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Success at Facebook may be easier than you think.
The senior team at Twist Image spent some time at Facebook the other day. In watching the examples of brands that achieved some serious success leveraging the world's largest online social network, one thing became abundantly clear to me: Facebook is going to be brutally hard and ineffective for the brands who think they can simply take the creative they're using in-market and adapt it for Facebook (be it with paid advertising space and by leveraging the true power of Facebook marketing - which lies in leveraging the feed). You can read more about that line of thinking right here: Where Digital Creative Is Different.
In praise of slow.
In my first business book, Six Pixels of Separation, I had a chapter titled, In Praise Of Slow, that still gets attention and comments. Considering it was written in 2008, I'll take that as a compliment. More importantly, the message was this: while many think that the Internet enables things to happen fast, free and instantly (true!), to get some serious traction, to truly connect with consumers and build loyalty that pushes beyond trust into the land of credibility, takes a long time (much truer!). What has changed since 2008, is that brands have become increasingly smarter at this, and many more players have entered the fray. The growth of content marketing and native advertising also validates this. Suddenly, brands are telling stories in a more personal, human and connected way. It is very effective, but it isn't something that works from campaign to campaign or quarter to quarter.
Ask yourself this question first...
Are you really and truly willing to put the time in? Back to Facebook. Although it's easy to buy attention on Facebook (through fan acquisition and pushing your messaging out via paying for more access to the social graph), the brands that are able to capitalize on the paid strategies are the ones who are putting in the time to actually do something with their content that fits the way that people connect and communicate on Facebook. Again, this may seem simplistic, but we still live in a day and age where the vast majority of brands are pumping out a stock photo with a message akin to : "like this if you like sunshine," or some other kind of bland drivel. To counter that, successful brands on Facebook are really diving in deep to think about what they're going to do in a world where people are more likely on Facebook to connect with family, friends and colleagues than they are to connect with brand. In short, brands have to be personable and interesting. Again, this takes time.
Putting in the time.
People always want to know how much time it takes. How much time does it take to blog? How much time does it take to podcast? How much time should we spend on Twitter? How much time does it take to create great content for Facebook? The reframe that is needed is not in trying to answer the question by looking at historical data from others, but in asking the question in a more philosophical way. The question should best be phrased like this: if we are going to be effective using Facebook, are we committed to putting in the time and effort it will require to get the results we expect? Don't scoff at this question. The majority of brands are under-indexing on Facebook not because they are not committing the right amount of funds or creative to make a run at it. They are failing because they're not putting in the time to create content that relies on the social insight (versus their creative idea) and they're not putting in the time to truly connect with the audience (which, on Facebook, is individuals... not lumps of demographic groups).
There's something deeper here.
It's not just about Facebook, either. It's about everything that has a social component to it. Building your business to social scale is something that can be bought (whether some like this or not is irrelevant). Building your business to social scale and turning it into something truly valuable will only be about the brand's commitment to truly put in the long, hard work and time required to build substantive relationships. So, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc... is all about being fast, easy and free, right? Or, are the true winners the ones who are putting in the serious time.
Do you think your brand is committed to putting in the time?