Facebook & Building Brand Awareness

Posted on October 12, 2008. Filed under: Business, Marketing, Social Media | Tags: , , |

I am one of the 100 million facebook users. No I’m not a teenager, nor a wannabe cool Gen Xer. Actually I use Facebook for a lot of things. I use it to stay in touch with my daughters, both of whom live in England, I get to see what’s new in their world and they mine. I use it to reconnect with friends that I have lost touch with and I have actually made new friends via Facebook. I also use it to connect on a more social level with business contacts, those people with whom I have a real connection.

Like other Facebook users I also use it to have a little fun. I like to show my affiliation with certain causes and brands. Being from England there are certain foods and other items that I miss from home and so searched for them to add them to my profile. Having taken part in a posting regarding the use of Social Media and goal setting. This started me thinking about the brands that might be using Social Media well and those that aren’t.

Using only Facebook (FB) as a exemplar I searched for popular brands. Why FB ? Well the statistics for FB speak for themselves, it is the #1 photo sharing application on the web and the #4 most trafficked website in the world (both figures are from comScore.com). Of the 100 million users, the largest growing demographic is those aged 25 years and older and for those in the 17 – 25 age group it is the #1 site on the web, with 50% of those users visiting it daily. It is available in via both the standard and mobile web, which means that users can post from a desk, a coffee shop or wherever they are with their smartphone.

The results of my initial search were not all that surprising, some brands have embraced social media and are actually using it to drive brand awareness and brand affiliation, others are not.

Firstly I searched for a favorite food item, Doritos chips. These are listed by more than 500 people on their personal pages as being a favorite item, there are several “groups” founded by FB users in support of Doritos, yet there is no product page on FB for Doritos. This seems like a missed opportunity to me, if you know you have a fan base and those people can be communicated with and will in turn influence other users to spread the word about your brand, why would you not engage with them?

Ferraro, makers of products like Nutella, recently used their FB page to run a competition amongst fans of Nutella to get them to vote on proposed new flavors. I don’t know if any of the flavors were actually going to be manufactured but I do know that the competition was forwarded to thousands of FB users. Ferraro had tapped into their fan base and increased it.

When you search for the top three motor manufacturers on FB you get the following results, Ford – 8,922 fans, GM – 142 fans, Chrysler – 2,495 fans. Now these numbers are the result of many factors, age and other demographics, but they are also the result of engagement with the tools available. Ford has product placement in game applications available on FB, it has sponsored competitions and is actively promoting brand consciousness on FB.

There are many other examples of brands that have either not engaged at all or have done it poorly and then abandoned the effort.

So what does all this mean for marketers? When I see marketers wanting to set tangible goals for a social media campaigns, I wonder do they really understand what a social media campaign is. What it isn’t is a conventional media campaign conducted in Web 2.0 world. Opening a FB account and simply loading your latest marketing collateral isn’t a social media campaign. I believe that a social media campaign is a lot harder, a lot more resource intensive than many marketers realize. Starting one without the ability to maintain it, is a form of brand suicide. Like blogs whose last entry was a year ago, an abandoned social media campaign shows both a lack of understanding and a lack of real engagement. Setting traditional goals for a Social Media campaign is not relevant to the medium, social media is about influencing influencers. Key individuals whose opinion is valued amongst their connections, and who, given the right level of communication will engage with both the brand and their network. These concepts don’t only apply to big name brands or only to FB, they are true for all who are in the business of promoting, marketing or otherwise trying to drive brand awareness. They are equally applicable in the B2B space as they are in the B2C space. Influencing influencers is one of the major keys to a successful social media campaign.

Is it better not to do anything, I’d say yes, if you aren’t prepared to do it properly its better not to do it at all.

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