Clear Facebook success trends starting to emerge

7 Apr 2011

Strong patterns are emerging from what makes successful Facebook marketing versus what makes waste-of-time Facebook marketing. While it would take a braver man than me to venture too far from the general rule “we don’t know, yet”, it does seem that the common sense rule “it’s social media, not commercial media, people, the clue is in the name”, will keep you generally on the right track.

If you were in a sales presentation around a board room table and someone asked you what your company did, you would answer the question differently to the way you might answer the same question asked by a friend at a dinner party. If you answered too casually in the board room you would lose the sale, and if you answered too formally at a dinner party you would risk the verbal wrath of the Come Dine With Me narrator guy.

In other words, context impacts content.

Or to put it a different way, context doesn’t change the content but rather the style in which is it presented. This is the big theme emerging from Facebook studies.

Here’s the light social stuff which is reaping benefits for brands:

The beleaguered and busy customer is happy to engage with promotions and lightweight interaction, but that’s as far as their interest and attention generally stretches.

Integral marketing is working nicely, with relationships between offline and online working particularly well; FMCG sector is leading the charge in this regard.

Conversation between brands and their customers is possible, and with good strategy behind communication, positive conversations can prevail in the social arena. Meaningful customer service can take place.

However, as soon as brands go heavier or deeper or more salesy than that, trouble starts.

That ‘Like’ button

‘Like’ gates are driving people mad and do your brand damage. Either engage with your customers or don’t, but don’t tease them by putting desirable content beyond a ‘like’ gate. Customer behaviour is clear in this environment; like … read content … unlike … never come back.

Deep campaigns aren’t working. They are very alluring and can get the creative team very excited, but too often we see that punters just don’t care enough. Campaigns with lots of pages, interaction, built-in apps and linked microsites are just too much like hard work for too many customers. Treasure hunts, games, prediction contests and team games are too high maintenance for the weary consumer.

Extended permissions are stretching customer patience to breaking point, with drop off rates as high as 30pc for trusted brands.  What asking someone for access to their entire demographic profile from an untrusted brand does to their perception just isn’t worth thinking about.

Perhaps counter-intuitively, sweepstakes and viral promotions just aren’t going viral. Even massive incentives aren’t enough to get anyone other than bargain hunters (who have no loyalty, or even interest, in the brand) motivated to fill out forms.

More often, less deep, more genuine, is how customers are expecting to engage with you online. The theme of the hour is consistent, lightweight engagement. Sure, that’s not a strategy by itself, but already it’s enough to give us some broad parameters to run more successful campaigns and avoid common pitfalls.

Gareth Dunlop is managing director of the leading digital consultancy, iON. The company’s customers are in 15 countries and include The Commonwealth Secretariat, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Oklahoma Publishing and Goldman Sachs.

Read more by Gareth Dunlop: 

Bonnets and beeswax – your business’ reputation

Learning to say no

Enough of your patronising social media heroics, please

Online crimes of passion

New Media Opinion: Online reputation optimisation

Offline marketing isn’t dead …

The unaffordable cost of irrelevancy

Urgent need for new online metrics   

Electricity and the gold rush

The real reason the recession is good for marketing

The class of 2009 wants your job!

Firms need to be customer zealots, not technology zealots

Firms need to put aside their fears and embrace the web

Online advertising overtakes TV advertising

Gareth Dunlop runs Fathom, a UX consultancy that helps organisations get the most from their digital products.