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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Kicking Around Digital Ads at the World Cup

The 2014 World Cup is just around the corner, and there are some creative digital forums that sponsors and advertisers are beginning to launch.

The world’s largest sporting event kicks off in Brazil’s capital city of Sao Paulo on June 12, and runs through July 13.

One sponsor, Budweiser, has created a microsite to serve as a hub for a weeklong series of events and content. The ‘Rise as One’ platform assures that digital media takes center stage over traditional advertising.

“On top of TV and the more traditional [parts], digital is the lead component of this campaign,” Ricardo Marques, Budweiser’s global advertising director, told Adweek. “One of the things that we wanted to ensure was that we understood the specifics of each platform and made sure that we have content tailored to each platform.”

Adweek’s Lauren Johnson writes that during the games, Budweiser will use Twitter Cards to let fans vote for their favorite players, called the FIFA Man of the Match.

“The beer brand will then award a player after every match and will buy Promoted Tweets to drive traffic to the content. Promoted Posts will also be used on Facebook that direct consumers to the campaign’s microsite to vote,” explains Johnson. “As far as video, the campaign includes two Web series that Budweiser has created with Fox Sports and Vice. The Fox Sports content spans 80 countries for a global push, and the Vice video includes a six-part documentary series.”

Over at Coca-Cola, the company’s largest advertising campaign in its history comes to fruition at the 2014 games. A special logo for the World Cup has been designed by James Sommerville,  VP-global design. He first sketched out the ‘World’s Cup’ logo on a napkin in a restaurant. The logo will be the cornerstone of the campaign, which runs in 175 markets.  “We give the markets creative freedom, but actually they’re all working off the same ingredients,” says Sommerville.

While Budweiser and Coca-Cola are official World Cup sponsors, this tidbit just caught my eye. MarketingLand.com reports that Nike, Samsung, and Castrol are dominating the social video playing field. “That’s according to a report by video metrics firm Unruly, which ranked brands by the total number of shares their World Cup-targeted videos have received on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.”

Nike and Samsung are not sponsors, so it will be interesting to watch how their respective campaigns evolve.

Martin Beck explains on MarketingLand.com: “As of May 22 when the snapshot was taken, Nike led with 1.28 million, and Samsung (971,504) and Castrol (962,206) had just shy of a million. Fourth-place Coca-Cola was way back with 353,067.”

In addition to videos and promoted Tweets, other brands are including Google+ Hangouts and gaming in their media and marketing efforts.   We must not forget mobile.

Let the games begin!

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Chasing Facebook: Google+ is Pacing Itself to Top Facebook in Social Media Growth

googleplus logoYou may have noticed that it’s difficult to get a good read on Google+. You either love it or hate it. There’s no middle ground. Is it fair to call Google+ a ghost town when there are 343 million users, making the network the second largest behind Facebook?

Launched to the public in September, 2011, Google+ has been touted as a fertile ground for in-depth conversations. It’s been lauded for its video chat service, Hangouts and photo services.

Patrick King, CEO of Imagine, a Virginia-based website design firm, writes that tech leaders and social media novices have criticized Google+ from its launch. But King is impressed with the network’s broadcast visibility and audience engagement:

“By now, a lot of people have taken a ride on Google’s Hangout tool, which is by far the best videoconferencing tool of any social site. And now that they’ve released Live Hangouts, you practically have your own live talk show, recorded, and open for anyone to watch. With audience engagement, multi-person conversations are much easier, communities are more accessible, integrated and easier to promote than LinkedIn groups, and Google+ allows the second largest image size of any of the social sites, the first being Pinterest.”

An infographic on Social Media Today highlights several interesting stats. One important fact about Google+ is that there is a significantly larger amount of people registered for the site (1.15 billion) compared with the number of actual users (359 million). These figures are based on the last quarter of 2013. During the same period in 2012, Google+ had 435 million registered users and a mere 223 million active users. (U.S. numbers only).

David and Goliath

So what’s the deal with Facebook? Can Google+ catch and surpass this social behemoth?

Marcus Tober, the founder of Searchmetrics, a global provider of digital marketing software and services, has researched the possibility. Based on Tober’s calculations, Google+ can—and will—top Facebook by 2016.

“The Google network is growing at the stage of small to small which therefore is fast. Facebook is growing from its extremely large base to something larger, and is therefore slower, explains Tober. “The remarkable thing is that Facebook is still growing. And that’s why the blue giant appears to be unquestionably ahead of the market.”

Searchmetrics chart google_facebook_prediction_usCritics say there are a few reasons why Google+ hasn’t caught on like other channels, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. First, Google+ is not a social networking destination as it is everywhere. This confuses people. Second, potential users are concerned about privacy issues and Gmail accounts, and finally, Circles requires too much effort and high maintenance.

Will these reasons hamper the exponential growth that Tober predicts?

 

How Often Should Your Brand Post to Facebook?

Have you ever seen a TV ad just one too many times and become totally annoyed? How about that “stalker”  banner ad (behavioral targeting is the official term) that will not leave you alone?

In media planning for brands, it’s common to set  frequency goals for various media. In digital advertising this is known as “frequency caps”.  The idea is to cap the number of times a consumer might be exposed to a message to prevent them from being completely annoyed. It also enables ads to be served to a broader group to increase reach and manage  frequency.  Too much exposure to an ad often results in a tuning out of the message, having the opposite desired response. At some point for all ad campaigns, the brand reaches a point of  diminished returns. This is usually when a fresh ad is integrated into the mix. I mean how many times can we see the truck pull the space shuttle?  There are volumes of statistical research that  supports effective frequency theories, over decades of tracking ad campaigns. But what about frequency in social media?

I began thinking about this the other day when I realized I was getting social media fatique from some of the over-posters on facebook.  Because social media learning is so new, it has not yet adopted some of the best practices from other media: like frequency caps. The default theory seems to be: post often. But a deeper look into what early “experts” say shows that posting on facebook 1x per day seems to be the prevailing wisdom at the moment:

1. Socialbakers proprietary tracking shows that Brands post on average 1x per day and media companies (news sources ) post  an average 7x per day. In fact posting more did not increase engagement and likes and actually decreased engagement. Posting 1-4x per week received 71% higher engagement than 5+ times per week.  

2. At the AllFaceBook Marketing Conference in December, Facebook asked a roundtable of experts and the belief then was Brands should post no more than 1x per day.  Salesforce.com’s Customers for Life VP Michael Jaindl suggested that most professional users should only post one or two times a day. “The interaction rates are 19 percent higher,” he explained. Glyder director of social media Blake Jamieson agreed, saying he only posted one or two times a day.

3. Jeff Bullas wrote a great post that showed quality of content matters more than quantity of posts. In fact, more frequent posting of 3+ times per day shows less engagement than posting 1x per day.

4. In a recent Mashable article on top social media mistakes, Facebook suggests that brands start out with one or two posts a week to feel out the platform and see what works. Many brands post once per day, and many find that posting more than once per day can actually have an adverse effect on engagement. Facebook indicates that the average user “likes” four to six new Pages each month, so your content is constantly fighting for more attention from its fans. It’s better to post one excellent item per day instead of two decent ones. Bottom line: don’t overpost.

In media planning, there is a wealth of research over decades of ad testing, that supports effective  frequency levels for maximum response and maximum brand awareness. Much of the recommendations vary depending on brand category, the competition, the consumer profile, the message.  In social, it will take much more time to build an arsenal of reliable research on social media to know with certainty what frequency is most effective.

The best direction is to create compelling content, understand what your audience wants to hear, and don’t overdo the posting frequency…as it will likely wear down the audience and create an annoyance reaction.

How often do you post and how to you feel about people or brands who post too often?