can turn your old into gold at Best Buy. We upgrade you for LIFE.”

After you get the ‘like’, THEN ask them to play your contest to win a new TV which ties into your initial value proposition in the first place. Even with social media, it’s a numbers game and  there are way more cherry pickers out there than fame hounds.

Give them more offers like that and you’ll cut your TV advertising budget in half because everyone will be talking about it and coming to your page each week wondering what you’ll do next!

8. Porsche

They had a great idea to play off the Groupon concept.

Basically you can ‘like’ their page, create a customized car of your choice and create a “web deal.” But the problem is, you don’t know any of that BEFORE you click the ‘like’.

If they would place the big idea on the first layer by adding the copy, “Calling All Porsche Fans – It’s Up To You To Create Our Deal Of A Lifetime! Like us to create the car of your dreams – get your friends to ride along and you’ll all win online – click here to learn more” they would have a better chance of getting people talking and sharing.

Again, does it cost them any more to create a call to action more compelling and clear than it is now?  No.

What they are trying to do is innovative, but you have to try too hard to figure it out.



9. Kaplan SAT

What do practice tests, $499 dollar product and Newsweek have in common?

Anyone? Anyone? Ferris?


The truth is once you ‘like’ them you can play a daily challenge quiz against your friends on Facebook and still study for the SAT – how cool is that?

And the Newsweek clip happens to be a free guide they want to give to you, but you wouldn’t know that until you spent a minute or two trying to figure out what you get in exchange for your Facebook ‘like’.

Why wouldn’t they lead on the home page with Daily Quiz game and note the free guide below just for liking Kaplan?

Then, once they get the ‘like’, they can ask for the email address and send the guide, putting them in the KAPLAN sales funnel, not Facebook’s.

It could be the best of both worlds.

10.  Red Bull

I saved the best for last.

I really like the simplicity. They get it.  Almost.

But if the value add coming after the ‘like’ is to watch extreme videos, isn’t there a better way to capitalize on this?

Just simply saying “What Extremes Would Make You Scream? Like Us To Find Out (we triple dog dare you)” would be a stronger attention grabber.

After which the fan is asked to choose the one video of an activity they would NEVER do, not even on a triple dog dare!

Then if Red Bull really wanted to amp it up and go for the big win, they ask their new fan to recommend one fearless friend who would take this dare in a minute.  If their friend’s name is drawn they’ll either have the chance to participate in the video they were nominated for, or  if they get the most votes they will win the title “The Most Fearless Man In The World”.

The big brands have come a long way, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do better things – hopefully you can take a look at your page and ask yourself if you are getting what you need from your strategy.

Stay tuned for the next Spam or Slam review of 10 more Facebook campaigns to be published next week.

In the meantime, check out Hubspot’s post to see what all the fuss is about. Just click here.

Lori Taylor


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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Kevin March 12, 2011 at 2:05 am

Hmmm, Skittles must have changed their Facebook page. I remember when it first came out / was re-designed there was a huge hoo ha about it?


Lori Taylor March 15, 2011 at 8:43 am

Yes – they have great campaigns etc – but they are missing out on website and landing page optimization with direct response call to action – they could do even more! I love what they do though.


Chris March 12, 2011 at 8:43 am

I never get tired of visiting this site since it never fails to amuse me while reading.Actually this is the 2nd post that I’ve read today and I will keep on reading. I love the mcdonald part which is really is confusing for me as well.


James March 13, 2011 at 9:48 am

I love this one too – awesome stuff


Patrick March 14, 2011 at 8:45 am

I was looking for this information – glad to have found it here – keep up good work


Monique Ramsey March 15, 2011 at 9:31 am

Loved it all! I can’t wait for next week’s edition! 🙂


Lori Taylor March 16, 2011 at 8:46 am

Thanks Monique you lifted my spirits at Facebook – when you are first starting to really get your content out – well you know – glad you and my mom take time to comment 🙂


Dan M March 24, 2011 at 6:41 am

Love it! Please accept my entry into your Free BMW Giveaway;)


Tia March 24, 2011 at 10:40 am

Lori – Tons of great insight here. I’m so glad that for once, someone is actually talking about financial return when it comes to social media marketing. Who’da thought!?

I take issue with your oatmeal slam. LOL I HAVE personally gone through the McDonald’s drive-thru just to get the oatmeal. More than once. Not kidding.


The KAPLAN SAT page – your insight is dead on. It seems like maybe they are testing approaches, or have ADD. Not sure.

You’ve given great (and valuable) advice to these companies free. Hopefully you get some return!



Susan Webster Adams March 24, 2011 at 11:05 am

Great article! Fantastic insight and suggestions. I need to figure out how to make a welcome page for our Facebook page that really grabs people.


Gordon Rodgers March 24, 2011 at 11:06 am


Excellent, looks like 20 winners to me. Great creative call to action in each and every one. Take a look at Zappos typo, know for known, Harley yo for you, and iTunes gift for give. You are writing as fast as you can talk.

PS) You again proved, more is better, I read and hung your every word. Thank’s for challenging the existing creative on these great companies and sharing.
PPS) Be sure to copy-write protect your marketing treatment. When your campaign is stolen by less creative agency’s in place,you can collect dividends and recognition.


Mkpelland January 30, 2012 at 2:01 pm

I was hooked by your headline and lead. Your typos, bad punctuation, and strange sentence structure made me leave before I finished reading. Why, oh why don’t people read what they write before they hit “post”? Please?


dec June 25, 2013 at 4:50 am

huh? i didn’t proof-read but i wasn’t struck by any typos or glaring syntax errors.


dec June 25, 2013 at 4:52 am

well, i was impressed and i didn’t expect to be. 🙂 lots of good ideas and imagination.


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