Originally posted as a guest post on I do Facebook.
My first reaction to the news that Welcome page will no longer exist, was shock and disbelief. The headline-grabbing news of Timeline for pages and the gazillions of opinion articles that followed it, the sub-text of the announcement made in Facebook Marketing Conference on March 7th went largely unnoticed. The reaction of a lot of Facebook ad professionals was, ‘Omigod! What will happen to the highly optimised conversion rates and the infinite calls to action we perfected already?’ It took me a day to come to terms with this change.
When the dust settled and the wounds became less sore, I took a relook at the whole thing and now think, probably, this is the best thing Facebook could have done in their own interests. Sure, it hits their short term revenues – Ads on Facebook won’t be so lucrative for businesses anymore. However, businesses will see Facebook in a new light and approach it in truly social way. With Timeline and the subtext of what it means to the digital marketing industry, Facebook signalled that the days of instant gratification are over.
The Rise of Instant Gratification
When Digital was the new marketing/ad medium, Vendors needed to justify to businesses that the spending was worth it. This forced the Vendors to come up with Instant Gratification and instant ROI calculators – impressions, CTRs, Page views, ‘time spent’ and at least 500 other metrics.
“Instant Gratification” as a stated goal was pioneered and exploited by Google – for users and for advertisers. Using Google AdWords, any marketer can get results within ten minutes - from setting up a site, having a lead capture form and signing up for an Adwords account to Going live. Ten minutes! It worked brilliantly well and millions of advertisers flocked to this new way of getting instant results for their ad dollars. Google did not disappoint many! [There are more than 2.5 million Adwords users, and this figure is only growing]
The industry got addicted to the ‘high’ that instant gratification gives. Millions of advertisers use various forms of digital avenues on internet –banner advertising, affiliate marketing, sales ticking, the works. Naturally, when the new kids on the block – social networks – appeared, marketers got to work with their ‘formula’ and frankly, had a joyride all this while. For all the talk of ‘social’, both the vendor and the business are a part of this gig to get Sales and Conversions and ROI and what not. “If the numbers don’t justify it, move the dollars.” That’s the reality of the industry.
With the dollars working to the satisfaction of the client, the digital marketing industry was totally in its comfort zone even on social media.
FB landing page was Instant Gratification
When Facebook started self-serve ads with the flexibility of a landing tab and an auto-redirect, the digital marketers did exactly what they are used to do on Google. Have a call to action, cajole visitors to like the page and then redirect to a landing (sales) page.
But the visitors to a Facebook Page are not a search mode. They are merely trying to ‘connect’ to a brand. As a result, the conversion funnels were much narrower than on Google, but no one complained. The cost per click is also much lower, so there. You have your “ROI” intact!
Tough time for agencies and digital marketers
Now, with the landing tab going out the window and the user landing on a beautifully designed timeline with NO call to action, NO form to fill, marketers will have a tough time to get their ‘conversion’ numbers back to where they were.
This change is going to put transactional marketers into a very tough situation. But for people who want to build their brand, one interaction a time, it is a wonderful thing to happen. The concept of ‘story telling’ from a brand building point of view is new to the digital industry. As a digital marketing professional, I never bothered about ‘recall’, ‘mindshare’, ‘purchase consideration’ etc before Timeline. Probably I need to learn them in the new Facebook era.
Facebook gives away Pages and a lot of other tools to businesses for free. In return, it wants us to market our brand in a way different from any other channel on internet - in an organic manner. I have executed hundreds of Google campaigns - and the competition was always with the offline media budgets and their ROI. And Google always supported with unbeatable ROI.
With the new Facebook, ad budgets for Social (read Facebook) cannot compete with search marketing. In order to convince business owners to spend money and time on social, in the absence of instant gratification, I need to come up with new ways to explain why it makes sense for brands to be on Facebook and invest without any instant tangible results.
Let us try out some lines a digital marketer can use:
|Marketing agency: You need to be on Facebook because||Brand’s likely response (coming from my experience talking to businesses owners):|
|you can be a part of your consumer’s life||How many ‘consumer lives’ can I be really a part?, Who got the time to do this stuff?|
|get to know your consumers better||You know what, if I know too much about my consumer’s wants, it becomes nearly impossible for me to build a product or service to satisfy them. What am I going to get out of it?|
|you can sell stuff on your Facebook page||You really think we can do that? I was just reading this article on ‘f-commerce’ abandonment.|
|of the viral word of mouth branding you’ll get on social networks||Tell me more|
“Word of mouth branding” seems to come closer to what Facebook wants brands to do and what brands will really be interested in. PTAT marketing is the new marketing that Facebook wants businesses to adopt. People should talk about you in their daily life and spread the message within their networks.
Investing in Mindshare?
Facebook encourages us to have create and grow mindshare in our Target Audience. This happens via
1. Light weight interactions
2. Being human
Is the new brand mantra Facebook wants businesses to adopt. This IMHO will be a very difficult task for any business. Businesses operate on scale. And scale needs standardisation. Businesses like six sigma procedures. So far success stories of businesses that have scalable human as their core differentiator are too few and are more an exception than the norm.
3. Return on relationship (Or relationship marketing)
Professor Gummesson spent a significant part of his career on researching return on relationship (ROR) methodology. He says relationships should start from within the organisation and they go to outside and be visible to customers. If this holds good in the social media age, then right use of yammer and Facebook should give more profitability to businesses.
Given a base of people who like my page, I get quick insights and feedback on various hypotheses I have as a business owner. A CEO need not wait for months to get insights reports from the researchers Ask, and you shall be provided.
Small businesses can replace their CRM system with Facebook. A great feature that a page owner can use for CRM is to reach fans on their birthdays. One can buy stamp ads for wishing people on their birthdays! And impressions are free! When the fan clicks on the ad, he can go to a custom page with his name on it and a personal message. Cool?
I think the go-to reasons for the two giants are complementary - with Google, its increment in sales that leading improved market share and with Facebook, its increase in mindshare leading to increased market share. While Google for most part grabbed ad dollars from Below the Line budget, Facebook will grab the ad dollars of above the line budget. Businesses believing the promise of Mindshare – brand recall and brand engagement - will cut TV budgets to invest in Facebook presence (the Nike example) with the emphasis on going fully social.
This will further put pressure on TV to justify its returns – with Facebook the metrics are instant and the results are visible compared to TV. Digital agencies pitching for Facebook business need to go after TV budget and not the one who does Google budget.
I get ‘The Departed’ feel with FB choosing to take its own path departing from ‘instant gratification’ chosen by everyone else. And I hope FB will not regret this down the line.