Session 2 – Are brands losing face?

GeekMeet is a regular digest roundtable of ecommerce minds from the consumer branded world, sharing learnings from their everyday work. Under Chatham House rules, the forum provides a vehicle for like-minded individuals to freely discuss trading conditions, issues, trends and innovation whilst benchmarking online marketing strategies, people and agencies. In this second session, the topic was social acquisition and specifically Facebook.

There was no doubt in the room that Facebook has come to rule the roost when it comes people’s time spent on the Internet, supported all too well by the following facts:
– 23% users check their Facebook site at least 5x day
– 20% online time globally is spent on Facebook
– 40% of this time is spent on reading the timeline

Facebook stock is finally riding high as the geeks within the Menlo Park ranks are learning how to monetise a business model created for less commercial originations. This has involved implementing two main new features: 1) Lookalike audiences (lets you reach new people who are likely to be interested in your business because they’re similar to a customer list that you upload); and 2) Custom Audiences (lets advertisers find their offline audiences among people who are on Facebook).

Although allowing better targeting of Facebook consumers, GeekMeet participants were quick to show frustration at the pace of evolution and the change of emphasis when it comes to brand promotion on the platform. Whereas previously, the emphasis was on brand promotion through engaging and stimulating content, since the changes, brands are now able to force poorly thought out and bland content to the fore by paying for posts.

Just as Facebook ‘likes’ have lost their meaning, newsfeed activity is becoming devalued to the amount that a brand is able and willing to pay. This is in turn is changing marketeers’ mindsets by forcing them to view Facebook as yet another marketing cost and revenue stream. As such, ROIs and KPIs are becoming more prevalent when thinking about Facebook – no longer a brand-building platform that is free, democratic and quality of engagement led.

Despite all of this, for all in the room, Facebook is and will remain a crucial marketing channel, whether it be for lead acquisition or brand advocacy. Participants were keen to stress that the importance of Facebook is in the unrivalled ability to champion the community, with hard-selling frowned upon. Instead of berating the changes, most were excited about the opportunities and the challenges that remained in getting the most out of Facebook through innovative tactics, engagement and campaigns.

Some have been trying to benchmark the effectiveness of Facebook and other social media by switching off other sources for one or two weeks and monitoring each source in turn in a controlled experiment setting. Others are trying to make the most out of customers’ comments. With Facebook commonly used by customers as a customer service channel, most agreed that acknowledging comments online but taking them offline works best. One particularly innovate idea involved allowing negative comments to flourish in the lion’s den by letting Facebook fans comment / vote on them, in turn making the poster feel important and getting your brand advocates to back you up.

For more information, please contact:
Leon Hughes, Associate Partner
Phone +44 (0)207 727 3842