the grass is greener on the internet

How not to advertise on facebook
September 1, 2008, 12:53 am
Filed under: 1 | Tags: , , ,

Sometimes I feel like people promoting on facebook really aren’t looking at their OWN usage of facebook.

Facebook is great for marketing research, yes. There’s this huge mine of personal data that marketers can access (with user permission of course). There’s a huge variety of content that you can produce on the site, and it’s completely FREE. But nobody seems to have gotten to grips with how to use it for promotions and it’s sparking a huge debate online.

[If you want to skip the rant, my recommendations are at the bottom. :)]

This really annoys me, because I did a brief on this for a client last year, and I could have told you what so many people are apparently just discovering. And it’s all from observing how I use facebook, and how my friends use it (that mini-feed thing is just so handy).

There’s the obvious ‘traditional’ methods – ads, fan pages. When was the last time you really looked at a facebook ad? Did you click on it? Didn’t think so. When was the last time you visited the page of something you’re a fan of? Didn’t think so either.

Pretty much the only thing fan pages do is create or increase name awareness from being displayed on profiles. It had better be an interesting name (to make them click on the page) or be really self-evident (explanatory, or famous). There was a pretty thorough analysis of this on No Man’s blog.

Same goes for groups – my client kept going on about how many people joined their promotional group. It doesn’t mean they give a shit. They just clicked a link, and you got your name on their profile. It now has to compete with other groups on their profiles, like “Jane just lost her phone and needs all of your numbers now!” and “I Have Worked In Retail, And Thus Have Lost All Faith In Humanity”. Great placement. The only redeeming factor for promoting using groups is that you can send messages to the entire group, or create an event.

IMHO:: The biggest sins an advertiser can commit on facebook (or any other social media, actually)

  1. be intrusive without adding value (ie. SPAM)
  2. allow users to be passive receivers of information (ie. ads, fan pages)
  3. assume that users will keep interacting with you if you stop interacting with them (ie. non-updated information pages)

So you’re probably wondering, if I’m going to criticise everyone else, what’s my answer?

  • Facebook is about interacting with your friends, and procrastinating. You need to give them a way to interact with your brand whilst doing one of those two.
  • The movie Wall-E used the Gifts application to allow users to give each other a Wall-E unit. In fact, someone gave one to me. They had no idea what it was, but the curiosity from that will lead to recognition when they see the ads for the movie’s release. (I don’t know how much Pixar paid for this.)
  • Scrabble is pretty boring and dead…or that’s what I thought until I discovered Scrabulous. It’s a pity they sued and got the application removed, because it stimulated renewed interest in the brand. Sure, you can’t make money out of it and it was competing with their online version, but surely instead of destroying all of that brand equity you can find a way to tap into it? (Scrabulous, RIP – 5 points.)
  • Some advertisers, like nightclubs, have found it more effective to create an actual user profile (even if you’re not meant to). 1) Your photos and events show up on mini-feeds. 2) You can create more of a personality for your brand that has credibility. 3) You can interact; poke, SuperPoke, send messages, post on walls…

Why don’t advertisers get creative? Make mystery gifts or bumper stickers. Create an application that is fun and stimulates interaction with your brand. The normal rules don’t apply; isn’t that what you’ve been waiting for?

  • Facebook is content-rich and you need to earn the attention you get by being credible and interesting.
  • It all depends on your product and associated brand experience, but there’s a LOT of untapped potential there if you just stop thinking about consumers and start thinking about prosumers.

That’s my rant for the day.

[I’m looking at doing a survey based on my friends’ profile pages; most common type of content to be found on a profile, and where information-transfer interactions occur. It might help advertisers determine what type of content is most effective for them to create. If you’re interested in being involved, comment or email me (katherine dot liew at gmail dot com).]


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[…] @ 9:58 pm Tags: advertising, facebook, online advertising Continuing on the topic of facebook advertising, I was just debating today whether or not Facebook is a separate culture that you could study […]

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