I've started to notice a trend on brands' Facebook pages. Rather than landing on the Wall as the start page, you land on a special page with a branded image that includes links back to the brands' Web site.s This image map usually provides links back to the home page and a few other special pages. It's doesn't provide much more but is certainly more graphical than the normal Facebook stream.
Of course, if you visit those brands' home page, you'll see a link asking you to "like" them on Facebook as the brands try to build their social media following. When you click on that link, you land on that graphical Facebook page with a link back to the page you just came from.
I can imagine some unsuspecting (or merely bored) person clicking back and forth in this infinite loop, only to emerge when their broadband connection goes down.
What we're witnessing here are brands jumping into social media, and especially Facebook, without a clear strategy. The graphical landing pages are nothing more than another bad, static banner ad at best, or a circa 1996 Web site at worst. While I can understand the desire to drive Web traffic from Facebook and to grow the number of social media followers online, these brands have fallen into some common trapsNo social marketing strategy
- Brands who lead with graphical links back to a Web site don't understand Facebook. In social media you fish where the fish are. If you're on Facebook, do something on Facebook.
The biggest mistake these brands make is that they still want to make their Web site the one and only destination, rather than de-centralizing their marketing. Facebook becomes instead another road leading back to Rome.
There are a number of brands that use Facebook for interaction, conversation and business. Those who do understand that they need to provide value on Facebook itself, rather than trying to bring people somewhere else. Just look how Pizza Hut
allows you to order pizza right from Facebook, or how 1-800-Flowers
allows you do ecommerce without leaving the site. Brands like Adidas
and Victoria's Secrets
have moved their site marketing to Facebook itself.
For smart brands, it doesn't matter where you interact with them or do business, as long as you do it in a place that benefits you and the brand. Brands leading with graphical links back to their site show that they don't have a strategy for social media marketing.
Focusing on the wrong numbers - Infinite loops also show a misguided focus on certain numbers, and often the wrong numbers. By focusing on traffic from Facebook and number of followers, brands award quantity over quality. It doesn't matter how many fans you have if they're not helping your brand grow. The same is true of Web traffic.
The problem is that valuable numbers around interaction, conversation and value are harder to measure. It can sometimes take much longer to show how these increase growth. Lately, firms have developed a media value to fans and interactions on Facebook, showing a dollar value based on the number of "likes." This will only encourage a quantitative focus rather than a qualitative.
While it's a good thing that brands recognize the value of social networks like Facebook, they need to go beyond a picture with links. Here are a couple of things to think about:
- It's not about pretty - Even if you can't make things graphically beautiful, people will still like you in social media. Don't worry so much about how you look, worry instead about how you act and how interesting others find you.
- What's the Do? - You have a chance to let people do things. What do you want them to do? What can you offer them on your social networks that will entertain and delight them so they'll want to do it again and tell others about it?
- Move your marketing - Start thinking about how you can move your marketing to social, rather than keeping it all on your site. Things like microsites have started migrating to Facebook. What could you move?
You might never end up with a following like Victoria's Secrets but that doesn't mean you should give up either. Start developing your social strategy and take time to move slowly and deliberately so you get it right.
Remember, infinity is a very long time.