An article entry in The Week in Influence dated 08 March 2012 captured my attention. It was titled “Are Facebook ‘Fans’ Really Engaging with Brands?” In the article Karen Nelson Field said in response to data showing just over 1% of fans engaging with brands “Facebook doesn’t really differ from mass media”. Maybe this presumption is the cause of corporate woes.
I would disagree that Facebook can be effective simply through mass marketing principles. Such a train of thought is an example of the Ludic fallacy, when people try to simplify complex and abstract models into systems or methods. Social media is a relatively new concept, early in its development, but what was once a novelty for people to share photos and connect with others has now become a cultural behemoth most of the western world is connected with. The issue isn’t whether brands should want to use this powerful tool as a means of promotion, the problem is how they are strategizing and monitoring it.
Viral campaigns have proved that obscure movements or products can be brought to a global audience with a significantly less budget than a global brand. Would anyone know who Joseph Kony is without YouTube and Facebook? Or look at Hireland, A very effective viral campaign which was established and managed on a shoe string budget.
So how do you go about creating a successful marketing campaign? The best approach to have when approaching Facebook in marketing terms is acknowledging how abstract and new it is and not to be afraid to be creative. Call it what you will: blue sky, undiscovered country, new market it still remains a powerful medium to promote a brand and attract customers.
In terms of branding there is one distinct theme surrounding all the successful Facebook campaigns: Engagement and incentive. A campaign should focus not on promoting the product via sharing but enticing the fans to engage with an incentive. A great example of this is Jack in the Box, an American fast food chain, who added an imaginary nickel to a jar for every Facebook fan. A fan was then selected at random and awarded the money, which amounted to over ten thousand dollars.
In conclusion, brands can’t be afraid to take risks and experiment with Facebook or any social media platform. Serendipity and openness are powerful tools to discovering how to make your Facebook fans engage with your brand. Metric data, although resourceful, shouldn’t be dogmatically use when assessing engagement rate. As Nassim Taleb said “The more data we have, the more likely we are to drown in it”