Has Facebook alienated dull brands?
Facebook has always been about driving engagement, the problem they’ve had over the past few years is that their mechanism for engagement hasn’t gone much further than the inflexible ‘Like’ button, a share, or, if you’re lucky, a comment or two. This was great while it lasted, but it did open brands pages up for social media black hat techniques.
We’ve seen a well-known socially irrelevant brand up their likes by 5,000 in the space of a week and take unprecedented engagement from people, that if you investigate, either work for their PR agency, or are praising the price of a product they’re ineligible to purchase.
All very naughty and not in the spirit of organic brand growth.
Well, the days of being judged by how many times you can coerce someone into a one off like are in the process of abolition. Likes will still be relevant, only if you pay attention to the ticker in the top right hand corner of your screen and jeez, who pays attention to that? Not me!
A brands goal now is to integrate with Facebook’s new Timeline / Open Social Graph. They’ve opened up the ‘like’ to be any verb a brand so wishes, so now, a travel company could opt for ‘visited’ to be their new ‘like’ and the object could be a destination, say Scarborough. The idea being that developers could build a travel app that sits in your timeline and documents where you travelled in 2011 and if you fancied it, you could back date it over the past five years and keep a record of all your holidays snaps in a branded holiday scrap book (Scarborough beach never looked so grand).
This is fantastic, Facebook are effectively forcing major brands to make themselves useful if they want to be part of our lives. The Mark Zuckerberg vision realised (from the very start, even when Facebook was struggling for revenue, he was notorious for refusing advertising offers that impinged on the user experience).
However, this has put many brands in a sticky situation. What if your brand can’t inspire mass engagement? What if you can’t think of a way to integrate your toothpaste product into a consumer’s timeline? What then? Have Facebook alienated all but the most exciting, well-funded brands, from their platform?
Yes and no is the answer. It’s all about figuring out how to make your brand relevant. Being a manufacturer of cookers doesn’t limit you to conversation around the efficiency of your flame safety device. You could instead engage with people’s diet plans with a recipe app that clocks your calorie intake and promotes oven cooked food over microwave alternative (I know, a very cliché example, but this isn’t a pitch!).
Facebook doesn’t alienate boring brands; it alienates lazy and tired ideas. If you can’t be bothered to make yourself relevant, then join the ticker in the top right hand corner with the rest of the irrelevant drivel. Facebook has shaken up the game again, fat lazy brands beware, you’re going to have to put in a lot more effort if you’ve got designs on peoples newsfeed real estate.