Talk to the Hand! Big Brands Don’t Seem to Get Facebook
Too many brands are ignoring the customer on Facebook. I know – sounds crazy, but it is true. A study concluded at the end of 2011 showed that an alarming number of 50 of the top brands on Facebook were using the social network primarily as a promotional device, and completely ignoring the potential for conversation and interactivity with their customers. These pages had closed Facebook walls and other content that did not allow customers to initiate or participate in a conversation.
These brands miss the point. The worst part is that these same brands will start to complain that Facebook is not meeting their objectives to boost loyalty and, in the longer term, sales. Of course not!! These brands are failing to realize the most basic marketing principle. Remember Marshall McLuhan? The medium is the message! Facebook is no different. The medium is there for users to spend their leisure time. They are using the social network to interact with the outside world, first – their friends and as an extension of that, brands they have gained an affinity for. Not so much for shopping! These brands seem to think that their products are so good that they can interrupt consumers no matter what they are doing!
Facebook offers the wonderful opportunity to gain loyal followers for your brand, but only if you cater to them on a personal level. Promotional messages do not empower your audience. Promotional messages do not spark up a (meaningful) conversation about your brand. Promotional messages are a one-way communication and are welcomed only to a very limited extent on Facebook.
What’s worse is this study revealed that 56% of these brands did not respond to a single customer comment for the entire 2011 calendar year!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME???
It is perfectly acceptable to grow your Like base with a giveaway or entry into a contest. That’s the initial good gesture needed to populate the room. It’s also fine to reward this new audience from time-to-time with a few promotions in the form of discounts, more giveaways or contests. But to gain loyalty, to get a genuinely engaged audience, you need to grow that organically from within that audience. This means empowering them by simply listening and conversing with them. Asking them for their ideas and their feedback. It’s not that hard. Especiallly for the big brands who some could argue don’t even need to take that first step to populate their Like base as most of these brands have an established culture that appeals to us consumers at large. What’s more, the empowerment one feels from a big brand responding, conversing or accepting our feedback has been seen from sociologists to be as significant and in some cases even more significant than meeting or talking to a celebrity. Those moments are almost never forgotten.
In short, the big brands don’t need to do anything else but make their Like base feel important. It is clear from case study after case study that this goes a lot further than a Facebook BOGO!!
The study was performed by consulting firm A.T. Kearney in December, 2011. You may think that brands are just slow to understanding what Facebook is really for. Two things about that – Firstly, it’s been 5 years since Facebook pages have become an essential part of the marketing mix. You would think brand strategists would have learned by now. Secondly, the study alarmingly showed that more big brands, not less, were conducting themselves this way on Facebook than one year ago. 94% of the top 50 brands in 2011 compared to 91% in 2010!!