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Content, Facebook, Skunkworks, and The Walled Garden

Big is attractive. Now Facebook is so big, it’s a magnet drawing attention from otherwise reasonable people in online marketing. Facebook Facebook Facebook. It was previously Social Media, Social Media, Social Media but now it’s more specific because, well, Facebook is big. Billions big.

Whatever you’re measuring, find a smaller unit of measure so you can report bigger counts. People just love big numbers. Facebook had millions of users, but now it’s valued at Billions of dollars. Billions…. wow.

So Facebook is super important. Are you marketing on Facebook?

And then the same old  discussions begin… we have a “Facebook Page” (but don’t do anything with it). We have “Facebook friends” (but not many, and don’t do anything with them). We do some “Facebook advertising” (but most things we’ve tried didn’t produce results). Etcetera.

Take a look folks, and know your history.  Facebook is a closed community. A walled garden. Like the old AOL – America Online. It needs to be big to succeed. Huge, even. It must, or it won’t work. Big big big.. huge. Everyone is on it.. you have to be on it. Unless “just about everyone” is on it, it will disappoint. Etcetera.

So what about content? Well, why should anyone be on Facebook at all? In the beginning, if “everyone” is on it, you have to be on it. But once you’re past the “hey you’re here too? that’s cool I’m here too did you know Bob’s here also?” stage, then what? That’s right.. content.  Same old same old. Entertain me. Educate me. Adore me. Make me feel special. Or… I’l go somewhere else.

So content becomes king. Just. Like. On. The. Web.

Content? What content? Well, take a look at the reports from emarketer.com on Facebook activity. Who’s got Facebook pages? Local businesses, politicians, musicians, schools…. the top list is full of community builders or community-based efforts. That reflects the comprehensiveness part of the equation — if everyone in your group is on Facebook, you need to be on Facebook. It’s audience building.

Then look at the “Ten Largest Brands on Facebook” and you see the same thing… audience building, for branding. Coca Cola, YouTube, Skittles. What used to be done with a web page on the web and TV and other media, is now *also* done in Facebook (because a BIG community is there).

Look at what people expect from those brands with Facebook pages… “77% of new media users want brands to offer them incentives online. Additionally, 28% would like to be entertained.”

Content. Constant, attractive and engaging content to keep the audience happy. Just like on the Web. The big difference is that now your content is managed by Facebook. Your audience is “owned” by Facebook. Your web page (fan page) is owned and hosted by Facebook, who by the way can wrap it in any context it likes, etc etc etc. Just like the old AOL.

A few more quotes from that article, showing how much work is associated with publishing to Facebook to succeed on Facebook:

Coca-Cola, with 19.8 million Facebook fans, used a year-long social media campaign…to keep its Facebook page constantly updated with content posted by brand ambassadors.

Oreo launched an interactive game on its Facebook page in September…the brand jumped from 8.5 million fans in August to 15.2 million in November. The campaign continues and was also recently extended offline, with in-person events.

“Engagement, interest and constant connection keep fans coming back to a company’s Facebook fan page…”

Sounds exactly like a regular website (if you want it to succeed). So, basically, what you have to do to succeed on Facebook is the same stuff you have to do to suceed on your website. And if your organization doesn’t make and maintain compelling content on your website, will it do that on Facebook?

Sometimes I wonder if these Facebook successes really just skunkworks, and I wonder when managers will acknowledge that it is their own people that get in the way of their own people succeeding on the web (or in front of any audience for that matter).

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One Response to “Content, Facebook, Skunkworks, and The Walled Garden”

  1. Riftstalker Says:

    John, nice article. I’m not sure what your message is… Is it that marketers need to focus on building their own sites (with content, social tools, etc) and not just build “presence” on Facebook?

    I agree people should focus MORE on their site. Facebook is like a mall. A lot of people wandering back and forth. It makes sense to keep one shop there – targeted at impulsive buyers. Also, some brands do better in malls (or supermarkets) than others.

    Finally, I remember the hype when ALL companies had to build a virtual presence in Second Life. Now, SL is a red-light district no one will touch.