Circa 2009, India – As a social media marketeer, yours truly like the handful of us then, realised the importance of Facebook ads as a key input on social media strategy. We were tracking brand fan pages from the West and following best practices to acquire more fans on our pages. Of course by then we knew Facebook ads were pushing the fan count up the ladder for most global brands. In India, we were still dodging tricky questions from reputed National brands with fan size running only in three figures like – “why am I not getting more fans?” or “why isn’t anyone participating in my contests?”
Thanks to individual blog posts like this or the 2009 Mashable post on Toys R Us it helped us build strong cases to loosen client purse strings further. (They had still not fully bought in to the new ‘monkey’ called Facebook and why were they present on a ‘website’ which had only teens!) Well, the few brands who dared to try the impact with FB presence coupled with FB ads noticed great shifts. The sudden and massive impact of FB ads on fan pages included
– Increase in contest participations
– Increase in conversations and engagement
– Increase in user generated content and much more….
Over the next 12-18 months, every brand had created FB pages for each of its brands. In fact, brands under the same companies were in a discreet competition with ‘Who’s Page the Largest!’ Well the agencies did their best too, in making the online success of a brand linked to the size of its page and that followed suit until recently.
Back to 2013 – The handful of Digital Media events I have attended this year and quite a few brand managers I have met in recent weeks have all echoed in unison like the Fastrack ad – its time to move on! The buzz in the market is stop the spends on acquiring fans. Where are our fans leading us to? What’s next? What’s new?
Did you mess it up? – If your brand is a case where Facebook may not have worked to its optimum then ask yourself – If you are a brand manager, did you fall prey to the easy bait of success on social media as a feather in your hat? Or if you being an agency managed to hard-sell FB ads simply to ensure your content gains traction and you have inflated figures at the end of the month when you share FB insights report with client? Wasn’t your social media strategy robust enough to play on content first and media spends next? There are brands now sitting with millions of fans on their pages wondering how to move forward (Way Forward Plan, eh?) What’s interesting is the very same voices who vouched for FB ads so rigorously are now doing a complete U and have taken (the rightful) higher ground of stating strategy & content as prime, and dont chase fan count. Well, better late than never. Social Media is still a learning for us all and we can only bring our learning in to play.
So, To Like or Not To Like? – If you are a proud owner of a fan page with million+ fans or even a few thousand fans, it doesn’t matter. Time to get your Social Media strategy and objectives in place. Voices asking you to plug out FB spends completely may not be the best foot forward. Moving out of FB may not be a choice either. You can’t make orphans of your fans who built your community over a period. While chasing the fan size dream, did you forget to give them an experience about your brand or product for which they may have come here for? Have you created noteworthy content exclusively for them, content that may elevate their experience and association with you over your competitors or even brands from other categories who fight for a users attention every 24 hours!
Its time to re-think. Some thought-starters that I may recommend
2. Focus on creating the best content pieces and identify the ones which require post promotion.
3. Treat FB ads budget specific to each campaign rather than earmarking a set FB budget every month/cycle.
4. Value your current fans and involve them with a renewed co-creation program.
5. Think – Have you ever used them for research, surveys, product co-creation, testing, sampling etc. More likely than not, most brands still dont use this platform as two-way communication.
6. New fans are new set of energies adding to your pages, sudden plug-off may limit your brands reach.
While Social Media is real-time marketing-monitoring-measurable medium to connect with users, it does require a well-defined plan of action. The learning and mistakes, if any, made in the past will truly help us chart our approach before embracing new platforms or even new features of existing platforms with attention to detail and not by the drop of hat!