Is Facebook A Necessary Evil?
We recently pitched a digital marketing services program to one of our longtime customers. As the discussion moved from demographics to message and we began to discuss marketing platforms, our contact asked if our CPC advertising strategy would include banner advertising. She also asked if our social media engagement would include Facebook. She was familiar with the relevant statistics, so we moved on to social media management.
Facebook was the first platform mentioned. The term social media triggers a reflexive association with Facebook, but why?
Occasionally, customers come to us with the expectation that a marketing team should use every available marketing communications channel as a bullhorn for sales promotion. They want to be heard of course, so they sometimes believe that repeating "buy my product" via social media ultimately compels consumers to click 'buy now.' However as the recent iOS 9 ad blocker release made clear, that is an outmoded and ineffective tactic.
Now back to our customer…she had done her homework. She understood that success on social media platforms doesn't just mean that brands recognize and target their audience. Even more critical is understanding exactly how that audience uses social media.
One of my colleagues then presented a graph illustrating the platforms on which consumers expect to find brands. We talked about the frequent disconnect between what consumers want and how retailers communicate on social media. We talked about banner blindness, and the increasingly ineffectual nature of display advertising…particularly on social networks.
James Del, head of Gawker’s content studio, summed up the general sentiment to Digiday:
“Facebook may be pulling off one of the most lucrative grifts of all time; first, they convinced brands they needed to purchase all their Fans and Likes -- even though everyone knows you can’t buy love; then, Facebook continues to charge those same brands money to speak to the Fans they just bought.”
Research shows that over 80% of all consumers expect brands to have a presence on Facebook. But how does the expectation of "presence on Facebook" inform marketing strategy and content development?
The key is in turning your understanding of Facebook (and social media in general) away from an advertising platform, and treating it more like a news, education and entertainment channel. Consumers also expect to resolve customer service issues. Facebook rewards prompt replies to customer inquiries (average >5 minutes over 7 days).Consumers visiting Facebook are there to be informed, enlightened and yes – entertained.
So like content marketing, social media marketing needs to be topical, and it needs to be current. Above all, it needs to be useful to your audience in order to be attractive, and it must be attractive to be effective.
Our well-informed customer readily agreed with this strategy. Most importantly: while it's still true that social network interactions rarely lead directly to conversions, our customers' brand recognition and online sales have never been stronger.