The need for more careful planning with Facebook

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Audience Creation

This is a post I have been meaning to write for a while.  What has prompted me to pull my finger out is that I have increasingly found myself screaming WTF?! all too often and becoming quite frustrated with the lack of good planning when it comes to campaigns and communications, particularly when Facebook is selected as a core part of the campaign.  Let me explain…

I recently went away on a holiday with my pals.  There were 5 of us.  All of us have smart phones.  3 of us are on Facebook.  I use Facebook frequently.  My other two friends use Facebook just to check photos and status updates.  The two non-Facebookers: 1 has recently stopped using Facebook as he has migrated to Twitter and the other has no social profiles at all.  He is a Dr, 29 years of age, clever guy, owns an iPhone, an iPad and is very tech savvy but chooses not to ‘engage’ via social networks.  He shows a surprising interest in what I’m currently working on (my other friends at this point have now have slipped into a coma).  His main question was “will I miss out by not being on Facebook, in the future”.  Now, this question interested me as I was reminded of a comment made at a Facebook conference I attended a few weeks back.  According to the Facebook spokesperson, in 5 years time Facebook hopes to be present on every website, via Facebook connect or Like buttons that you can embed alongside page elements.  So curiously I asked my friend “what makes you say that?”
“Well, I’ve noticed within the last few weeks, TV ads and billboards do not include the website address anymore, they point people to Facebook for more info, and I do not use Facebook, so will I miss out?”  Bingo!

When it comes to campaigns, it is vital that all marketing communications clearly display how to get in touch, find out more info, and/or make a purchase via telephone, website and now Twitter or Facebook.
8 years ago when I was developing print ads, radio ads, etc… a time when broadband adoption was increasing and more people were using the net, I never, ever, considered removing the call centre number and only include the web address to purchase.  I can hear my director now screaming “it’s commercial suicide” and quite rightly so, as the majority of our sales were done via telephone rather than the net.  We were a broadband provider, so the majority of customers who were purchasing did not have a broadband connection yet, and many did not even have immediate access to an Internet connection (sometimes not even dial-up!), so telephone was the easiest way to get the sale.  We even had an excellent call centre team and support forums (yes, believe it or social media was used before Twitter) for both prospective and existing customers when they engaged with us.

Which brings me back to my main point…  I’m now going to refer to a recent campaign in the UK that would have cost millions in above the line spend, that shall remain nameless, and in my opinion has taken one step forward in social media but now two steps back with Facebook.  They have provided me with a WTF? moment and they are not the only ones.

The brand’s recent ad features some very well known celebrities, and as brand ambassadors they appeal perfectly to the target audience of 16-35.  At the end of the ad the call to action is to ‘Search Facebook’ for the product.  No website address, just the Facebook search term.  Now, we all get that in the UK there are 30 million users on Facebook (realistically the product’s target audience is a fraction of this), and I’m sure you’ve shared the social nomics video and had a little wee over the stats, but here’s the rub.  In order to get involved with the product’s Facebook page you need to like the page first, which to me immediately puts up a barrier, especially when as a prospective customer all you want is to find out more info.  I don’t have to add Amazon.com as a bookmark before I can search for books, so why should I become a fan of a page immediately?  Equally, if arriving via Facebook mobile app on iPhone, you cannot see the flashy landing tab which you can experience via PC/Laptop, and furthermore the wall posts are random (I’ll come to that later).
If you decide you want to be a fan, you then are presented with info about an exclusive download.  If you want this piece of content you have to enter your e-mail, again why did I become a fan? The exclusive content is a great piece of social currency, but surely the main message should be about the awesome product, it’s price, at the same time providing exciting on-topic discussions about the product, allowing the customer to get involved in the conversation.

Because the brand in question decided to exclude non Facebook users, they should have ensured that they are maximising the potential of those customers who do use Facebook, and ultimately convert these fans into customers.  But, unfortunately you cannot get the price or specs of the product within Facebook.
Upon closer inspection, there’s a product info tab where I’m immediately presented with the cool TV ad.  But, I’ve already seen the ad, I just want to know what the cost is, and maybe have a chat with the brand or with someone who owns one?  Finally, I find the product portfolio lower down on the tab and decide that I want to get more info, so I click on the button, suddenly I’m then directed to the product website for more info!!!!  Now, I might be stating the obvious, but you selected Facebook as the primary destination where I’ll be able to find everything I need, I gave you a Facebook like for this, not to be taken out of the environment and be directed to your site?

And this is my WTF?? moment.  Why did the brand not include the web url on their ads alongside their Facebook page url, as ultimately, this is where you end up to actually find more info and pricing?  Surely when planning the campaign, and the decision was made that all customers are to be directed to Facebook, someone might have stuck their hand up and said “this is quite a long user journey, which we hope to convert to sales, I’m worried it will not deliver?!”  Little wonder some Financial Directors are questioning the value of Facebook, especially when selected as the main customer touch point using millions of pounds of media spend.

In short, I personally feel there is definitely a need for better planning and user experience when it comes to social media, and especially if using Facebook as the primary destination as your call to action.  We have in the past meticulously planned user journeys for landing pages on sites/micro sites directing prospective and existing customers to content via campaign creative, so why would you not plan user journeys and content schedules for Facebook?

Furthermore, we need to plan how to continuously engage fans when they arrive, with on topic content that will engage and convert.  I totally get that in 5 years time Facebook could possibly dominate the web, and that the need for a healthy fan base/community is important.  But, we have not reached that point just yet.

The need for more careful planning with Facebook

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