By Mark Bower, Managing Driector, Coolpink
Facebook has become a staple part of marketers' diets. Many brands thrive on the thrill of boosting their likes and, in theory, their popularity, with social media hungry consumers.
However, the recent platform changes have really mixed it up and brands are going to have to work much harder to be seen on individuals’ Facebook newsfeeds.
There have already been changes to content with Facebook leading the way on removing spam marketing and giving more choice to what we view, based on user interaction.
This means that a ‘like’ is no longer enough to ensure followers get every communication brands post, as flat or irrelevant pages will now gain less exposure.
User interaction is the key and the secret…but it’s no easy feat.
Understanding the Rules of the Game
Facebook understands and appreciates the fact that its biggest asset is its audience. Obviously the more buy in from the consumer, the more power they have over advertisers, but it’s a complex chain…
They are now focusing on user engagement, of finding new ways to really get under the skin of their users - and stay there.
The true challenge for brands is to cut the crap, sack off the spam and delete the dross, to sustain visibility with valued relevant content.
So, What For Marketers?
The changes mean that brands need to interact more personally with consumers, encourage more regular communications and find ways to really befriend them.
The next big thing coming from Facebook is the ‘Timeline’ — a virtual scrapbook of your life, which will create a completely new look profile page eventually.
An important element for brands to understand is that the Timeline strives to portray a deeper insight into the users lifestyle, what activities they enjoy, what they aspire to achieve and more crucially from a marketing perspective, what brands are interlinked with their lives. This is powerful information for advertisers, and an important communications channel for brands that are embraced by users.
Retail stores, music and video streaming sites will all gain more exposure through this new way of updating our status as we see what our friends are reading, playing, buying, wanting and listening to more than ever.
There’s an App for that…
The key to utilising the new timeline effectively comes in the form of the facebook app as they will now be given much more prominence. This is especially true across communications, gaming, media and lifestyle categories.
As people use apps to tell the story of what they’re up to throughout their day, so their alignment with brands will grow as they get more used to connecting with them in the online space, and enjoy engaging with them, in everyday life.
It also provides a much bigger stage as brands’ content will now be shown across friends’ networks on a more regular basis.
Apps will be the new vehicle to channel creative brand promotion. We’re going to see much more of friends checking into a store or restaurant when not only can you see where they are, but also what they’ve bought.
You’ll know how far your friend has run thanks to RunKeeper or the Nike Training Club App; what they’ve watched on TV thanks to Virgin Media’s TV Guide review; where they’re going on holiday thanks to Lonely Planet etc etc…Our whole lives could effectively be sponsored… fancy a piece of that?...
There’s a risk of all this being just a bit too obvious though and the clever brands will dig much deeper to engage with users in creative, interactive, useful ways that really do add value. This is when the fun will truly begin.
So the wake up call is: It’s time for brands to forget about being liked, and work out how to start being loved, to get themselves fully wedged into the heart and soul of consumers lives, so they’re not going anywhere in a hurry.
If brands don’t, then those first tentative steps into social media that have been made will be halted pretty damn quickly and consumers will not only loose their appetite for that brand but will end up with a bad taste in their mouths too. It’s time to raise the game or be left behind — challenging but very exciting times!
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