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An open letter to (the new) Facebook | Slangbusters Blog
Nov 12, '19

An open letter to (the new) Facebook

The good, bad and ugly of the platform- from a brand owner's perspective.

Dear Facebook, Voila! You have an awesome fan following. I mean, look at you, 2.41 billion monthly users (as of the second quarter of 2019). That isn't a small thing. And only shows that you are one of the biggest social media networks worldwide (Source: Statista). Ouch, then others just came floating by. 'Did you check out the new ad on Instagram?' or 'What does your pinboard look like?' I am sure you must have come across such comments on your platform. Did it hurt? Guess not. Because even though hundreds of hashtags are created every millisecond, so many tweets are published in the blink of an eye; you, my dearest, still win hearts of brand owners (mostly) across all industries.

Over the years, you have turned into a personal, product and corporate marketing hub (now don't get too flattered). Your social graph is filled with CEOs, celebrities, entrepreneurs and start-ups who can make use of your messaging system without any limitations. You are also a talent search engine for internship opportunities, collaborations, recruitments and more.

You offer every brand just the same. Whether it is my all-time favorite - Gucci or everybody's all-time favorite - Victoria's Secret, you provide the same core features and benefits. You give them all equal options to create a page, share resources, add multimedia and so much more!

Photo by Trent Szmolnik on Unsplash

Just so you know, you have a unique opportunity to leverage yourself for brand success or as a campfire for friends and acquittances to come and sing by. Then why do I have to raise this question? About you still being a relevant medium for brand owners? Is it because Twitter is getting better or LinkedIn is introducing new filters? Or perhaps this question is more for the brand owners to pause the wheel, breathe at their current strategies and see how their branding efforts are sailing. Yeah, you are still the all-time classic medium for brand owners only if they know how to rein their stallions.

Do you think brand owners know the kind of users you have?

How boring it would be to know who went to pee (how many times) in a day or what did this guy at the corner of the street do to piss off his girlfriend. All this irrelevant information would be weighing you down. 'Why don't you put me to some good use?' I can imagine you talking in your head! And I agree.

Brand owners must have come across something like this while conversing with a strategic consultant? 'So what platform do you prefer?' 'Do you want me to create an Instagram strategy or a Facebook strategy for you?' Now, can't you just post the same content on both these platforms? Why create different stuff for different platforms? No, you can't and that's because there is a wide difference between the kind of people who use Instagram and Facebook. It is like chalk and cheese.

Digital data reflects that while both these platforms have a good number of users, there are more active users on Facebook between the age of 25–34. Instagram on the other hand has a younger audience mainly 18–24 years old, men and women. For instance, if you're trying to reach women from younger generations, that is Generation Z and Millennials, you might want to keep the bait on Instagram.

Brand owners should evaluate what age group their product or service will appeal to. For instance, if they want to sell maternity clothes online what is the ideal platform for them? My dear Facebook, you've got yourself a win-win! Have a better-defined target audience.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

To the brand owners: Don't jump from Facebook to Instagram and all of a sudden to another social media channel. Just because Instagram works for your competitor; doesn't mean it will work for you too. Compare your products, your communication and brand guidelines, before you nail down which channel is more relevant for your brand. If you want to play safe, stick to Facebook while you try your hands on other mediums as well.

Do you think brand owners have their brand strategy in place before they sign up?

'Howdie, brand owner! Do you have a Facebook branding strategy in place?', Yes, dear Facebook, you must be asking this question before they talk about your relevancy in the branding world. A Facebook brand strategy shouldn't be based on the target audience alone; it also depends on an individual's life goals (a bit too far-fetching, but true). Depending upon what the brand is selling, what value it offers and how it appeals to the audience; businesses might want to position themselves differently. It's a good idea for brand owners to start analyzing how their brand is portrayed and take steps to customize it to reflect the branding strategy.

They say the only thing that is constant is change! Back then when you were just born in 2004, most brands used different advertising appeals to woo the customers. Celebrities came floating by and influencers were pushed on the stage. These bygone strategies have been updated to fit you into the picture. So what's new? One most applicable use of your platform for both parties is that people most likely depend on the reviews they read on social media pages, testimonials or advice they seek from friends, relatives or perhaps colleagues. One can build a brand strategy wherein, user-based content is generated to bring traffic to the Facebook page. This could involve authentic customer photos of previous buyers. Truly, this works more than polished images created by marketing departments.

Let's look at this awestruck example of Pawstruck. The brand's Facebook ads performed amazingly well because everyone loves to look at cute pictures of puppy pets. By integrating UGC into their campaigns, they took this adoration to another level. Pawstruck used people's images with their pets from other social channels like Instagram and Twitter (with their permission, of course) and implemented them in a carousel ad format along with reviews.

Kind of a double whammy of UGC. But who got ahead of the game? Facebook and Pawstruck made a killer combination! Isn't it Facebook?

To the brand owners: If that model you hired did not work, try capturing someone who walks into your store. Your customer will be happy for sure. They will be your influencer and generate lots of traction. Facebook's relevance for your brand hasn't yet decreased; your content strategy might not be working.

Do you think brand owners know there's more to you than what appears?

Optimizing feeds, narrowing down the target - it's pretty common. But what are those other benefits that you offer and brands are paying a blind eye. Yes, I am talking about Groups. 'Having a group could be daunting', did you just hear someone saying that? But don't worry, brand owners find it of great value and have been exploiting them for good.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

In reality, groups fetch more engagement than Facebook's pages itself. These groups enable members to kickstart conversations more seamlessly as compared to a brand's page. One might see it as a broader shift away from public sharing to discussions in a more closed and private space. Nevertheless, users find it safer to talk freely about their experiences in a group. A Facebook group provides extra value for customers, which means it's a space for more deep-diving subjects or a testing ground for new ideas.

As a brand, you've got to be engaging. Groups give you that leverage. Besides your page, it's another way for your audience to connect with you and with each other.

A group also creates a sense of community. As compared to threads and comments, Facebook groups enable businesses to build strong bonds, especially when they lack the technology to build a community within the brand's website. Needless to say, groups also create a sense of exclusiveness. Every customer wants to feel special right? Private groups on Facebook provide just that. Facebook Groups are one of the many such strategies that brands can implement.

As a brand success, Peleton is a superfine example. Its official closed group has more than 168,000 members. Their membership growth in the group far out spaced bike sales, as existing members invited their friends, family members and colleagues to join this optimistic and supportive community. Did Peleton achieve something? Perhaps, brand recall value, a greater number of fans and even indirect sales.

Photo by Jonny Kennaugh on Unsplash

Hello brands, pay heed: Facebook places 'Groups' at the center of its App. Why do you think so? Break the barriers of conventional approaches and try new stuff. You can't be shifting mediums, but you can explore its several features and then use what works.

Your new DNA is killing

How are brands created? Businesses differentiate themselves with a unique name, killer communication or even a flashy logo. But what if none of this reaches those for whom it is crafted? So obviously when organizations have perfect brand guidelines and have started stemming in the market, they need the much-craved brand visibility.

Your new algorithm, which I call Facebook's new DNA provides businesses just that. And that makes it perhaps the most used and most relevant social media channels across all industries. What's this new DNA like? But before this, what this algorithm actually is? Well, social media channels use algorithms to give businesses a more enriching experience where people can see more posts that they like and less of irrelevant stuff (from your aunt). When it comes to Facebook, this is how it's algorithm works and gives your brand that much-needed break.

Engagement: Posts with more hearts and comments go first

Relevancy: The genres of posts most relevant to the users come on top

Relationships: Posts from accounts that the user interacts with more often rank higher. This explains why you should post your company's stuff from your personal profile too

Timeliness: Obviously, recent posts are ranked higher

Profile searches: Posts from accounts that users regularly search to gain greater visibility

Direct shares: Posts from accounts the user directly shares are ranked above. Also, the person who receives the shared posts gets a rank boost on his or her post

Time spent per post: Visibility is also based upon the time spent actually looking at a post

If brand owners know how this simple algorithm works, they aren't too far away from the limelight.

Dear Facebook, when you bought Instagram in 2012, did you think you are training another successor? Back then, this acquisition was a bold move and business owners only thought that you are dying. But to be fair, Instagram or any other social media platform for that matter can't compete with you on the sheer number of users. When entrepreneurs think of brand expansion, rebranding or even just creating a sub-brand, the first move they make is creating social media presence. Even today, brand owners log into their Facebook accounts first or perhaps they use an app and keep logged in all the time. So, is your importance in the branding world perishing?

The elephant in the room

With Twitter updating the marketer's policy by banning all kinds of political advertising and the scar on your brand with the whole Cambridge Analytica scandal- the marks of which will not fade, at least not until you shift focus from solely profiteering (yes, we noticed the sudden spike in the number of advertisements on Instagram right after you bought it) to a creator centric approach.

Gen Z and Millennials know when they are marketed to, and they don't like being the consumers of advertisement overload. Maybe that is why they moved to Instagram and the audience on your platform is the older generation (mostly). Not having the youngest generation on your platform might prove fatal because they are the future users of any platform.

So again, are brands no more considering Facebook in their branding strategies? Maybe.

Personally, I think not. Most of them only need to know your functionalities better. They need to spend some time learning your tools and getting acquainted with your features.

Brands run behind masses and you've got that superpower. So my dear Facebook, keep calm. Maybe, more brands from 2020 are on their way.

— A user.

Did you know, not only advertising but branding also considers social media as a part of the ideal branding process before all aspects of the brand go to the marketing department. Want to know more about what else branding can do for your brand? Contact us now.

— by Tasneem Baldiwala, Freelance Content Writer, Slangbusters Studio

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