When u blog, u don’t hear from anybody.
By which I mean, people don’t comment - apart from cyborg half spam robot half rogue virus spreader : possibly half person.
So while u may hear from Sam Worthington’s United States of Tara alter ego social media spammer; You don’t hear from Real People.
Real People meaning those “Fans” that login with Facebook Connect and click Like.
And if The ZuckerShip has it’s way : You will be able to extend Fanship and liking to the broader internet.
But when u stop blogging, u do hear from people about it. You hear more from them, than when u r blogging.
“You aren’t blogging is everything OK?”
“Well I update on Twitter 10 times a day to 2,000 people - if u include the spam/social 140 character generating cyborgs - Doesn’t that count rather than long form blogging like it’s 2006 ?”
“I guess so” they respond, unconvinced.
When u aren’t blogging often it means other things are happening too. You may actually be busy with work. With life. But u also may not.
It may just be that ur annoyed with Wordpress - combined with a buggy Firefox - for eating your last few blog posts that may have taken hours.. but supposed html errors prevented from publishing.
And fact is channels like Twitter and Facebook are pretty damn compact. Powerful and quick. They also fit perfectly into the - is that the internet in your ipad-touch-phone-berry or ru just happy 2C me ?
Who needs to make an argument anyway.
Long form discussion papers on Why Australia Just Doesn’t Get Startups. or Why Conroy is a Bigger Tool Than Palin. And The Bloggers vs Journos : Taking the iPad into your own Conversational Brand Narrative Posts, just aint as fun as they used to be.
For some reason tho, and I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this. But I’ve been wanting to write a little bit more (but not too much) on the non April Fools title of this post; Facebook Fan Pages Should Tell a Brand Story.
My very basic confession is I think there is a marketing opportunity on Facebook.
Naff I know.
I’m all for the classical search engine behaviourial economics model - that 30% of those 85% of all searches who enter google dot com : go there with a commercial intent in mind; To research, compare, buy.
And thus with a self service built ad engine utilising an auction mechanism to connect buyers and sellers - has created tens of billions of increasing dollars for Google’s founders, backers, employees, alumni who start new companies that get funded first, and acquired in the same order : Sometimes back to google. Sometimes to their first real competitor - Facebook.
Google like Yellowpages before it, has never really had much of a brand proposition for sellers in the way that Free to Air TV has it’s audience captive for ad breaks full of 15-30-60 second TVCs. Or even the next wave product placement such as the iPad in last nite’s Modern Family - in which an episode is based around the release of a new product. Or Gaga including parodies of Product Placement for companies she recently joined as ambassador.
So Facebook, following the Build it and the IPO or Trade Sale will come, has not had to do too much in the organic building of revenue in the way google did at a similar stage; Anecdotally- Facebook make hundreds of millions from a Microsoft advertising arrangement, and similarly substantial amounts from Social App Gaming Powerhouse - Zynga.
Which brings me to the longer than a tweet post I wanted to make about Facebook and it’s non charging for Fan Pages for brands and businesses.
Facebook does not charge a business to have a Fan Page. It does charge to “advertise” the page within Facebook, but it costs nothing for the page’s real estate.
Facebook also does not charge for what could be freemium analytics or campaign stats, that they call Facebook Insights.
Facebook Insights can be immediately fascinating due to the additional demographic information provided- Sex and Age breakdowns of the “Fans” of the brand page.
The benefit of Facebook is that as relatively “normal” people use it : And as it grows the normalisation (anecdotally) appears to get more and more normal; From being a Harvard hookup geek site; To university students around the world; To available to anyone over 13 years or so; With an email address and a real name they are willing to use on the site.
So while Facebook may or may not be annoying as a consumer, that it is made up of people u went to primary school with, that want to “reconnect” even if not really “communicate” in “real time” - In aggregate - given Facebook also has a sizeable quantity of end users (75% of Australia’s Internet audience or 8.7M unique monthly users in Australia I remember Nielsen research saying or 7.9m maybe?) this provides advertisers and brands with both reach and context.
In some cases then it’s easy for a business to fit into the Facebook world.
1. High involvement products can focus on the heavily research focused buyer… that is looking at all sources of online information before buying. They can fill their fan pages with product photos, videos, specs, informations, reviews, links + let the prospective buyer immerse themselves deep in the products superior attributes. Consumer electronics, tech gadgets, automotive and other retail related categories : Homewares/department store products for example should be locking in Facebook realestate and dumping their ecatalogues quicker than a search engine marketer can snapup an in demand parked domain.
2. Services requiring real world interaction can embrace Social CRM principles and use Facebook as front line support for customer queries. Why wait on the phone for 45 minutes on your lunch break. Planning and Executing a holiday, I’m sure Facebook will become a major hub for leisure and travel decisions over the next 5 years.
3. Fashion, Fast Moving Consumer Goods, Softdrinks, Fastfood, Alcohol and other “Low Involvement” as marketers dub the less impactful consumer decisions that dont’ require u working for the next 25 years and allocating 35%+ of the associated income to cover the “investment” - are going to shift a large portion of their budget here very quickly.
So let me repeat - at this moving well beyond 140 characters and into the multi-hundred word essay - the title of this post : Facebook Fan Pages Should Tell a Brand Story.
I’m particularly interested for this post in (above numbered) Point 3 re “Low Involvement” products and associated brands; Interested because
- #1 high involvement research based products (buying a home, getting a loan, car purchase) where the marketer via social media needs to provide information/insight etc and coordinate optimum retail purchase- seems obvious if not yet executed well…
- While #2 - “Services” whether it be travel industry, branchless banks, tech support for your isp/broken mobilephone/question for your broker etc - also seems a Typical CRM/Call Centre model - but applied to online social networks.
What I’m interested in is the “Glass and a Half of Full Cream Dairy Milk” type brands… and how their stories can be told, for business benefit, via social media, specifically Facebook Fan Pages.
So we all remember growing up and there would be TVC’s for whatever chocolate bar.. or whatever amazing scientific experiment that made Cadbury chocolate the best family choice when doing the supermarket shopping.
When I started my first job out of uni/marketing degree and working at DDB in St Kilda Road Melbourne… one of the clients was Cadbury Schweppes. Now this was 1995 : There wasn’t much of anything when it came to online advertising. In fact it was tailend of CD-Rom/Information Superhighway as it collided with new fangled Internet WWW.
I still remember being told when assessing what “new media opportunities” there were for Cadbury on the internet that “You can’t push (or eat) a chocolate bar down a telephone line.”
It’s true. But now when u start to see the kind of numbers that YouTube does… and as traditional above the line “brand” advertisers.. do their best to build brand cache via the online video channel, rather than look like a dickhead and erode it; Facebook Fan Pages look like a channel where the advertiser can go right back to original brand stories. And tell them from scratch to their target consumer.
Now I know this sounds like a typical green-eyed Conversational Marketing Pitch. And dont worry I have a little bit of sick in my mouth typing these words.
But let’s try and keep it simple. Laurel Papworth has a great list of the top 150 or so Australia Facebook Fan Pages for businesses and brands.
I won’t in this post breakdown the types of brands, their categories, what they are doing right or wrong… but what interests me is a word as almost overused as “conversational” or “conversations” or “community” as it relates to a “dialogue” with consumers… is that of a brand being “authentic”.
Brand authenticity is often mentioned in a marketing/advertising brief or plan. But it’s execution seems to be what determines whether you are “authentic”.
Working in the alcohol space as it relates to social media for example over the past year or two : And alot of the great authentic uses of social media - Both Facebook and Twitter... are the micro-breweries, such as Red Hill Brewery - which is a couple kilometres from where I live. There are other examples such as Stone and Wood in Byron Bay, as well as Effen Beer.
In this case authenticity may be easier to achieve for the micro-breweries as the person taking the photo of the Hops picking session, uploading it to Facebook, tweeting it - is also the Master Brewer; Quite possibly The Founder of the Business; A Part Owner.
And their whole livelihood is based on the success of their business. Which came as a result of passion and lifelong experience in the space.
So to be authentic for such people - it would be harder not to be. Such people are not moderating themselves. Worried about who they will offend. Not trying to remember what the line is from the latest campaign is. Or thinking about which agency is doing which creative for which brand.
But this is what makes the small examples such good case studies for the larger brands wanting to “Connect” to a new audience. And the Facebook fan pages like setting up a blog or twitter account, is a blank white and blue canvas from which a brand and its varied stakeholders can start from to tell it’s story.
Rather than be a campaign... Social Media is ongoing.. pretty much into infinity. The lack of start and end dates is quite confronting… It also makes quoting work hard ! But like anything coming up with a content plan, a framework for what content will be generated, will be a start.
But to be honest. To be authentic: As I work on pages.. I find it’s almost like Writing a Film/TV Script. Or what I imagine that to be
You have a set of (Brand) Characters - These are often (real) people: They have names.. and Facebook profiles… And to be authentic you might want to introduce these people : With a picture, a quote from them.. an introduction. Or maybe it’s a group (family) shot.. “This is The Team”. Or maybe some King Island T-Bones… noms.
Rather than just have non attributed copy... that could be from PR, or marketing, or some social media guru bad at The English (or whatevs the language) - You need to properly introduce The Cast/Actors/Characters.
And then like any good fiction: Which is basically what a brand is: The invisible associations and bits n bytes on top of the functional product that delivers something quantifiable to the purchaser. So branding in social media, and in this case Facebook Fan Pages, is like Fiction.
So once u have introduced the characters: Let’s use an example at moment : We’re hooked into The Pacific - much of which was shot in Melbourne, Australia: It’s a $150M+ Spielberg/Hanks HBO 10 parter… sort of a sequel or relative to Band of Brothers.
The first 35 minutes of the 54 minute episode of Part 1 The Pacific introduces the huge cast and lead characters, their backstory, and some indication of the key threads of where The Pacific will go; There seem to be 3 or so major storylines, each with corresponding lead.. although now I’m 3 episodes in.. you never know Sopranos/The Wire style.. whether characters may die or be written out.. and thus The Story changes.
My point being : A Brand’s Facebook Fan Page should be looked at the same way. Now as I’ve prefaced I’m talking about Brands that are often one’s that are consumed without much thinking. Dont cost too much. Disposable. And the factors that go into purchase may not be too conscious.
You buy them at a supermarket, convenience store, bottle shop, or the type of retail that involves “Fun” shopping on weekend, for a new tshirt, sneakers.. even some gadgets that dont involve a 2 year 4 figure contract and getting calls/emails from boss and clients on.
So the Facebook Fan Page isn’t a web agencies flashy rich media or immersive client sponsored web game. Nor is it a place to just dump the latest press release from a marketing campaign. Nor do u just “sync’ your ironic twitter @replies and trending topics #hashtags so u can appear hip’ironic. U won’t. U will appear unhip + moronic.
I hate to say it. As like the people that didnt get Twitter. I didn’t really get Facebook for business. I ran a search engine and believe in the hyperlocal social search advertiser value proposition. Still do.
But Facebook, as an advertiser funded brand destination for consumers is totally making sense to me now. There are a few different approaches. But brand authenticity underpinned by the telling of a Brand Story via a Group of properly introduced Brand Characters : That’s what Facebook Fan Pages can be used for.
So while Laurel’s research on the most popular Australian brand Facebook Fan Pages is very interesting: What is of scary interest to me; Is how many Australian brands currently have Fan Pages; Intend to over the next 12 months. What percentage will also adopt Twitter in duet. Then how does the consequent brand and category specific social content - assuming it’s made public (and fan pages do have an rss feed) - is indexed into Google and Bing. Which then collides with The black hat wearing Search Engine Manipulating blog commenting + coopting Cyborg.
Because when clients realise that the popular high authority, well liked, highly followed Social Media generated by them and more so their prospective consumers, across Facebook and Twitter.. is going higher and higher within the first page of Google results for consumer searches for their brands.. that is when Social Media will start getting a real percentage of above the line marketing budgets - So that Brand Stories and the latest marketing campaigns can get the optimum result.