Facebook: the fine line between fresh marketing and grand failure

Picture the boardroom.

Overzealous agency in one corner, creative pitch in full swing, prospective client in the other corner, lost in the swathe of marketing acronyms: (PPC, AVE, ROI, SEO, USP.)

Then a word is uttered which everyone seems to understand: Facebook. That magical proper noun which we all know is the answer to life, the mysteries of the universe and everything online.

Suddenly all are in agreement: A Facebook campaign will make the unsexy – desirable, the boring- exciting and convert currently unsalable products into hotcakes. It is the veritable magic wand of the web.

Unfortunately, a few notable Facebook fails have shown everyone just what can happen when nearsighted profiteering is combined with an agency’s ill conceived Facebook campaign.

Consider the Westfield campaign of Christmas 2009. The retailer’s agency created a Facebook specific application which loaded the phrase “All I Want for Christmas is a Westfield Gift Card” into user’s status updates.  The app was initially wildly popular, with a whopping 200,000 users signing up to win the $10,000 gift card on offer.

But within hours of the competition going live there were hate groups popping up en masse slaying Westfield for taking over Facebook as well as accusations the application contravened Facebook’s own regulations which state:

“In the rules of the promotion, or otherwise, you will not condition entry to the promotion upon taking any action on Facebook, for example, updating a status, posting on a profile or Page, or uploading a photo.”

Post campaign the agency responsible surely presented Westfield’s Execs with a glowing array of numbers and ROI figures and proclaimed Facebook as the risen Christ, but there are no metrics Westfield can use to measure the damage done.

So is there hope for businesses eager to deliver their message on Facebook?  Fear not because the answer is yes. 

I was surprised when the mega promotion machine for Tooheys’ Five Seeds Cider rolled out with billboard advertising directing users to http://www.facebook.com/5Seeds.

I trawled the page, earnestly hoping to witness a consumer led backlash against Lion Nathan for pushing their dirty corporate agenda onto Facebook users while fostering dangerous attitudes about binge drinking among our youth.  But my hopes were quickly destroyed by waves of uber-positive comments on their fan page.

  • Such a good apple cider- good on you!!
  • Currently enjoying one… ahhh!!
  • Yay I love that there’s a fan club :)!
  • I love it, bring it to NZ!! I don’t want to wait 6 months till I can have another!!
  • This would have to be my favourite bevo of all time. LOVE IT!

The old adage ‘look before you leap’ gets wheeled out a great deal in relation to social media, but it continues to prove itself as worthwhile advice.  With this in mind, consider the tips below before jumping into your facebook campaign, and best of luck.

Identify Facebook’s Strengths

Facebook gives businesses the opportunity to reach their audience in a variety of ways, but some approaches are more effective than others. Direct sales, for example, are tough. The strength of Facebook advertising is in building an ongoing relationship with your customer. If you’re not interested in this then perhaps steer clear.

Set up a fan page

Since we’re building relationships with the Facebook audience, you’ll want to give them a way to reach out to you. Social advertising, after all, is a two-way street. Luckily, Facebook’s Fan Pages are built with these relationships in mind.

More Ads, Less People

Advertisers are used to creating an ad that targets everyone, then testing to create effective variations. While this tactic is fantastic for Google, it may be expensive and ineffective on Facebook.

Instead, consider creating highly targeted ads for your Facebook campaigns. Ad copy should speak directly to the audience, and each ad should take advantage of the variety of different targeting factors Facebook provides.

Write Engaging, Creative Ads

Make sure your ads are clear, concise and tell the audience exactly what to do. If you’re driving traffic to a fan page, your copy should appeal to the audience that shares relevant interests and entice them to find out more about you. If you’re driving traffic to a standard landing page, make sure your copy gives the audience a reason to leave Facebook, even temporarily.