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Why Most Facebook Marketing Doesn’t Work

February 17th, 2011 02:00 admin Leave a comment Go to comments

dislike_button_150x150.jpgFor almost four years, since the Facebook Platform was launched, I have been involved in delivering Facebook apps for top brands such as CBS, NBC, Lifetime, Universal Music, Visa and more. Here’s what we have learned doesn’t work, and more importantly, what does work.

First, deep campaigns don’t work. Digital agencies love deep, expensive campaigns on Facebook, with tons of pages, interaction, and art. It fits in with how agencies build microsites and websites, and justifies the $100,000-plus price tag that they like to charge. Examples include lightweight games, prediction contests, treasure hunts where you include friends, and such. Unfortunately for agencies and the brands that drop a lot of cash, Facebook users decidedly don’t like deep campaigns.

Guest author Peter Yared is the vice president and general manager of Webtrend Apps, a platform used by top brands to engage their customers on Facebook, iPhone and Android. He has has an extensive background in highly scalable Internet infrastructure and tools, and has authored patents on fundamental Internet infrastructure including federated identity and data marshaling.

They do not like to spend 20 or 30 minutes on a single brand’s page, unless they are consuming innovative, funny, or exclusive content. So a travel site looking for a long time spent on a page should not put up a treasure hunt on a world map where you invite your friends and can together find great prizes after exploring cities. Sounds good in a pitch meeting, but it results in abysmally numbers of active users.

Facebook users are very sophisticated, and there is no way a single campaign is going to compete on game mechanics with CityVille. If you want to build CityVille, it might work. But, even Netflix pulled their Facebook app. You’re better off putting up a bunch of funny videos from around the world and leave it at that.

Lots of Apps on One Tab Don’t Work

It is easy to think of a Facebook tab like a Web page, and throw a bunch of features on it – such as a poll, gifting, and some videos – all on one tab. However, most users do not show up on a Facebook tab like they do on a Web page. They are usually coming in by clicking on a page’s newsfeed posting (“What kind of traveller are you? Take the quiz!”), a friend’s newsfeed posting (“I’m a cranky traveller! What kind of traveller are you? Take the quiz?”), or a Facebook ad (“Find out what kind of traveller you are!”).

Now, if after clicking on one of these links a user is dropped into a Facebook Page tab with eight different things on it, they are not going to see a quiz immediately and move on. There should only be one engagement feature per tab.

Sweepstakes Don’t Work

After an initial onslaught of Facebook sweepstakes promotions, marketers are learning that sweepstakes have very low conversion rates and almost no viral uptake. We’re also learning that they attract unengaged users who are there for the prize rather than a relationship with the brand.

like_icon_large.jpgFacebook users like to click around and look at stuff, and absolutely do not like filling out forms. We have run highly promoted sweeps campaigns for major artists that included things like backstage passes and a limo ride to the show that had abysmal conversion rates. There is absolutely no incentive to make sweepstakes social.

Why would you invite more people to join a sweepstakes? It reduces your own chances. Have you ever seen a “I just entered a sweepstakes and you should to” posting on someone’s wall?

One attempt to increase viral spread in sweepstakes is to offer more prizes when there are more entrants, but all that does is confuse users with conflicting agendas. There is a disincentive to invite people since it reduces your chances of winning, but if enough new people join up perhaps you can win something else… “Ah, too confusing, I’m going to watch videos instead.”

Photo and Video Contests Rarely Work

A lot of brands like to do photo and video contests, but unfortunately they do not have the user base that likes to submit photos and videos. Travel and photography brands? For sure. Mobile carrier? Beverage brand? Not likely. Even clothing brands can’t pull this off.

Uploading a photo or video is a big investment on the part of the user, and they do not expect to do it for the vast majority of businesses. These campaigns also require the labor to moderate the submissions. If you must run a photo or video Facebook campaign, the best way to do it is actually NOT in an app.

Instead, have users upload the photos and videos to the brand’s page, and moderate them there. Then have users get their friends to Like the photos or videos. This way, the campaign leverages all of Facebook’s viral channels around photos – when the user uploads the photo, when they Like the photo, when their friends like or comment on their photo submission, it is all highly likely to show up in their friends’ feeds, drawing traffic. The great thing about this is that it is easy to do for free, since using all of Facebook’s photo and video features are free, and users get to use the known Facebook photo and video interface, which increases conversions.

Next page: Like Blocks Rarely Work; Extended Permissions Rarely Work

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Source: Why Most Facebook Marketing Doesn’t Work

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