Take a look at the screenshots below from a recent Walmart Facebook post and the whole “why is there EdgeRank” debate ends: Likes change.
By removing the burden of copy & pasting links or writing up posts, the like button-concept has redefined how brands, products and services gain exposure through social channels. In an instant like (along with digg, retweet, +1, etc) sped up posting and created a passive process that encouraged engagement and sharing a long but as the word implies, like is a big statement.
The chief issue with a like, a retweet, or any other broadcast that is asked of a user is the endorsement behind it. Just as social has a code of conduct for brands engaging with consumers, the same exists for consumers engaging with each other. Posting to the wall and using a strong statement, each “like” is a statement. And not only do you have to get past that hurtle, but under the current feed systems, each action disappears off in minutes to a sea of new updates, photos and other likes leaving little long term connection outside of a smart counter.
But with Facebook’s new timeline feature and the apps that plug into it, the sharing game is in for a massive change.
As Facebook demonstrated with their launch partners at the recent f8 developer conference, a timeline app is an aggregation of activities from a particular site or tool that are individually less visible but collectively add up to reflect a part of someone’s life in their profile — whether it’s sharing a live playlist with spotify, last nights’ movie with Netflix, the current craft project, or even an automated stream from a vacation, apps will allow for users to associate activities as a part of their self identification.
Less visible & less significant, the opportunity for exposure will increase
The challenges to liking that I mentioned previously poses a significant barrier on many levels — users are selective about how many companies they like in total, how frequently they will add something new and even how they interact with sub-level pages like a brand vs an individual item for fear of overdoing it or being spammed by brands. By lowering the priority of each post and enabling more reasonable actions (reading, watching, listening to, researching, etc) it’s logical that users will become more willing to share and even allow for automated posting for trusted and appropriate tools.
In traditional advertising we consider repeated exposure vital to building up awareness and consideration so while these changes reduce the impact of any individual share action that is moved over to a timeline app, repetition is a worthy tradeoff for building social credibility.
Social has gone far beyond speeding up support inquiries or driving discussion n product launches, brand building is now really more “brand attachment” or the connection a brand is able to make, keep and show within a customer’s life. Timeline draws this evolution out literally and even further drives home the significance of moving from a buyer-supplier relationship to a partnership of sorts.
Early adopters will benefit significantly from viral effects.
While f8 outlined a few possibilities, there’s really no consumer facing brand that can’t find a way to bring themselves into a timeline.
The opportunity for timeline apps to is significant across many b2c and even b2b channels going from the very straight forward and “obvious” activities like a streaming service post to far more complex sharing like an update after a QR code scan or the departure of a plane.
Pulling in my own real world example, we see timeline as a game changing way to launch and build activity bringing gift related actions out from our standalone web and mobile platform and into a user’s existing social base without having to force (or build) a full app connection. With a simple confirmation, the wishlist picks, reviews and discussions around products created on our site live in a central place right where our user is most — Facebook. This in turn drives up repeated impressions which not only gives us the chance at growing our users but it helps the user fulfill their goal of getting their wishlist shared, seen and that gift purchased – it’s an action that we both want.
From my seat as both managing a consumer service and bringing brand marketing programs out, timeline apps are one of those changes that we will look back on and say “wow, that changed things” but I am eager to know what you think — is your team mapping out ideas, knee deep in code or holding on the sidelines to see if things shake out first?
As the buzz around social becomes stronger, many corporations coming from the era of tv and print just finished struggling through online advertising and are now finding themselves facing something completely transformative that pushes aside the principles decades of marketing experience has taught them. This has caused a reactionary response where marketers have been tasked with hitting metrics to claim victory to the stock holders, the board or just the executive team. The buying of a like has become a quick fix.
You can’t claim engagement if you’re buying it
Whether it’s a flier in a newspaper with a Facebook coupon, a tv spot with a Twitter url for a contest or an outright offer to buy fandom with a deep discount (see “Did This National Restaurant Chain Put Too Much Love Into the Like?” by Jay Baer) the result a purchase of a like rather than a connection with a customer. As this sort of buying becomes more common place, it’s not surprising that even as brands talk about wonderful ideas like engaging and building community, research from the Get Satisfaction blog shows that 43.5% of consumers are following brands for offers — and why not, that’s what they’re being told they’ll get.
Already missing the mark on relevancy, social sites penalize poor relevancy
With hundreds of connections per user noise has become so high that systems like Facebook’s EdgeRank now exist to tune down what a user, their friends, and even the overall “like” audience see from a brand page. Even on systems like Twitter that don’t have scoring of responses, the mere amount of information makes the less than relevant disappear into the bottom of a long stream. Thus the more a brand buys it’s following, the less each follower sees, or cares to pay attention to the brand. This becomes a cold reality when you discover that some brands are suppressed to over 80% of their audience.
This doesn’t mean abandoning growth goals, but rather settingt expectations about what they lead too
A brand that decides “I’m going to go out and advertise my page to build up” is wrong to use the word engage to refer to that program. Conversation is gone and while the activity is on a social channel, it is as much broadcast marketing as an email list or a weekly mailer… Even worse with virtually no segmentation offered by social networks, the existing loyal fan base is lumped in with the prospecting effort. Everyone becomes one jumbled mess.
On the other hand, a brand that says let’s insert a flier with orders to share a comment, or posts a sign inside our stores with a mention that you’ll find expert product insights, company updates and occasional offers on their social pages is building the expectation of dialogue and is attracting loyalty and certainly customers. A discount may be associated but the qualification is that you want to be an insider, a participant first, and get a little something in return for it in access and savings.
Bigger counts do not actually mean bigger reach or results
It’s a critical realization and once you step down the paid like road it’s very difficult to get back up the relevancy ladder.