Facebook forcing companies to have identities

26 Mar

We recently read an article written by: found here. We found it interesting how with its new timeline, Facebook is trying to get businesses to become more “personable”. They want companies to talk less about them and offer a more interactive experience.

With the lack of default landing tabs, the prohibition of promotional items on Cover images, and the prominent display of friends’ interactions with the brand combine to put something other than commerce at the forefront of the Facebook Page experience it brings more personalization.

We certainly agree with that as we know no one wants to be fed information over and over and over…we also find it important to be helpful and useful to our clients and those that “like” us.

Read on below for more of the article:

In an excellent piece on VentureBeat, ace tech journalist Jolie O’Dell quotes Facebook design lead Sam Lessin as saying:

“(Timeline is about) the whole concept that organizations have identities, that a nonprofit, a sports team, all have identities that they want to express.”

About the new Cover photos, and in particular Facebook’s ban against promotional messaging in them, Lessin said:

“The key with cover photos is storytelling and expression. We want to create a good experience for everyone, and we think these guidelines really help brands… They’re encouraging people to create engaging content that people want to come back to and create and emotional connection with.”

Perhaps the most under-reported and puzzling statement about Timeline was this gem from Facebook project director Gokul Rajaram:

“Brands don’t want to be overly promotional; in the long-term, they know it’s a turn-off to people… They want to have a deeper connection.”

Why Would We Want to Make Money When We Can “Engage”?

I’m not sure I agree that brands don’t want to be overly promotional, or that they inherently want to have a deeper connection. Brands want to be successful, period.

If direct mailing miniature bags of popcorn carefully scented with a special fragrance formulated by Angelina Jolie herself proved to be effective, brands would be all over that tactic like a feral cat on an unguarded ham. In fact, as the infographic below suggests, two-thirds of online retailers on Facebook are almost purely promotional.

It’s perhaps more accurate to state that some people (including me) believe that being too promotional on Facebook is a slippery slope and can ultimately fray the relationship with customers. Facebook seems to agree (in spades) because they have decreed that brands must embrace the photo-centric, feel-good ethos of Timeline.

Facebook is on record as saying that its goal is to have brands act and interact just like people, and if your company wants to actually make money from Facebook? Well, there’s a whole bunch of advertising options available for that.

Jolie O’Dell nailed it in the summary of her article:

“Marketers love and live by calls to action, so if calls to action are illegal in Page cover photos but legal in Facebook ads, marketers will still be shelling out for Facebook ads to the tune of billions each year.”

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