Over the past couple of weeks there has been a growing online trend of people sending deals, games, competitions, apps and likes. Unlike in the past, their presence on my wall has not been down to a person considering the content relevant to me. Instead, they are driven by self-promotion and advertising. Is this the way that Mark Zuckerberg envisioned his engagement model?
The joy of Facebook was knowing your friends were on the site, a portal into knowing a little bit more about the girl that you like, your nephew's first steps, music you've never heard of and the rest of your social paradigm. It was a place where you can share your life and things you like, love and move you. Somewhere, the message has been lost.
Engagement has become intrusion.
When adverts were first broadcasted on television sets across 1950s Britain they followed an American model of 'Sell, Sell, Sell!' because the notion of advertising in people's homes was completely foreign. The adverts were pedestrian because they conformed to traditional values founded in the print industry. The first advert screened was for Gibbs SR toothpaste and simply featured a tube of toothpaste, a block of ice and a commentary about its "tingling fresh" qualities. The style was jerky, uncertain and typical of subsequent adverts from the period.
Commentators at the time were left baffled by the point of the adverts, journalist Bernard Levin stated that "I feel neither depraved nor uplifted by what I have seen...certainly the advertising has been entirely innocuous. I have already forgotten the name of the toothpaste".
The advertising industry had to change and reassess its objectives as many in Britain believed that "If you come into my home, you best be entertaining". Although a simple thought, this shift only started happening some 15 year's later in the 1970s, according to the National Media Museum.
I believe we have reached this point within Social Media, this time its personal!
The key to advertising's acceptance was emotion, playing on what we feel in order to influence our decision making process. Dramatic foils such as humour, joy, pain, fear and pride were core to this transition from invader of personal space to an art form.
The same messages hold true in today's society.
The world of social media was never built to survive without advertising, it was built for it. The multi-platform Facebook enables advertisers to utilise all the mediums the web has to offer. Advertisers should have no trouble using the entire spectrum of emotive devices in order to reach and engage with their audience. However most are stuck in the "Sell, Sell, Sell" message. The only change is who is doing the broadcasting, as advertisers have now roped in their audience to do it too, both actively and passively.
It doesn't make a difference if a member of your audience has 'liked' your promotion for a free product or trial once, because they are not becoming an evangelist for your product, they are simply acting as an amplifier for your message. According to Richard Reed of Innocent Smoothies, on average only 2% of Facebook users who like a page are engaged with that brand. Put into another context, according to email marketing company ConstantContact.co.uk Average click through rates for emails are 2.1%. Unlike Facebook where the engagement doesn't guarantee traffic or purchases, the email traffic is directed to the brand's site/store/offer.
How to increase interaction
Social media is a fantastic tool, but it has the potential to muddy your brand's image. I have a couple of 'friends' from my past which I never talk to and don't think about but I remain polite and keep them on my Facebook. They litter posts across my timeline at will and lack courtesy for those who have to read their drivel. They are also the ones who are most likely to 'like' a brand in order to enter competitions and share promotions in order to get freebies.
Their want and desire for free products is desperate and frankly sad. If the person does little to look after their own personal brand in public, their actions will reflect poorly on your brands.
If I'm going to buy from you or 'like' your message you need to be entertaining. You control the quality of your product and you should also control the quality of your message. Do not let other people dilute it.
The answer to getting better results in social media is thought leadership. The way that I'm defining 'thought leadership' in this context is by sharing/publishing content which moves your audience and reminds them that your brand is there.
No one wins in a shouting match when everyone is shouting, especially when you invite your audience to join in.
To conclude, here is just one clever idea which has resulted in a dramatic increase in impressions, and all because they were innovative. Enjoy.