Social by Design: Facebook’s Future for Social Brands – three points for success

I’m just back from Earl’s Court and Internet World expo where Jonathan Harvey, UK Sales Manager at Facebook, gave a keynote speech on the future for social brands.

He called it ‘Social by Design’ and it looked at what Facebook has in store for brands looking to maximise their marketing within its ubiquitous social network and he concluded with three simple points that are key to success in social marketing.

Social media is fundamentally changing the way we use the Internet

This may not be headline news to all of you, but Harvey made the point that social networking truly is changing everything.  From retail sites that now offer social sharing integration and peer reviews / user-generated content (UGC) to sites maximising the opportunity to ‘share’ pieces of information, social is becoming (if not already) ingrained within digital technology and websites.

This has also given rise to the conglomeration of recommendations.  Increasingly, we are utilising our online and virtual networks to actively seek out trusted referral opportunities – and social is the main enabler of this.

Unsurprisingly, our online behaviour is changing according to this, as we can see from our behavioural evolution online:

1990’s – browse
2000’s – search
2010’s – DISCOVER

Harvey said that in the 2010s, we have entered an age of DISCOVERY – and social networks / peer recommendations are where the majority of us discover new things, be it new products, tickets, events, cool websites, social memes or the latest news.

Industries and businesses are changing their entire organisations to facilitate social media

Social media is not a passing fad – as stated above, social has facilitated a substantial cultural shift in the very way we communicate.  Organisations realise that the way they do business, sell to consumers, target customers, create brand advocates – all of this has to adapt to the new social web.

Industries are now transforming by organising their entire business AROUND PEOPLE. Businesses are becoming SOCIAL BY DESIGN. Display advertising online has always been good for brand awareness, but social media allows an authentic, two-way dialogue between businesses and their customers.

Microsites are a thing of the past: one needs only to look at the number of businesses that drive traffic to Facebook pages to realise that this shift is fundamental, it’s happening NOW and it really is the future.

Recommendations are INFLUENCING consumer behaviour

Harvey stated that the traditional marketing steps towards purchase have now had an extra layer weaved in due to social media.  This has changed from an old, static, on-way flow with a defined beginning and an end, to an unending circle of consumer behaviour and influence:

BEGINNING Awareness –> Interest –> Decision –> Action END

However, the Social Web has ushered in a new ‘cycle’ of marketing engagement:

Needless to say, we can see that the power of social recommendation ensures that the consumer marketing cycle is now a continuous loop, allowing brands much more access to consumers rather than this typically ending at the point of purchase.

Key points?

Harvey concluded that brands and businesses need to be aware of three simple points if they are to succeed in social marketing:

1. People first; content second – this is paramount!
2. Make sharing simple and fast – A FEW CAN ACTIVATE MANY
3. Your friends are there – trusted peer-to-peer recommendations – more value than ‘traditional’ one-way marketing communications

So where do we go from here?

Social media is everywhere: it has fundamentally changed the way we behave online and integrating social into marketing strategy is essential for success.  Marketing now consists of:

i) PAID MARKETING (posters, adverts etc.)
ii) OWNED MARKETING (websites etc.)
iii) EARNED MARKETING (traditionally word-of-mouth / PR – now hugely SOCIAL)

As part of this new digital integration, it is vital that businesses and brands maximise their social activity using the following simple steps:

BUILD your brand following
AMPLIFY your following and make use of friends of your advocates – reach
ENGAGE – this is fundamental to success

Conclusion

For many of you, these findings won’t come as a surprise per se; but the significance of social media and its influence on the fundamental way we communicate cannot be underestimated.

My key finding from this session?

Do not think about how you can fit social media into your business: think about how your business can fit into social media.

@callumsaunders, Digital Marketing Manager, the Stopgap Group