We think there are two very interesting questions that have arisen as a result of this mandatory change. First, why did it happen? And second, what are the most important implications for your brand?
IN A WORD: PROFITS
Facebook is now firmly in IPO territory. That means they have to show greater value. When you look between the lines, Timeline will essentially force brands to purchase more Facebook advertising. Why? Because the most powerful tool available – the ability to have new visitors land on a default page – has been taken away. Which means that thousands of custom-designed ‘Like’ and contest pages can still exist, but only as links under your primary photo on Timeline.
That’s huge. It also means the brands that acquired hundreds of thousands of new fans through fun contests or sweepstakes were very smart – because they got in under the wire. If your brand wants to build a big community now, it’s going to be a lot more expensive. In other words, it’s going to be a model you already recognize – paid media. Facebook itself is even saying it’s not same model anymore.
SO WHAT DO YOU DO AS A RESULT?
We provide specific, custom-tailored solutions for all of our clients, but in very broad strokes here are the best tactics right now:
1) Sponsored Stories. These are much more powerful than standard advertising because they use fan-generated content as the subject of your ads. They also have remarkable advantage of appearing in the primary news feed. Here’s an earlier blog post of ours that’s all about sponsored stories.
2) Think beyond the book. We’re big fans of Pinterest, especially for a female target right now. But don’t forget, YouTube is still getting nearly 20X the viewership that Pinterest does. Now is the time to hire a very capable outside resource to help you develop funny, highly creative videos to help promote your products and brand. Yes, you can still post these on Facebook, and tweet about them ’til the cows come home. But, it’s the pass-along that happens with great work that allows you get much more bang for your buck.
3) Spread social marketing beyond just the person who posts. It’s time to get just about everyone in the company involved in social media. Years ago, Zappos set the standard by having virtually everyone in the company on Twitter. They had a very playful, fun Facebook page. They were an astoundingly successful brand. Tony Hsieh (Zappos CEO) got it. It’s time for your C-level execs to get on board, too. If you like, we’ll help you convince them.
4) The average FB post reaches only 17% of your fans – change that. Yes, this is the ‘sweating the details’ part of your day to day social activity. The goal is to get more likes and comments for ALL of your posts. Here’s an excellent blog on the subject.
Most importantly, it’s time to recognize that social media has now come full circle. Just like all other forms of marketing and advertising, the free ride is essentially over. Find a social agency you trust, and be sure they interact with senior management at your brand. Only when you have budget approval from the top can you enact the kind of strategy and tactics that will make a real difference now.
Facebook succeeded in making brands look ‘just like people’ with Timeline. However, if you want to build the kind of community that will power your brand out of the recession – it’s time to take out your checkbook.