Facebook: The Flattering Bully

Thirteen years ago, Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe brought us Myspace. For those of who remember Myspace, it’s hard to forget “Tom”. He was “friends” with everyone, appearing in everyone’s “friend list” in a small box wearing a plain white t-shirt.

Twelve years ago, Mark Zuckerberg and a group of friends gave us Facebook. Now, unlike Myspace, as users, we are not all “friends” with Mark Zuckerberg. He would be a cool friend to have in your friend circle though, so I can’t say I would mind being able to pick his brain about the behemoth of a social channel.

Ten years ago, four guys gave the world the ability to send messages in 140 characters. Cryptic? Maybe to some. Morse code? No.

Twitter. In 2006, we began tweeting. Or as grandparents all over the world say, “twittering” or using “the tweeter”.

Six years ago, the world was introduced to Instagram. Millions of users took to the platform to share our photos and videos. We started using “filters” to edit images and took to hashtagging like with Twitter. Then it seems, we became so fascinated with images and filters that we embraced something new.

Drum roll, please. Snapchat. Five years ago, the application of disappearing content began to take the world by storm. Snapchat originated under the name “Picaboo”, just as Twitter began as “Odeo” and many others were born under different names. The goal of Picaboo was to provide a way to send messages to others that disappeared. If you are keen to pay attention to connotation, the goal of the application was to provide a platform for content that was “explicitly short-lived”, if you get what I’m saying.

So now, we have other platforms like Meerkat and Periscope that allow for live video broadcasting which have influenced the likes of Facebook. Over the next ten years, it will be increasingly difficult for new platforms to gain a foothold. Although future founders will have great ideas, they will be bullied into selling way before their time. The biggest bully in the social media marketplace is Facebook. Facebook is the Donald Trump of social media. Facebook is the guy who buys everyone’s property in the game of Monopoly and puts up hotels. Simply put, Facebook can put your idea in business or put you out of business.

In 2012, Kevin Systrom and Mark Kreiger sold Instagram to Facebook for $1 billion. Not a year later, Facebook tried to buy the ability to send explicitly short-lived photos from Snapchat for $3 billion. Snapchat owners Evan Piegel and Bobby Murphy didn’t sell. They are, in effect, the two younger siblings so used to be pushed around that it wasn’t unbearable because they had hope, like all younger siblings have.

Last year, there was a lot of speculation that Facebook would make a particular purchase. Then, this year, Facebook introduced live broadcasting. Original idea? No. Another idea popping up just like a Meerkat, or should I say Periscope? If Facebook does not buy your idea from you, Facebook will copy you. He is the older sibling in the game of Monopoly who puts a hotel up just before your property just because you added one to yours.

They say that copying is the highest form of flattery. The next ten years are sure to make Facebook the most flattering bully out there.

Reaching Consumers: Converting Followers to Influencers through Email and Social Media

Email may be beating social media in terms of sales right now, but I think that social media will surpass email in terms of sales results. The sales process consists of the steps that begin with marketer’s initial contact, to planning the sale, assessing needs, presentation, gaining commitment, and finally to the final follow-up. This is fairly easy to see in marketer’s use of social media. Brands can utilize their existing followers, profiles of potential users/followers, and search queries to identify users with whom to make initial contact before planning out their approach. Luckily, company marketing departments no longer have to do all of this themselves, as users often come to them, taking the first step out of the process, and leaving it up to the actual brand to get them to engage and commit to their product or brand. Social media takes the guesswork out of who may or may not be interested.

Facebook users are a great source of third party recommendations that encourage users to put their faith in a brand as well, as users can see when their friends “like” a product or company page. I think that incorporating a Facebook link to a brand Facebook page or product has been a great way for companies to get people to believe in their products.

Facebook has generated leads for 72 percent of Business2Consumer (B2C) marketers and just over 35 percent of leads to Business2Business (B2B) marketers. It is important to use Facebook as 80 percent of social network users have indicated that they prefer using Facebook to connect with brands, making it the most likely channel for generating leads to potential consumers.  I believe that Facebook has tried to compete with email through sponsored ads, marketplace ads, and incorporating the hashtag (to compete with Twitter as it originally did not use the hashtag). These different tactics have allowed Facebook to compete with email in that sponsored stories and stories from brands your friends have “liked” are directly delivered to your newsfeed, similar to email, and can offer coupons or other sales within direct links to drive you to their website.

Additionally, Twitter should be used as more of a platform for engagement, which is a completely different type of marketing all together. However, Twitter users are 3 times more likely to follow brands than Facebook users. With the average Twitter user having more income and education than those on other social platforms, they tend to do more brand following and influencing; making them a valuable source for marketers. Twitter has incorporated sponsored Tweets as a great way to get companies to show up in a newsfeed, similar to Facebook. I have definitely fallen for a sponsored Tweet, clicking on it, only to realize that marketing just got the best of me. Go Twitter!

According to this Wired article, email is crushing Facebook and Twitter in terms of sales generation. However, I think it is especially important to recognize that Facebook and Twitter do not have to have “clicks” to be effective. As the article says, social media seems to be the holy grail of conversion, I could not agree more.

I believe that both social platforms should be utilized in an effecting IMC plan.  Email is great in that it targets users directly who have chosen to be reached. Facebook is a great way to reach those potential consumers who may know loyal consumers and thus place their trust in the brand as well. Twitter is a great place to encourage influencers to reach their social group, and to utilize valuable engagement opportunities to convert potential sales to sales and loyal consumers through follow-up. Follow-up can also be done through email; however, Facebook and Twitter reach a greater audience than email and can really expand the reach of a company.

Imagine it like this: Email marketing is a marketer in a plaza handing out leaflets to those he knows as a loyal consumer. Facebook is that marketer handing a stack of leaflets to a loyal consumer to show their friends while others watch. Twitter is that same marketer handing leaflets to influencers, converting them to users who then become brand ambassadors.

Push and Pull Marketing

It’s the tug o’war of pushing your brand to consumers, and pulling them in.

Push marketing, or marketer-initiated communication, takes many forms and has many benefits. Three benefits of push marketing include:

1-    Reaching a broad audience
2-    Direct communication of brand message
3-    Getting noticed, great for new companies trying to make a name

Pull marketing, or user-initiated communication, seems to be developing and increasing with technological and social media advancement. Three benefits of pull marketing include:

1-    More calculated audiences which means potential more loyal customers
2-    Less expensive communication channels
3-    Increased interactivity compared to Pull marketing

Push and pull marketing can work together to create a synchronous marketing strategy. Push marketing is a great way to build a consumer base for your brand or product. Push marketing is valuable in directly communicating to potential consumers. Once you have established a reputation for yourself, it is easier to build on that reputation. This is where pull marketing comes in. Pull marketing, especially on Facebook, allows you to hone in on loyal customers, or those that are likely to be interested in your brand or product. Together, the two create a circle of communication and constant brand engagement. Push marketing feeds the cycle and pull marketing keeps it going.

Social media is killing websites by already having a pool of consumers that a brand is trying to reach. In this Convince and Convert article, the author made the analogy of Facebook having a cool party. He said, “[Facebook] already ha[s] access to all of your customers, so why wouldn’t you want to just ride their coattails? If there is a killer party with tons of people, a great band, and free booze it’s going to be tough to get a couple dozen people to leave to come over to your house to watch Jimmy Kimmel and eat microwave popcorn.”

Websites require constant work to keep people coming back to the brand, where as social media puts the brand in front of someone. It’s like giving someone an invitation to come try a new pizza place, or bringing someone a pizza from a new place and saying, “do you want to try it?”

According to Lab42, 50 percent of people find social media pages more useful than websites. This is due to the ease of use and simplified information. Social media pages do not allow for the amount of content that websites do, which makes them more desirable as sources of information. Social media brand pages are the CliffNotes version of a company website.

Ironically, this very benefit of social media sheds light on why websites do need to continue to exist. A social media page does not often give the option to search for nearest location, does not go into great deal on return policies, provide product comparisons, or other such information that users might want. However, a website can.

Websites may not be as trendy or easy to use as social media, just as leather bound books weren’t as trendy or easy to use in law school as the legal search software; but both need to exist to prevent an information gap.

Two companies that use push and pull marketing effectively are Back Country and Fabletics. Both companies actually reached me through pull marketing on Facebook. Each company popped up as one that a friend “liked” in my newsfeed with a sponsored ad, then as a banner ad after I checked them out. To me, that is the perfect example of a company that uses push and pull together effectively.

Backcountry uses chat windows, popups, and direct email, for its push marketing campaign; the company sponsors Facebook stories, blogs, uses banner ads, and uses social media in its pull marketing. I love that BackCountry is so interactive with its consumers through social media, and links products in their adventures back to their website.

Fabletics uses pop-ups, and direct email, for its push marketing campaign; the company sponsors Facebook stories, Google adwords, links to press on its website, uses banner ads, and uses social media in its pull marketing. I think the company does a great job of honing in on female consumers and bringing them to their social media page then back to their website to sign up for email offers, and thereby creating direct mail push marketing. It seems that their pull creates their push sometimes. Imagine that!

 

Google+ vs. Facebook

I think that both Google and Facebook have their place. Facebook seems to be bigger on a social scale, whereas Google seems to be more effective within the advertising realm. Google does a great job harnessing technology for advertising, where is grosses most of its revenue. As far as socializing, though, I have to give that one to Facebook.

My experience with Facebook is that it is a lot more popular, user-friendly, and organized. With Facebook I can easily sort groups, lists, and subscribe/unsubscribe from posts and invitations. It seems that most everyone I know has a Facebook page, while only a small number of my friends have a Google+ account, and fewer still know how to and actually use their Google+ account.  There is really no social benefit to utilizing my Google+ account since my friends are on Facebook instead. I think that Google+ has some great features like G-Chat and Hangouts, but they do not overshadow Facebook’s messenger or video chat features. I think that Facebook’s consistency and continuity makes it easy to stay in touch and up-to-date. Timeline makes it easy to go back in time, and keep up with engagements, weddings, babies, and the like. Facebook seems to be an online scrapbook for many. In order to participate in the greater social network, I find myself devoting my social networking time to Facebook. Facebook’s apps also make it easy for users to stay connected, according to the Changing the World PowerPoint, as many as 75 million views per day coming from mobile devices.

However, to say that Google carries the torch in advertising is an understatement. Google is a behemoth when it comes to advertising revenue.  According to Changing the World, Google’s advertising revenue is greater than that of the entire print industry in the United States of America. That statistic shows just how much of an impact Google advertising can, and does have.

I think that even though Facebook is behind in the advertising game, it has a lot of potential. The readings from the text described how Google advertisements target what you are looking for, building their business around search, while Facebook has build its platform around community and social networking. This article on CrazyEgg also does a great job explaining the differences between Facebook and Adwords targeting formulas. With the cost of a Facebook ad being less than a third of that of a Google advertisement, and the potential to have it “liked” on such a broad social network, there are definite benefits to Facebook advertising. However, Google still takes the cake on this one. I can honestly say that Google always gets me what I want in a search and the advertisements are on point. Facebook, on the other hand, does a good job suggesting things that I am not necessarily looking for, but may be interested in.  For example, Google helps me find shoes I want, while Facebook finds me other shoes and related apparel that might complete an outfit.