Social Media Tools, F Commerce

4 Quotes That Show Facebook’s New Touchy-Feely Intentions

Most online retailers talk only about themselves on Facebook. Those days are about to end.

According to research compiled by data-driven social media marketing company Argyle Social (a sponsor of this blog, and the software that we use for social communication), 65-66% of 566 online retailers surveyed only post content about their own company on their Facebook pages.

With the release/forced march of the new Timeline format, Zuckerberg’s brigade is mandating an end to the “me” “me” “me” era of Facebook communication. The lack of default landing tabs, the prohibition of promotional items on Cover images, and the prominent display of friends’ interactions with the brand combine to put something other than commerce and calls-to-action at the forefront of the Facebook Page experience…….emotion. (See 14 Ways new Facebook Betrays Small Business)

In an excellent piece on VentureBeat, ace tech journalist Jolie O’Dell quotes Facebook design lead Sam Lessin as saying:

“(Timeline is about) the whole concept that organizations have identities, that a nonprofit, a sports team, all have identities that they want to express.”

About the new Cover photos, and in particular Facebook’s ban against promotional messaging in them, Lessin said:

“The key with cover photos is storytelling and expression. We want to create a good experience for everyone, and we think these guidelines really help brands… They’re encouraging people to create engaging content that people want to come back to and create and emotional connection with.”

Perhaps the most underreported and puzzling statement about Timeline was this gem from Facebook project director Gokul Rajaram:

“Brands don’t want to be overly promotional; in the long-term, they know it’s a turn-off to people… They want to have a deeper connection.”

Why Would We Want to Make Money When We Can “Engage”?

I’m not sure I agree that brands don’t want to be overly promotional, or that they inherently want to have a deeper connection. Brands want to be successful, period.

If direct mailing miniature bags of popcorn carefully scented with a special fragrance formulated by Angelina Jolie herself proved to be effective, brands would be all over that tactic like a feral cat on an unguarded ham. In fact, as the infographic below suggests, two-thirds of online retailers on Facebook are almost purely promotional.

It’s perhaps more accurate to state that some people (including me) believe that being too promotional on Facebook is a slippery slope and can ultimately fray the relationship with customers. Facebook seems to agree (in spades) because they have decreed that brands must embrace the photo-centric, feel-good ethos of Timeline.

Facebook is on record as saying that its goal is to have brands act and interact just like people, and if your company wants to actually make money from Facebook? Well, there’s a whole bunch of advertising options available for that.

Jolie O’Dell nailed it in the summary of her article:

Marketers love and live by calls to action, so if calls to action are illegal in Page cover photos but legal in Facebook ads, marketers will still be shelling out for Facebook ads to the tune of billions each year.

 » Social Commerce: Fact or Fiction? | Argyle Social is on a mission to help marketers drive meaningful business outcomes through social media marketing.  Hundreds of small- and mid-sized businesses rely on our platform to power marketing campaigns on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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  1. ryanlaf says

    @markmckay @photojunkie @zeidel talk about yourself all day, no one will listen. Newsletters are dead and gone.

    • photojunkie says

      @ryanlaf @markmckay @zeidel that was the great thing about when I did portrait series. It was about them, and they would talk about my work!

  2. mim.gomberg says

    I work for  a large clothing retailer and question how they as a brand could authentically reach a target audience. Right now, it is daily/hourly email blasts that I find spammy. Also, how do I approach getting that gig?

  3. KateBacon says

    @jaybaer – maybe the only way to “promote” on FB in future will be through paid advertising? Small biz lose out w/ ban of call to action :-(

  4. ExecSpeakers says

    @jaybaer Jolie O’Dell is right. The prohibition of calls to actions in the cover creates a huge push of dollars towards Facebook ads.

  5. Neicolec says

    I’m not sure if you’re suggesting that Facebook’s touchy-feely intentions are a good thing or a bad thing, Jay. Of course, given that they have bet the farm on ad revenue, it makes sense that they are pushing marketers to use ads as the self-promotional tool. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing, though. Ads have their place and will always bring a certain measure of success (sales). But I’m kind of glad that Facebook is pushing marketers to use their pages less for self-promotion and forcing them to offer a better value proposition to customers. We’ve all seen the proliferation of FB pages with useless, annoying, self-promotional posts. And the unlike’s or “post-blindness” that drives. It’s bad for all of us. In the long run, I think it’s better for business and even for individual brands if they have to think more deeply about how to use their Facebook pages to provide something of value to users and make the page about the customer. They can find ways to do it so that it also benefits them as a business, aside from the long-term benefits of being a page that people actually come back to and a brand which they have a connection to that they deem valuable.
    I think Facebook is missing the boat, though, by looking only at advertising as its main source of revenue. Two years ago I said that they (and other networks) should be looking at provide apps and tools that help businesses to create Facebook pages that market in new and innovative ways–beyond advertising. I still believe that. They could be doing a lot more to find and define the next big thing for marketing–what comes after online ads.

    • says

       @Neicolec I want YOU to interpret whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing! As a consultant, I’m in the being right business. As a blogger, I’m in the making you think business. Different! 😉
      I completely agree about the one-legged stool of their revenue model. I wonder how long it will be before they start offering their own paid management platforms? The say they won’t, but Twitter said that too. Whoops. 

  6. afmarcom says

    @jaybaer Ever notice how ppl w/ pages like that claim they’re enjoying success? Think it’s ever true?

  7. says

    I must say I agree with the other comments. I do find it funny how Facebook would want to block the small business from using the “free” ways of promotion just before they announced they want be an IPO. The ads are a nice function of Facebook, that it true- but who really reads them and besides they are a little on the pricing side, for my budget. If I had that much of a budget I think I would stick to Google Adsense where I can get a broader reach. I suppose Facebook will soon be just a gaming spot and a place to keep in touch in family and friends and they will eventually kiss the business owners and fan pages goodbye. I am not sure that is such a great idea.

  8. says

    Something else that’s important to note – 
    This was a brilliant move on Facebook’s part to keep their users happy. Sure, they make money off advertisers…. but advertisers are there because of a massive user base. They were getting in this cycle – sell more ads. show more ads. make more money. – and users were already, or if not soon, going to get sick of it. People were already blasting FB for putting ads in the newsfeed. 
    The new Timeline for brands and the restrictions that come along with it (no advertising in the Cover Photo, no default landing page, photos has to be the first featured app, emphasis on sharing/interaction) forces brands to focus on quality content, and not just 100% promo. It’s not an effort for brands to be more ‘real’. It;s an effort to keep the users for leaving. It isn’t touchy-feely. It’s strategy. 
    – Danielle Hohmeier
    Online Marketing Manager at Atomicdust

    • says

       @Danielle Hohmeier I think the strategy is not around user preference, but rather the taking away of any inherent call-to-action capabilities, forcing companies to buy ads to reach their full fan base. But I do see your point. 

  9. jewelfry says

    Now that Facebook has an IPO they want us to think of corporations as people, people that are our friends. I’m not comfortable with where this is going and I’m in marketing.  

  10. LynleeEspeseth says

    Thanks for the post. I guess in the sense that Facebook doesn’t want advertisers to hang on to a “me, me, me” attitude is good, after all that method doesn’t seem to work anyways. The idea that brands have to work to create compelling and interesting reasons for people the follow them is pretty forward thinking. However, when a lot of people are interested in dollars and cents I have to wonder how many businesses with embrace the “touchy feely” side and how many will look for other methods. 

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