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Facebook Marketing & Likes - How not to forget the customer in the rush to digital

Pete Davis
By Pete Davis  //  Wed 4th January 2012

Kraft’s European vice president of marketing, Daryl Fielding, was recently quoted as saying “don’t forget customer needs in the rush to digital”, and for me this serves to highlight some of the problems that marketers face as they look at new technologies to help them deliver their messages to more and more people as effectively as possible.

It’s often far too easy to get caught up in the bright lights of digital, but marketers have to look closely at what they are doing and the “new media” channels that they are using, and ask themselves whether they are really delivering in the way that traditional media are? Yes, digital is by its very nature extremely measurable and has changed the way we look at many other media channels, but sometimes the numbers can be distracting.

Not long ago, a marketing colleague of mine told me he had achieved 25,000 likes through Facebook marketing and was really happy about this. Not in any way wanting to take away from his achievement, but it had taken him a lot of time, energy and effort to get these followers. For a fraction of that “cost”, my friend could have put an advert out on UK TV at 3am and got twice as many viewers.

The point here being that in many respects anyone can get the numbers in, but it’s what you do with them when they’re there that really counts. Too many brands have lots of friends but are not doing anything with them beyond the clicking of the Like button, and unless these followers are being regularly engaged they are doing little more than passing through. Those 25,000 friends are potentially 25,000 advocates and that is a powerful proposition, but the focus for brand managers need to be on nurturing those friends to do something next.

Measuring your marketing solely by the number of friends you have on Facebook is a little like having a party where you’ve had to give everyone that attends a bottle of wine. How many of these are genuine friends and how much have you had to spend to get them through the door? The real question that marketers should be asking themselves is what is the role of this community within their brand strategy? Marketers need to know how engaged these people are with their brand, and if they aren’t engaged, they need to look at how to get them engaged. And if they can’t do that, then they need to consider the possibility that their marketing budget would be better off spent elsewhere.

Another big issue is around appropriateness. As marketers we embrace any new technology as a way for us to communicate with our target audience, but we have to consider carefully whether the consumer is also embracing it as a marketing channel from an advertising perspective. I don’t believe this is always the case. While marketers see something as a great new advertising opportunity, consumers see it simply as a great new technology, and will see any marketing or advertising as an interruption.

People are inherently social but marketers have to remember the person behind the social engagement. Customer needs should be at the heart of every interaction and if we forget that we devalue the engagement and potentially the brand as well. Digital still offers an enormous opportunity to deliver our messages, but what we should never lose sight of is the fundamental marketing principles, those of delivering the right message to the right people at the right time and in the right place.

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