Whatever The ROI, Brands Are On Facebook For Good (Now What’s The Plan?)

It’s 2011. Chances are you’re recommending, and executing, Facebook campaigns for your clients. But why? Is it because all the cool kids are doing it?

According to Fortune, Facebook isn’t all that wonderful of a medium for brands.

Razorfish’s recent 2011 Liminal study points out that consumers prize a few things when engaging with a company. They want a modicum of trust, a feeling of being valued, a sense of control, and they want the experience to be efficient, consistent and relevant to their lives. So, where do consumers choose to go when they want to “engage” with a brand?

The Razorfish survey found that despite the gobs of time people spend on places like Facebook (1 out of every 8 minutes online), they don’t use Facebook when they want to connect with a company. Overwhelmingly, consumers were inclined to go to company websites, seek out people they feel are “in the know,” or talk to a company representative.

Companies’ emails made consumers feel more valued than companies’ Facebook pages, and the study says that in terms of engaging with brands, “Twitter and Facebook didn’t even make it into the top nine in terms of importance or frequency of use. Gasp.” In fact, Facebook ranked lower than the print ad, customer service instant messaging and the email newsletter, whether the demographic surveyed was 25-34, 35-44, or 45-plus. Gasp again.

Which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Integrated marketing has been around for a long time now.

What’s interesting to me about the passage above is this line: “they (consumers) want the experience to be efficient, consistent and relevant to their lives.” When has advertising ever delivered on these kind of expectations? Nike+ is one example, but try to name another.

To my mind, Facebook isn’t failing to deliver as an advertising medium, brands are failing to deliver relevancy and utility. And there’s nothing new about that. What’s new are the many challenges presented by the rise of radically transparent digital culture.

I actually like brands on Facebook for one big inside the industry reason–it’s a social platform where team members on both sides of the client-agency aisle can loosen up and learn to serve an audience in way that’s not really possible on the brand’s main website.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.