Facebook-savvy brands that might surprise you

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Can it just be about entertainment?
Sometimes the best opportunity for brands online is to simply provide some entertainment and education to their communities. Adobe is another brand that wouldn't seem like a natural fit for Facebook because it has other active community sites where users solve problems and share tips. Last year, however, Adobe created a fun experience for its community that presented fans with a series of images and asked them if they were "real" or "fake" (i.e., manipulated with Adobe's software). If a particular photo had been "faked," a tutorial showed how it had been done.

In this case, Adobe realized there was a community on Facebook that it was not reaching through its other channels -- namely, college students. The company used its Facebook experience to engage these new users and provide them with information about deep discounts that were available to students enrolled in college programs. The mix of fun, education, and promotional information effectively grew the brand's community base to more than 42,000 fans.

The takeaway
There is no shortage of unlikely brands finding success on Facebook by driving brand awareness, lead generation, engagement, and sales. And, as these are still relatively early days, there are still many opportunities for brands to think outside of the box and create new experiences.

In many ways, the biggest challenge is matching a community need against a solution that fits with your brand and into your larger social strategy. Brands that are looking for more inspiration should visit the Facebook Preferred Developer list. Sprout was one of only a handful of companies that launched with this program back in 2009, and there are now almost 50 companies there today.

Roland Smart is senior director of marketing for Sprout.

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