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

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  • http://twitter.com/GiaMedia3 GiaMedia3.com

     Brian, I really loved this article.  Sometimes the simplest things are the best.  Well often in fact.  Thanks for posting it.

  • Anonymous

     I must admit that Andrew has touched the real pain practice of many brands – at social media – who just want to glow iwth social media but don’t realize the other part of the ecosystem. It’s not only taking, its also giving an incentive – by any form. And if your brand does that, nothing can stop that to be another Brand bull on social media. There are couple of excellent technology analysis portals who are very much focused on contents and deliverables but still lags with the incentive structure.

  • SM

     please, please won’t you refer to yogurt in its traditional spelling! It just looks wrong..

  • Don Norris

    Could not agree more with this piece. Confusion is growing and inboxes and link pages are bursting with really useless information. Now hat TV ads are posting the go to facebook page things wil not get any better. I feel like they are adding the facbook link because evrybody else is and the brand manager wants theirs notes as well, but as Natalie points out…why? 

    • Don Norris

      Sorry noted the wrong author of the post. I should have mentioned Andrew Blakeley wrote this good piece. 

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

    I completely agree, and I didn’t mean to imply that a chiropractor or an accountant couldn’t be compelling on Facebook or any other social media site.  My point is that most businesses are just scrambling to get on Facebook without first understanding why they should or what they should do to make that property enticing. 

    I just wish more businesses were driven to social media by purpose rather than by hype.

    • http://www.highertrustmarketing.com/blog/ Jeff smith

      Jeff, good point.  For many businesses that missed the first phase of offering value on the net, the transformation to social may get them to catch up…it will be a real learning experience for many businesses who have just put up a website without figuring out how to offer value to their market online.   

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  • http://twitter.com/EileenAmirian Eileen Amirian

    I agree! Such an interesting article and experiment. Now with the abundant use of social media it’s true – “it’s more or less a given that your brand can be found on Facebook, and consumers know that”-  great advice and loved the examples =]

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  • Anonymous

     How about this for a good reason to “like” a brand – they will actually get back to you if you post them a question on their Facebook wall! I do find it peculiar when both big brands and social media gurus will like to post their own stuff, but don’t seem to bother with actually responding to any of their own fans questions. I’m not talking about everyone or even most fans, but more like at least one fan a day from the a few days of fan posts – why not? Or at least do 10 minutes time going through comments and responding to just one that inspires you. Or how about a half hour for just one day every week? You shouldn’t have to pay for someone’s conference to get a little attention. Just my two pesos. 

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  • http://twitter.com/inthekisser Erica Ayotte

    Andrew—thanks for
    pointing this out. As many who already commented here
    have stated, proving your value as a brand
    worthy of a “Like” is essential to not only gaining,
    but also retaining fans.

     

    Part of the problem is that many marketers look at Facebook
    fans as they would advertising impressions, with
    their goal being to get more “stuff”
    in front of more eyes.  As you discovered, more isn’t more on
    Facebook—it’s just more fluff. There’s a lot
    of noise on all social platforms, and you’re either part of the cacophony, or you learn how to rise above it.

     

    In the case of Facebook,
    engagement isn’t just a best practice; it’s a must-do to get your content seen
    at all. (See TechCrunch’s great article on EdgeRank: http://techcrunch.com/2010/04/22/facebook-edgerank/)

     

    Something that I think
    marketers overlook is using engagement tactics not just to score more likes or
    comments, but to use that information from a business intelligence perspective. For example, one of the best tactics I use is
    often the simplest—I ask a question. The right questions can serve a two-fold
    purpose 1) yield a lot of engagement, and 2)
    provide you with some interesting directional data as well.

     

    In my experience, knowing when
    to enlist subtleties is just as important as remembering that being social means having a conversation;
    not using a bullhorn.
     

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  • http://www.kipfx.com Kip (of Kip FX Design)

     Ohh! Liking this, giving a CTA is extremely important, but to add the why, is simple yet effective.

    I shall be rolling this out to all of the landing pages and imagery we do for our clients from now on.

    Excellent! Thank you! 

  • http://twitter.com/louiechow Louie Chow

    I think social media, like any other media, cannot be treated as stand-alone. it is always ‘connected’. So if you ask people to ‘like’ you, you should have already started a certain kind of dialogue somewhere. Just like you do not just come up to anyone on the street and say ‘will you marry me’! It takes at least a bit of time to nurture the relationship! 

  • Anonymous

     Great read! I actually did a similar blog post on the problem of making customers find you on Facebook http://exercitare.com/2011/05/18/whats-wrong-with-this-picture/

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  • Zuza

     I agree that marketing online have become a great aspect of the general promotion of any product or service. However I think that many companies just chose to create a profile on either of the social media and then they simply cannot really manage it. I do not think that mobilizing people just to click ‘Like’ is going to change much, at least I find it would be sad if it did. There is a need to make these people participate or engage, form a relationship with the potential customers, etc. I believe that we are experiencing just the mere beginning of the social media and it will evolve to fit more updated business models and be more transparent, in regard to the ways that these tools can be applied. 

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  • http://www.eBizROI.com Rick Noel, eBiz ROI, Inc.

    Great points Andrew, especially about proactively answering the why questions when asking customers or prospects to Like your brand. It seems like in the race to get to some arbitrary goal of x number of fans by y date, marketers often forget about providing the customer the famous WIFM (What’s in it for ME) or worse yet, invest in developing something of value to users yet not adequately portraying that value add as an incentive. At the end of the day, if you want to get something from your target market (Like in this case), you need to provide something in return.

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.

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