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.