The Facebook ecosystem is now the most important marketing space for you and your brands. Unfortunately, most brands are not giving this area enough attention and budget.
Facebook’s strategy was simple and elegant. Build functionality that users find compelling. Get a billion of them. Evolve a symbiotic relationship with brands. Give them free space ( the Fan Page) and free media (the Newsfeed). Smart brands jumped on the opportunity and built large communities of fans.
Through dialogue, brands increased loyalty. They implemented business initiatives such as Social Loyalty, Social CRM and Social Customer Support. StarHub for example pioneered this in Singapore. Brands developed content strategies to exploit the free ride to reach their audience
Like all innovations, things evolved. Brands killed the golden goose! Majority of brands pumped either below average content or regurgitated ATL material. Users perceived this content to be irrelevant. Facebook changed their algorithm leading to lower organic reach for non-engaging content. If we had a dollar for every time we were asked to post a TVC on Facebook, we’d be very rich indeed!
This is just a rerun of the last incarnation of Content Marketing. We knew it then as ‘email marketing’ and the ‘e-Newsletter’. Back in the days, consumers jumped into email as the new revolution. Brands built email databases and blasted marketing material to serve their own agenda. It got so bad that media providers like YahooMail, Hotmail, Gmail invested in technology to protect their users. This led to the birth of SPAM filters and the Junk Mail button.
People around the world are now spending more time online (smartphone + tablet + laptop) than watching TV. This has led to marketers shifting their attention to digital. We are in an era where this is the new mass media. Millions are spent on interrupting people on the internet. There’s banners, pop-ups, site take overs, pre-role video etc. The mindless intrusion of unconnected ads has led to the growing threat from Ad blocking technology. Ad blocking technology is now reaching 10% (source : AdAge) . 10% may not seem much, but the rate of adoption is accelerating. This is often seen as the tipping point to mass adoption. Ad blocking usage has reached the point where the upcoming release of Safari on the iPhone will allow you to block an ad on mobile too. On the way the browser providers will make ad-blocking even easier for the layman.
As an industry, we have a history of abusing marketing platforms and consumer trust. Brands forget that the marketing world has advanced. It is now permission based unlike Radio, TV & Print. Audiences can choose to block them when they feel frustrated with constant endorsements. Marketers from an ATL only background are finding it hard to make the transition. So where does that leave brands?
Back to where some of them originally started. Refocus on delivering an experience that is good enough to earn a recommendation. Create content and interactions that generate value for the audience. Become consumer centric and join the consumer’s conversation. And of course – never try to force your agenda on them.