Facebook microsite disease: back to the future in digital marketing

Not sure if you know the feeling that you run into an article / blog post and you realize that it says exactly what you are trying to say for quite some time. That moment, you feel some sort of relief because you know that out there, there are other persons that are as intelligent and smart as you are. Finally !!!! (It’s a joke for those who didn’t get that). I had this feeling when I read the post on Going Social Now the other day.

The post talks about the fact that Facebook is infected by the “microsite disease” by most marketers. The post covers the topic in 10 signs that show that you’re infected. Here they are:

1. Your Creative Director emphasizes brand consistency over everything else. He wants the Facebook presence to look exactly like the corporate websites and the microsites too. That matters above developing a meaningful conversation on the Facebook page.

I guess that creative director also insists on using the same tone of voice as on the corporate website. This really means you don’t have any clue who you’re talking too on what touchpoint … It is indeed cheaper and easier to duplicate the content on all touchpoints, but maybe your audience doesn’t really matter. A good example of this was the first Coca-Cola page on Facebook, where they used a very corporate tone, that wasn’t appreciated.  So even marketing giants can make mistakes.

2. Your Facebook page includes tabs that have no ability for consumers to participate. A Facebook tab without social interaction is a brochure and not meant for Facebook. Take it out. Don’t design against the ethos of Facebook.

Isn’t this a missed opportunity? You can find a lot of tabs hosting a static image that, when clicking on the image, they send you to an external website / microsite. If you ask me, that’s called a banner. And not even a rich banner but a static boring banner, like the ones we saw in the 90’s.

3. The Wall is locked down preventing consumers from starting and joining conversations. The Wall is the killer application of Facebook pages and it is in the brand’s best interest to promote social interaction there. Ignoring it is a mistake.

Why did you create a page in the first stage? What are you actually looking for? Agreed, it is a lot easier and doesn’t require any additional efforts on monitoring the page.

4. The Facebook page does not leverage social graph functionality. Every time I’m asked to do something on Facebook, I want to see whether any of my friends have performed that task and if I do enjoy performing the task I’d like to have the ability to invite other friends to do so. Seems straightforward but a lot of brands still ignore this.

Aren’t we influenced by our peers? If a friend or a connection likes the page / app, we’re more likely to at least have a closer look at it. Jeremiah Owyang describes this as the era of Social Colonisation. In the description of the era, he stated that it would be at a maturity stage in 2011, well maybe you’re not obliged to respect all of it … You’re allowed to be ahead!

5. There’s a campaign mindset driving the Facebook execution. You know you’ve got a problem when all the tabs are named after marketing campaigns and there’s no overarching messaging or story that stitches them together. A conversation with consumers is not about throwing campaigns at them.

6. The Facebook page serves simply as a hub to house campaigns that are born on other platforms and channels. A lot of marketers still forget that the social platforms provide the best value when unique, platform specific strategies and executions are deployed. Just because something was a great TV campaign it doesn’t mean it should reside on the FB page in the same manner.

Agreed because if all your campaigns are on there in a static way without interaction whatsoever it misses the point indeed. A campaign can be integrated in a tab if there is a social interaction, an added value for the “Liker”. But … It’s already a good point that they’ve integrated it in a tab and not created a different group / page for each campaign which is an even bigger disaster. For some strategic reasons, you can decide to create a different touchpoint because there is a different audience and a different tone. But a brand can’t have an unlimited number of fans, so why create different groups for different campaigns? What’s the long term benefit of such an approach? Even in the short term I can’t see any benefits. You have to build your new community from scratch without benefitting from what already exists and all the hard work you already put into it?

7. The Facebook page has closer synergies to a display media campaign than it does to your mobile strategy. Display media plays a very important role in the marketer’s arsenal. Don’t get me wrong. But it is a different beast to your Facebook efforts. Engagement ads on Facebook help the pages much more. And over the long run, your mobile strategy will need to work with your Facebook executions most closely.

The media part is indeed quite important (see the Value of a Fan) but the idea is to keep them as a fan and not make them leave because you’re spamming him with irrelevant information.

8. You ignore the fact that the Facebook page presence should reach into all your digital ecosystem via the Facebook Graph API. Take a look at Levi’s website as an example of what I mean. They use the “Like” buttons effectively on all their product pages.

Maybe the Levi’s example takes this a bit too far for most brands, but by integrating facebook (such as other domains, like the blog, Twitter, the Youtube channel) you add some credibility to the page and “officialize” your presence on those domains even more. Another advantage is that you can generate traffic more easily from the one to the other and avoid making Google even richer …

9. Your Facebook page is used just as a content aggregator. It’s a little scary but in the digital marketing world we like to think of hubs and spokes a bit too much. The website used to be the hub for the brand online and now many think Facebook should be. There’s one problem with that – pages that simply aggregate content and conversations from elsewhere aren’t good for building community and starting fresh conversations.

It would be a lot cheaper to just add an RSS feed on you site where you can spam people. Agreed, it’s not that sexy and trendy, but it has the same effect. It’s also quite arrogant if you ask me, because you basically don’t care about who they are.

10. You’re anonymous on your Facebook page. In my book I outlined the importance in building social voices – real, authentic people speaking on behalf of your brand for you online. That must translate to your Facebook page too. If I don’t know who’s doing the talking it’ll feel even more like a microsite experience than a Facebook one.

This is a real topic. As most companies, especially in Europe, don’t have a personification of social media internally, they outsource it to their agency. They obviously don’t want an agency guy be the “vitrine” of the brand on social media. It also means that most (European) companies don’t pay enough attention to Social Media. Apart from the fact that most brands don’t have the budget (yet) for such a job, they are also still trying to figure out who should take the lead internally (which department) as well as externally (which agency). Even if I agree, I think it’s still a bit too early to judge companies on this. Not all companies keep up the pace like Ford does.  To quote another famous automotive guy “The power comes from inside” (C. Ghosn). This is a hard fact, even more on the social media topic!

On a more general level, I’m wondering why we aren’t learning from our mistakes. I have the feeling that everything we fought for on the web, doesn’t exist any longer because there is a new thing out there and we can freely do whatever we want.

Just like we tried to centralize and unify the web presence with arguments that say:

Breaks in the purchase funnel,

Incoherent brand presence

Unclear destinations,

So all of a sudden, because it’s social media, it’s allowed?

We keep on, well let’s say, the agencies keep on creating fan pages and social media touchpoints without any integration within the digital landscape, but on the other hand, they slam our heads around with social media hubs and digital ecosystems.

A brand can’t have a zillion fans so why spread them around. It’s hard to manage, it brings no added value and in the end half of the pages are inactive. This can also be an advantage; because fans won’t leave your page that easily because they don’t know you exist. But to compare with the web a couple of years ago, you can have the most beautiful website in the world, if nobody knows about it, nobody will come so why hide it?

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3 thoughts on “Facebook microsite disease: back to the future in digital marketing

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Facebook microsite disease: back to the future in digital marketing « Talk Digital -- Topsy.com

  2. Pingback: The Campaign Site—Please Rest In Peace | DOKTOR SPINN

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