Wednesday, May 01, 2013

'like' if you love cheese

There's been some speculation and debate among the chattering classes about the implications of the new Facebook feed set up for brands on the platform and brand pages in particular.

There's plenty of material out there from the social media experts on the how-and-what so no need for me to add a lay view here.

What I will say is that the - let's face it - impending death of edgerank is no bad thing.

I received a report the other day from the community managers who run and monitor the Facebook presence of several fmcg type brands.

Included in the report - and I kid you not - was a statement to this effect.

Our best performing post this week with x-hundred 'likes' was...

'Like if you love cheese'

Aside from how the norm is to calculate best performing content in this manner when in reality 'likes' are a pure vanity metric - feels good but offers no value in terms of anything actionable as a consequence - one can't help but ponder the following fact.

Here we have (and have had for some time) mass social media platforms - perhaps the most potentially powerful set of tools ever available to the human race in its history, with the potential to connect billions people world wide, and inspire them to do just about anything - yet for marketers we are stuck in this mediocre space - 'like if you love cheese'.

Because over time brands on Facebook gradually figured out how to ‘game’ edgerank – you may have seen the sharp rise in inane like-baiting drivel from brands clogging up your feed. Tactics such us ‘like if you prefer pies, share if you prefer sausage rolls’ are deliberately designed to game Edgerank. They get the likes, for sure.

So i applaud Facebook for now effectively killing edge rank (that's not what they say but it's my interpretation) in a play to make it harder for this kind of branded cack to appear into the users feeds in an organic way.

Facebook want brands to pay for their reach. And they are entitled to want this.

The good news, however, is that in all likelyhood the fact that brands will now have to pay for reach means that the quality of brand content will have to improve.

Because it is no longer 'free' then Facebook content will have to come under the same strategic and creative consideration as any other paid-for advertising, therefore reaching beyond brand fans to touch as many potential buyers as possible is the imperative.

The perceived 'value' will now be greater, simply because there is a cost connected to distribution. On the downside it’s a straight-up ad platform now. More like tv or any other web based publishing platform like Yahoo or msn.

Brand content is the now in effect pre-roll to your friends updates.

And it is a boat that appears to be leaving the harbour as the next generation of potential Facebook users appear to be - perhaps not splitting from the program - but certainly spending more time with less 'public' verticals like Whatsapp, SnapChat and Instagram (albeit a Facebook owned property)for their instant gratification and dipping in and out of Facebook for their broadcast fix.

It's a bitter-sweet situation. Better brand content (advertising), designed to get shared and grow reach, for sure, but I sense that we may now look back say that Facebook was the great missed and misunderstood opportunity for advertising as an industry.

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