Guest post by Andrew Blakeley. Follow him on Twitter (for exclusive deals and offers!)
I recently undertook a simple Facebook experiment, inspired by a brief Monday morning rant from my boss: “This morning my yoghurt told me to find it on Facebook. It didn’t tell me why, it just told me to find it. Why on Earth would I want to find a yoghurt on Facebook? It’s a yoghurt!”
He was right, of course. As social networks slowly become the default online presence for brands to drive their consumers to, adverts, marketing and packaging has started telling us where to go. However, it hasn’t yet started telling us why to go there.
For my experiment – “Find Us On Facebook” – I vowed to Like every brand that asked me to for one week. I would then blog and analyse the various offerings of each brand, in particular how they were attempting to drive people from the offline world to the online, social, world. Here are the results:
As a marketer, I found the results very disappointing. For an industry the focuses endlessly on providing consumers with “benefits” and “reasons to believe” here was a lot of marketing asking people to take an action, without telling them what they stood to gain from it. In 2011 it’s more or less a given that your brand can be found on Facebook, and consumers know that. What they don’t know is why they should bother.
What consumers want from brands in social media is a topic that has been widely written about already, and is fairly well understood by marketers. Research from advertising agency DDB Paris found that amongst the top reasons for Liking a brand were: “to take advantage of promotional benefits”,” to be informed of new products offered by the brand”,” to access exclusive information” and “to give my opinion about the brand”. Four very clear reasons to bother, which could easily be affixed or suffixed onto any “Find us on Facebook” message for greater impact.
Another key finding was the number of brand Liking requests coming from email marketing. These are brands that I had chosen to receive email marketing from directly into my inbox, and here they were asking to appear in my Facebook newsfeed too. They weren’t, however, telling me why I should open myself up to them in another channel.
Only 1 of the 16 brands provided an incentive to make the leap from email to social media. I literally had no reason to bother with the other brands, as I was already receiving their deals and offers, and they weren’t giving me another reason. Some brands have found interesting ways to incentivise people to make the jump:
• Dingo, a dog food brand from Ohio, included a promotion that would only kick-in when the Facebook page reached 5,000 fans (from a base of 300). They had an unprecedented take-up, with fans forwarding on the email to their friends and encouraging sign-ups to get the offer. They hit the 5,000 mark in just 3 days.
• Bag retailer Timbuk2 included an opportunity to win a bike, helmet and messenger bag in an email to its 100,000 newsletter subscribers. It received 6,500 clickthroughs vs. just 9 from its generic social call to action.
Consumers need these incentives, because they know that otherwise all they’re doing is agreeing to be bombarded with more marketing unrewarded.
The sad thing is that some brands are actually building really fun, engaging content in these spaces, but not making people aware of them. The Fosters beer page, for instance, is full of great exclusive Alan Partridge content, starring Steve Coogan and written by Armando Iannucci. Their TV ad, however, had nothing more than a Facebook URL. Had they said “for exclusive Alan Partridge episodes” they would’ve opened their brand Facebook page up to a whole wealth of people, who felt genuinely motivated to click Like.
My week as a social consumer left me tired and confused. It left my Facebook newsfeed so crammed with nonsense to the point that I could scroll entire pages without seeing my friends. It left me a bit sad for the digital marketers and agencies who were building great content that wasn’t getting the attention it deserved. So, if you’re reading this and you work in advertising or are a brand manager – next time you think about telling your consumers to find you on Facebook, consider telling them why.