Inconsistent Brand Strategy on Facebook Leaves Marketers Frustrated

What’s up with Facebook?

Those in branding and marketing are probably counting the days when yet another change to the social network will leave us puzzled…and frustrated.

When Facebook recently moved away from its fan-based organic approach and into promoted posts, there was pushback from users who are annoyed with the ads.

Marketers and business owners who had been gathering steam over the years by growing a solid fan base on Facebook’s business pages were also irritated.

Branding pros understand that paid ads are exasperating for Facebook users, and don’t want to be part of the mix. Who would? Any brand that cares about its reputation and how the company is perceived would head for the hills.

Being perceived as an interruption is not good for business. Brands work towards relevance, and this latest Facebook change moves in a very different marketing direction. I’m sticking with relevance.

Facebook’s new model, sans click-bait, oversteps the lines of consumer privacy. Facebook’s latest catch is that a new algorithm shifts from clicks to how time someone actually spends on a particular ad or site. That’s when the dreaded flood of spam and pop-ups begin.

A few years ago, I went online to get a coupon for an oil change for my car. Within a split second, I was receiving competitor discounts for oil changes, ads for new tires, a mechanic training program, and a car dealership right near my house. Oh, what a simpler time in social media….

Many industry leaders maintain Facebook is chipping away at the precious content that brands often struggle to create. If our content is bumped to Facebook’s back burner, and our fans are seeing promoted posts valued by the social channel instead, why should we continue with the platform?

I have to wonder how important Facebook actually is to my business, and my clients’ businesses.

There’s an interesting post from The Wall Street Journal about this very topic. East24, an online food ordering service, dumped its entire Facebook presence, “claiming the social network was deliberately limiting the exposure of its posts in order to force it to pay for ads.” The post, written by Jack Marshall further explains:

“Many marketers paid significant sums to accumulate audiences or ‘fans’ on the social network, only to find it’s getting harder to actually put content in front of them without paying. Interestingly, Facebook’s response seems to be that fans help boost the effectiveness of its ad products. In other words, marketers must pay for ads to extract value from the fans they may already have paid to acquire. The changes aren’t designed to help Facebook sell more ads, but they might.”

I’m not willing to dig into my client’s budget to pay to engage with relationships that were already established.

And did heaven and earth fall apart when Eat24 shuttered its Facebook page? This was the company’s parting post with Facebook.

“We closed our Facebook page, and absolutely nothing happened. The sky didn’t cave in. Hell didn’t freeze over. Tuesdays are still exclusively for Tacos. Everything is pretty much exactly the same as it was when we had a page. The only difference is now we don’t have to think about things like optimal headline length, preview image resolution, and the proper ratio of cats to cheeseburgers to maximize virality.”

Haven’t consumers already proven that they don’t want to suffer through irrelevant ads and commercials on TV? Can you say DVR?

 

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Staving Off the Drama of Net Neutrality

Network neutrality may bring the fast lane to some but it can also lead to a slow and painful existence to advertisers who provide content.

The Federal Communications Commission has approved a first-step towards net neutrality, which would offer a two-tiered ‘fast lane, slow lane’ approach to streaming video online.

Currently, the giant providers such as Netflix, Google, and Comcast are on a level playing field with the rest of us. The Internet is free and available to virtually anyone to stream large amounts of video, ads, and content.

The FCC wants the behemoths to pay for access to the ‘fast lane’ technology which allows content to be available at warp speed without interruption and snags.

If the slow lane is reserved for the rest of us, advertisers, and brands could experience significant changes in how we reach consumers on the web.

Online advertisers and small agencies could be hurt by barely moving in second gear while the big boys are running circles around us on the NASCAR track.

A recent post on DexMedia.com explains it this way:

“This might mean, for instance, that it might take a lot longer to load a video ad than the page content around it, depending on who is paying for the better service. In addition, a tiered system could effectively redistribute audiences, making it more difficult to target them whether via online or digital TV platforms.”

For now, we still have a level playing field and net neutrality remains in place, as it should.

If the FCC is looking to discriminate, I would respectfully suggest Commissioners re-read the U.S Constitution. If the FCC wants to create needless drama, Commissioners should tune into an afternoon soap opera or reality show.

A final thought: I don’t want to be in the slowpoke lane. Do you?

 

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“Always On” Media and What it Means for Marketers

Multi-tasking is the norm these days. Especially in media usage. Consumers view two to three screens at a time when consuming media. People watch TV, interact with shows using their tablets or smart phones and react via Facebook and Twitter.

This has never been more pronounced than during the 2012 Presidential campaign. A report by Forbes stated that 39% of US adults used social media to discuss politics. President Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention sparked 2.5 million online conversations alone and during the record-breaking first presidential debate, more than 10 million tweets were sent. ABC reported there were more than 6.4 million tweets about the election and there was an average of 3,000 tweets per minute from people declaring they “voted!”  Expressing views while watching TV is becoming popular whether it be about politics, entertainment or anything in the news that affects people’s everyday lives.

At the start of 2012, I wrote here on my blog that advertising is not dead and it was just a matter of adjusting to technological innovations and consumers media habits.  I thought it would  be good to see how consumers are behaving in terms of media consumption now that 2012 is drawing to a close. Nielsen recently released their cross platform report for Q2Let’s look at the trends and the impact on marketers.

TV is Still Ahead in the Number of Screens in Use

According to the Nielsen report, Americans spent over 34 hours per week in front of their TV sets watching traditional TV, DVDs and playing console games in Q2. There is also a growing amount of content consumed via the Internet connection through services like Hulu and Netflix.  Americans also spend another five hours on average in front of their computers consuming online content including streaming video. Smartphones now have a market penetration of more than 50% and tablets are already in almost 20% of US TV homes.

Consumers Want More Content at Their Finger Tips

Consumer behavior has changed tremendously over the years. From being tethered to the desktop computer to access online content, they now want the flexibility of being able to access their favorite social networking sites, connect with friends, check emails and shop online anytime and anywhere.  Smartphones and tablets are the devices that give consumers that flexibility they’re demanding. More so since data plans have become more affordable.

The Second Screen Phenomenon 

Data from Nielsen reports that 40% of Americans use their tablets or smartphones while watching TV at least once a day, and twice as many do it at least once a month. In the past, it was through their computers and laptops that consumers connected online, but now with the emerge of tablets and the smartphones, accessing online content is easier than ever before. No waiting for boot up, faster connectivity and on-the-go capability is what makes the latest tablets and smartphones more and more people’s favorite device to get online.

It’s also noteworthy to point out that because these devices are now in most households, connectivity and the adoption of new technology is no longer limited to the young and tech savvy. According to the Nielsen report, “while watching TV, 36% of people age 35-54 and 44% of people age 55-64 use their tablets to dive deeper into the TV program they are watching and nearly a third of tablet users age 25-64 check sports scores.  Across the board a majority of users use apps while watching TV”

A New Connected Community 

According to Dounia Turrill, Nielsen’s Cross-Platform Practice Lead, “when we now talk about this growing connected community, we really are talking of a group comprised of multiple generations, crossing ethnic and racial boundaries and breaking down socio-economic barriers.  With these trends pointing to continued increases in media consumption, it could be said that consumer choice is driving more than watching, it’s also creating stronger bonds with audiences of all sizes and in all places.”

What Does This Mean For Marketers?

It is imperative more than ever advertisers understand the correlation between TV consumption and Internet consumer behavior using portable devices as it opens doors for brands to create a dialogue and influence purchasing behavior to happen instantaneously.  Advertisers must take advantage of social media because of the huge impact it has in terms of increasing consumer interaction. Forty four percent of 18-24 year olds and close to 50 percent of 25-34 year olds visit social networking sites on their smartphones during both commercials and programs while watching TV.  Ads on TV must also match the advertiser’s online marketing message and their products or services be readily available for consumers to buy on their mobile devices as 29% of 25-34 year olds shop on their smartphones while watching TV.

Not only do marketers and advertisers need to focus on their message, it is also crucial to make their website content mobile and tablet ready. To get a better picture of how mobile friendly your website is, you can test it’s mobile readiness here or view your site as it might look on a  multitude of devices here

One can also choose to employ a responsive design on their site. The idea behind this concept is instead of using mobile sites or themes, the design utilizes media queries to determine the best way to display the content based on the user’s device.

Whatever option is most compatible for your marketing budget and time, it is imperative to do it now. Consumers are not waiting, they are adopting mobile at record speeds.  Consumers want access to more content at their finger tips. Is your brand ready? How are you adapting to the changes? I would love to hear your thoughts.