There’s no denying that Facebook is becoming a major channel for brands on the planet. I spend quite a bit of time there and likely you do as well. Brands are investing significant amounts of thought, human capital and money in hopes of garnering customer engagement and eventually revenue. But Facebook doesn’t make it easy.
We create content around the Facebook page design and try to understand how their technology works. We sift through the countless companies who claim to know how things work on Facebook, and just when you think things are getting there, Facebook makes a major change to the design, or code, or interface and suddenly much of what you have made is now broken, or will no longer be useful to you. It’s frustrating, and should cause all brands to take a step back and re-evaluate the role external social networks should play in their company strategy.
Facebook is great at helping us understand their ad platforms and targeting, but don’t seem to be as focused on trying to understand where pain points are for brands who place their intellectual property on Faceboook. Or, in providing ample notice when major changes are about to occur. It would be wonderful to have a technology roadmap, or at the very least an outline of what might be coming. This would help brands plan their investments. It’s hard to argue that with Facebook’s size and large head start that they need to keep everything close to the vest.
Research done by Forrester, indicates that consumers trust the information they find at a company web site (30%) at higher rates than email, TV ads and direct mail. Company blogs (12%), online banner ads (9%) and mobile ads (6%) are at the bottom of the trust list. This means that your earned media, in particular your web site, is where most of your resources should be placed. Brands control the content, design and the technology of their own internet properties, making planning and tracking much easier than in the paid and earned media spaces.
Facebook offers significant access to consumers as well as a platform that is truly social, and this means you can’t leave them out of your social framework. How much you include them and in what way depends somewhat on your brand and how valuable consumers find your web site. The more your customers visit your site, the lighter your integration efforts in the social networks should be. If you have trouble getting people to your site, then Facebook might be a richer platform for you.
Other considerations are who owns the data and how much can you track or attribute back to the networks you work in. By all means I think Facebook is valuable for brands, but like anything, the value will evolve over time. The majority of your investment should be on your own web site.