Why I Don’t Like Your Brand on Facebook

Guest post by Andrew Blakeley. Follow him on Twitter (for exclusive deals and offers!)

I recently undertook a simple Facebook experiment, inspired by a brief Monday morning rant from my boss: “This morning my yoghurt told me to find it on Facebook. It didn’t tell me why, it just told me to find it. Why on Earth would I want to find a yoghurt on Facebook? It’s a yoghurt!”

He was right, of course. As social networks slowly become the default online presence for brands to drive their consumers to, adverts, marketing and packaging has started telling us where to go. However, it hasn’t yet started telling us why to go there.

For my experiment – “Find Us On Facebook” – I vowed to Like every brand that asked me to for one week. I would then blog and analyse the various offerings of each brand, in particular how they were attempting to drive people from the offline world to the online, social, world. Here are the results:

As a marketer, I found the results very disappointing. For an industry the focuses endlessly on providing consumers with “benefits” and “reasons to believe” here was a lot of marketing asking people to take an action, without telling them what they stood to gain from it. In 2011 it’s more or less a given that your brand can be found on Facebook, and consumers know that. What they don’t know is why they should bother.

What consumers want from brands in social media is a topic that has been widely written about already, and is fairly well understood by marketers. Research from advertising agency DDB Paris found that amongst the top reasons for Liking a brand were: “to take advantage of promotional benefits”,” to be informed of new products offered by the brand”,” to access exclusive information” and “to give my opinion about the brand”. Four very clear reasons to bother, which could easily be affixed or suffixed onto any “Find us on Facebook” message for greater impact.

Another key finding was the number of brand Liking requests coming from email marketing. These are brands that I had chosen to receive email marketing from directly into my inbox, and here they were asking to appear in my Facebook newsfeed too. They weren’t, however, telling me why I should open myself up to them in another channel.

Only 1 of the 16 brands provided an incentive to make the leap from email to social media. I literally had no reason to bother with the other brands, as I was already receiving their deals and offers, and they weren’t giving me another reason. Some brands have found interesting ways to incentivise people to make the jump:

• Dingo, a dog food brand from Ohio, included a promotion that would only kick-in when the Facebook page reached 5,000 fans (from a base of 300). They had an unprecedented take-up, with fans forwarding on the email to their friends and encouraging sign-ups to get the offer. They hit the 5,000 mark in just 3 days.

• Bag retailer Timbuk2 included an opportunity to win a bike, helmet and messenger bag in an email to its 100,000 newsletter subscribers. It received 6,500 clickthroughs vs. just 9 from its generic social call to action.

Consumers need these incentives, because they know that otherwise all they’re doing is agreeing to be bombarded with more marketing unrewarded.

The sad thing is that some brands are actually building really fun, engaging content in these spaces, but not making people aware of them. The Fosters beer page, for instance, is full of great exclusive Alan Partridge content, starring Steve Coogan and written by Armando Iannucci. Their TV ad, however, had nothing more than a Facebook URL. Had they said “for exclusive Alan Partridge episodes” they would’ve opened their brand Facebook page up to a whole wealth of people, who felt genuinely motivated to click Like.

My week as a social consumer left me tired and confused. It left my Facebook newsfeed so crammed with nonsense to the point that I could scroll entire pages without seeing my friends. It left me a bit sad for the digital marketers and agencies who were building great content that wasn’t getting the attention it deserved. So, if you’re reading this and you work in advertising or are a brand manager – next time you think about telling your consumers to find you on Facebook, consider telling them why.

Artist: Natalie Dee

Share
  • Paula @ Ollievision

    Thanks Brian! I’ve just changed my little Facebook intro note!

  • http://twitter.com/madsfuhr Mads Fuhr

    Spot on Brian!

    I can only agree with your observations and it puzzles me how SO many companies are still missing this crucial piece of information in their efforts to gain more fans, likes, followers, money; a simple reason why!

    Reminds me a bit of blind dating – I don’t know the track records, but I bet it’s a very small amount of people who actually live happily ever after…?@madsfuhr:twitter

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      Cheers. All credit goes to Andrew Blakeley.

    • http://twitter.com/madsfuhr Mads Fuhr

      Well spot on Andrew ;)

  • http://twitter.com/purePRstrategy Gretchen Jameson

    I LOVE this post. In our social media training for nonprofits we spend an entire section talking about how to create a REASON for people to decide to LIKE you – mostly because, if you craft that correctly AND follow through, not only will they LIKE you, but they will continue to ENGAGE with you in a meaningful way. (Consider how many brands/orgs/celebs, etc. we all LIKE on FB, only to never darken their Wall again!)

    On a business visit to Denver, I actually saw a sign on a local toll road telling me to LIKE the toll road. I laughed all the way to the airport.

    Thanks for this guest post. Well done.

  • http://twitter.com/purePRstrategy Gretchen Jameson

    I LOVE this post. In our social media training for nonprofits we spend an entire section talking about how to create a REASON for people to decide to LIKE you – mostly because, if you craft that correctly AND follow through, not only will they LIKE you, but they will continue to ENGAGE with you in a meaningful way. (Consider how many brands/orgs/celebs, etc. we all LIKE on FB, only to never darken their Wall again!)

    On a business visit to Denver, I actually saw a sign on a local toll road telling me to LIKE the toll road. I laughed all the way to the airport.

    Thanks for this guest post. Well done.

  • http://www.socialmediaphilanthropy.com Jeff Gibbard

    I think this is a symptom of the pervasive misunderstanding of social media. Brands and companies are scrambling and often focusing on the platform, they are focusing on the “what.” To your point, there is a question of “why” that is getting overlooked. The majority of business entities lack a clear value proposition for their audiences to connect on social sites. For what reason would I “Like” my accountant on Facebook, why would I choose to “Like” a brand of soda, and why on earth would anyone want to “Like” a Chiropractor? Just because social media is a hot topic doesn’t mean it fits every business, and that hold especially true if the business hasn’t thought past “we need a Facebook page.”

    What ever happened to making something enticing?

  • Woodhouse

    Excellent post. One of the most basic things that you always need to adhere to in marketing is letting the consumer know what’s in it for them. So much of SM just assumes that people will follow on Twitter or find on Facebook–without any compelling reason to do so.

  • http://twitter.com/koningwoning Eric Woning

    Hi there,

    Great post! I agree that there now just is a wrong attitude.
    I think that there is an even worse part to this thinking: why do I have to like a brand before I can see some content (or even get it) – Doesn’t the “like” button mean you like something… and doesn’t that imply that you have already been in contact with it?
    Nowadays we have to say we like something before we even know what IT IS. That’s just crazy. Even worse is when I have to let my friends know I really like something before I’ve read it (the Twitter “Tweet this & download”)

    When I like something – I will want to interact again. I will tell my friends… but please leave that decision to me – do not make that decision for me.

    Each time a “like” is given to something we don’t know – the intrinsic value of the like goes down. So please stop making things worse for those who are willing to do the right thing.

    My thanks will be given to you in abundance!

    P.s. I also think that attracting people solely on basis of having a one time offer is no good…. we need people to interact for them to keep on seeing the content (Thanks to edgerank) – so we need to tell them what to expect there… and what to expect there should create value to them. Be it through regular couponning, fun/usefull information or applications – we need to stop thinking in gettting as much fans as possible and then create ‘cool content’ and nothing more. Interaction stays the key….

  • http://twitter.com/setebbe Sarah Tebbe

    For personal use, I interact with most social media outlets. However, for work I follow many blogs regarding social media and this is the one argument I have with Facebook being useful that is never addressed. I have never understood why I should be interacting/promoting a brand that gives me nothing back. I do not know what I would be looking to receive, but I do know I am not looking for them to clog my newsfeed.

  • Angela

    I just wrote something this week about Lil-lets- I need a pretty strong reason to ‘follow’ them on Facebook. I did take a peak on their page and was disappointed at how badly the page was maintained. As well as being pretty uninspiring. Guess everyone except the 325 followers need a bit more motivation.

  • http://otherthanthat.com cathybrooks

    There also is a fundamental breakdown in almost all cases between a brand’s presence on Facebook and pretty much everything else. Sure, the FB page may suck in feeds from Twitter, or pictures from Flickr, Videos from YouTube, but what is it that these brands *really* want? They want engagement and for that, it’s not going to happen on FB, it’s going to happen on their own site, or more likely within an app they may have created. Finding a solution that forges a bridge between these things is crucial.

  • http://twitter.com/MiltonHCamilo Milton H. Camilo

    Andrew Blakeley if only companies were more like you, me(Consumers). They would understand that Facebook is not for everyone. I mean in the case for twitter that would be easier I would certainly follow my favorite gelato shop to see if they have any specials for the week however on FaceBook , I do not think so. Your right! people need an incentive to Like you on Facebook. Why would I add my favorite chinese place, to be shown in my Facebook page- there’s no need.

  • http://twitter.com/ABlakeley Andrew Blakeley

    Thanks for all the positive comments, everyone – I’ll be keeping an eye on the comments here, so if anyone has any questions feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer.

    Thanks,

    Andrew Blakeley.

    • http://leighhimel.blogspot.com leigh

      i’m not convinced that promo based “likes” is the way to go.  I get it’s going to get you a whole bunch of pple in the short term (and you’ll look great to your bosses) but really, what kind of engagement are you building?  Their going in expectations are now, ‘free stuff’ – while that may be a small segment of your overall customer base, you are now spending dollars against the ‘free stuff’ crowd.  Is that really a great way to build community?  Again, not convinced.

    • http://blog.adminitrack.com/ Adminitrack

      Incentives mustn’t always equate to “free stuff”, and retention all depends on how the relationship unfolds after the “Like” button has been clicked…

  • Beth

    Great article! Unfortunately many brands are following the trend and doing what they feel they need to do without understanding how it works. There is the right platform for every brand and it’s OK to accept that Facebook might not be the right platform for your brand. If information is not useful, interesting or not going to enhance my commitment to the brand I don’t “Like” it.

    I’m also not an easy sell… coupons and discounts are not worth it if my time is wasted by scrolling through Facebook feeds.

  • Anonymous

    Great article! Unfortunately many brands are following the trend and doing what they feel they need to do without understanding how it works. There is the right platform for every brand and it’s OK to accept that Facebook might not be the right platform for your brand. If information is not useful, interesting or not going to enhance my commitment to the brand I don’t “Like” it. I’m also not an easy sell… coupons and discounts are not worth it if my time is wasted by scrolling through Facebook feeds.

  • http://live-your-love.com/ Brankica U

    I have the same opinion about this as you do. I am for example a big fan of some cosmetic products but never got around to like them on FB. Recently I found out that most of them have special promotions and free samples for their FB fans. Had I been aware of this before, I would have become their fan long time ago and share it with my friends, of course.

    I think a lot of those brands understand the fact they should be on Facebook but not sure HOW to do it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisf Chris Fowler

    Cheers @ABlakeley:twitter , great post. The reason most digital marketers can’t say “why” to find them on Facebook is because they haven’t asked themselves the question of “why” they’re there in the first place.

    As others have pointed out, it doesn’t make sense for some business to be on Facebook. Take, for instance, my child’s day care. By ‘Liking’ them, I’m ostensibly sharing with my ‘friends’—some of whom I’ve never met in real life—where my kid can be found when I’m not around. Why would I do that?

    • http://marismith.com Mari Smith

      Excellent point @facebook-707113270:disqus - privacy is in the hands of the user and even a simple act of liking a fan page can reveal more info than folks realize.

    • http://marismith.com Mari Smith

      Excellent point @facebook-707113270:disqus - privacy is in the hands of the user and even a simple act of liking a fan page can reveal more info than folks realize.

    • http://marismith.com Mari Smith

      Excellent point @facebook-707113270:disqus - privacy is in the hands of the user and even a simple act of liking a fan page can reveal more info than folks realize.

  • http://grasshopper.com Allison

    I love this post. This is all stuff we know as marketers or brand managers, but fail when it comes to putting it into action. Thanks for the reminder – better make sure we are telling people about what they are missing out on when they aren’t a fan of us on Facebook! I’m curious, did you unfollow all the brands after this experiment?

  • http://grasshopper.com Allison

    I love this post. This is all stuff we know as marketers or brand managers, but fail when it comes to putting it into action. Thanks for the reminder – better make sure we are telling people about what they are missing out on when they aren’t a fan of us on Facebook! I’m curious, did you unfollow all the brands after this experiment?

  • http://grasshopper.com Allison

    I love this post. This is all stuff we know as marketers or brand managers, but fail when it comes to putting it into action. Thanks for the reminder – better make sure we are telling people about what they are missing out on when they aren’t a fan of us on Facebook! I’m curious, did you unfollow all the brands after this experiment?

  • http://grasshopper.com Allison

    I love this post. This is all stuff we know as marketers or brand managers, but fail when it comes to putting it into action. Thanks for the reminder – better make sure we are telling people about what they are missing out on when they aren’t a fan of us on Facebook! I’m curious, did you unfollow all the brands after this experiment?

  • http://grasshopper.com Allison

    I love this post. This is all stuff we know as marketers or brand managers, but fail when it comes to putting it into action. Thanks for the reminder – better make sure we are telling people about what they are missing out on when they aren’t a fan of us on Facebook! I’m curious, did you unfollow all the brands after this experiment?

  • http://twitter.com/donpower Don Power

    Excellent point. Whether you studied marketing 101 yesterday or 100 years ago, one of the most important functios is a compelling ‘call to action’. Asking a fan to Like your page is a call to action, bit it is noo longr compelling.

    Providing a reason – a compelling reason – to Like your brand – well, there’s GOLD in them ‘thar hills!

    Cheers!

    Don Power
    aha @donpower:twitter 

  • http://twitter.com/mj_daye Mike Daye

     I tend to be a fairly discriminating consumer. Yea, I know why you want me to ‘Like’ your FB page, but why should I press the button? 

    On a related note, the ‘Messin with the Sasquatch’  campaign just got me to ‘Like’ the product on FB simply because the commercials have amused me – no additional content required.

  • Anonymous

    Sarah Evans just did a similar post on her blog on how many times the average person is bombarded with the social ‘ask’ each day.  It seems like in the rush to have a social media presence on the ever-growing list of social media sites, marketers are forgetting that they actually need to give people a reason to like them, follow them, etc.  Back in the old days of email marketing, legitimate marketers were focused on communicating the reasons why people should hand over their email address, and they did so diligently.  It seems that the principles we used then have fallen to the wayside and we expect that consumers are thrilled just to have an social media “relationship” with brands.  Not so.  The stakes are higher now – consumers are far more savvy and fickle.  They expect more from marketers and the marketers that don’t learn the lesson will be left behind.

  • http://DCincome.com/blog Matthew Loop

    Right on… It’s the old “What’s in it for me.” It’s important not to lose site of the marketing fundamentals on newer media.

ABOUT ME

Brian Solis is principal at Altimeter Group, a research firm focused on disruptive technology. A digital analyst, anthropologist, and futurist, Solis has studied and influenced the effects of emerging technology on business, marketing, and culture. Solis is also globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media. His new book, What's the Future of Business (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold and flourish in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. Prior to End of Business, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.

Contact Brian

RECENT TWEETS

FLICKR FEED

  • A gorgeous view from the @grandwailea #maui
  • Digital Transformation - Checklist
  • Digital Transformation - The Team
  • Digital Transformation - Digital Customer Experience DCX

ARCHIVE