The changes that Facebook announced yesterday regarding their brand pages highlighted an issue that I’ve been thinking about for a while.
Does it make sense for a brand to lay all their chips on the table when it comes to Facebook?
Does it make sense for a brand to invest millions of pounds into developing a long term brand platform they ultimately do not control?
It’s worth noting that only brands that spend multimillions with Facebook on paid advertising get advance warning into changes on the platform. So where does this leave companies and brands that choose not to go down the paid route, but instead focus on building their owned platform on Facebook with great owned content to acquire fans and earned conversations? In my opinion, they’re constantly on the back foot and under pressure to find last minute tech and development resources to make their brand pages align with Facebook’s constant tweaks and changes. Ultimately, any brand with a significant presence on a social platform like Facebook requires a strategic agility that the majority aren’t even close to being able to deliver.
A few points to consider:
1) Acknowledge the role of social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, but make sure your own house is in order first.
Ultimately your brand’s website is where the buck stops – it’s where people will go if they want detailed information on your products and services and if they really want to get under the skin of the brand. Before investing millions into Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Foursquare, make sure the user experience on your brand’s website is the best it can be.
2) You and your brand ultimately do not have control over what happens on third party social platforms.
As has been made abundantly clear, Facebook can make changes at any point and there’s NOTHING you can do about it. They can rip your brand’s pages or applications down without warning, leaving you to navigate a Byzantine process with Facebook to get them restored. This requires unexpected diversion of budget and resources that may be needed on more urgent projects. An interesting account of getting to grips with this process has been posted here.
Also understand that Facebook owns all of your content and there’s nothing you can do about it. Anything you post on your brand’s page or is posted by the fans on your brand page can be used by Facebook in any way they like. In Facebook’s words:
“You grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook.”
3) Acknowledge the role the social platforms can play in distributing owned content and creating positive earned conversations for your brand.
Social networks are powerful and have the ability to change opinions about a brand, both positively and negatively. It’s important to harness the conversations that are already happening about your brand on social platforms – by feeding the positive conversations with interesting and appealing content like videos, games and coupons and by acknowledging and responding to the negative chatter and resolving any lingering customer service issues.
What’s the bottom line? Social platforms are powerful and can benefit a brand immeasurably, however given the lack of control a brand ultimately has over their owned presence on these platforms, a pragmatic approach is required to avoid unmet expectations and wasted budget and resource.
Accept and embrace the lack of control, but don’t throw your toys out of the pram when Facebook make unexpected tweaks and changes, because it’s their platform – your brand is just ‘renting’ a space on it.