F Commerce And Radio
February 28, 2012
When you want to get closer to identifying and determining how to “fit into” a culture, you study, observe, and learn in order to respect the primary purpose behind the lifestyle, right?
Well, we’re all on Facebook, we’ve all seen “The Social Network,” and our stations all have Facebook pages. So what’s the big mystery? Why do so many broadcasters struggle to understand the motivations behind why people enjoy Facebook?
Jacobs Media clients will ask me if they should use Facebook as a sales vehicle. After all, that’s where everyone is, and their stations have been successful in aggregating thousands of “Likes” on Facebook brand pages.
But, if you spent any time with Facebook’s IPO filing earlier this year, you may have gained valuable insight into what this platform is all about. As someone who has been very close to Facebook over these past few years, you’ve now probably heard me say the following many, many times:
The core intent of Facebook is to strengthen how people relate to each other and to elevate their capacity to build and maintain connections.
And that’s not just for personal pages. It goes for brands that use Facebook, too. Facebook was intended to create more substantial businesses as Zuckerberg writes in his letter to potential investors in the IPO:
“... [An] open world will also encourage businesses to engage with their customers directly and authentically. More than four million businesses have Pages on Facebook that they use to have a dialogue with their customers.”
This means not spamming their “live feeds” and hoarding "Likes." The amount of “Likes” your page gathers does not equate to creating brand impact nor does it measure the quality and depth of your audience relationships.
How you behave on Facebook, the amount of people “talking about you” and serving your "Likes" is what separates you from the pack.
Too many brands – big brands – have misused Facebook, and now they’re learning from their mistakes. Ashley Sheetz, the VP of marketing and strategy at Gamestop, is one of those disappointed corporate managers, along with other top marketers from other big corporations. Now they’re beginning to realize that their mission on Facebook isn’t to sell, but to serve.
In a recent article in Bloomberg, Gamestop, JC Penney, Nordstrom and The Gap have all admitted they’ve tried to market their products with their “Facebook stores.” Lousy results have ended that practice.
Sheetz told Bloomberg in the article, "We just didn’t get the return on investment we needed from the Facebook market, so we shut it down pretty quickly ... For us, it’s [now] a way we communicate with customers on deals, not a place to sell."
That’s because the primary purpose behind the platform – the culture of Facebook - is to serve – not sell. So there are disappointed “F-commerce” companies now in the process of resetting their Facebook plans.
Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst at Forrester Research, puts it best, “[Selling stuff on Facebook is] like trying to sell stuff to people while they’re hanging out with their friends at the bar.”
The fact that brands have this “need to sell Facebook” approach is simply a basic deficiency of education in this social space. We should actually be asking ourselves this question: “What are we even doing on Facebook?
I’ve talked about this seminal scene from “The Social Network” movie before, but it’s worth sharing again. It comes down to this: What is your priceless asset?
There's a part in the movie when Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin are at odds with what do with “The Facebook.”
Just as the site starts succeeding and growing, CFO Saverin declares that "It's time to monetize the site."
And Zuckerberg asks, "What does that mean?"
Saverin's rationale goes like this: "It means it's time for the website to start generating revenue ... that means advertising." Or in other words, capitalizing on what they already perceive is something very successful.
But Zuckerberg immediately says “No" -- and here's why:
As he tells Saverin, "We don't even know what (Facebook) is yet, we don't know what it can be, and we don't know what it will be ... we know that it's cool. That is a priceless asset and I'm not giving that up."
What if radio stations took that same approach to using Facebook - that a “Like” page is a priceless asset, and that we have a fresh opportunity to build and connect with a base of fans who “like” us – just because they actually like us.
No contests, no bribes, no hype designed to simply create “listening occasions.”
Radio has built its email databases primarily with listeners who thought they were going to win something. When you bribe people to build databases – you make your brand less authentic.
If you wonder why your database response is poor or why your email “open rate” is so low, consider why most of your listeners signed up in the first place. Are they truly loyal to you – or were they just motivated to join up because of Workforce cash, that trip to Vegas, or a Harley a day in the month of May?
Radio builds relationships every day. Facebook is there to serve and strengthen those connections and assist in keeping the stations in the hands (& the hearts) of the fans – it is this unique chance to elevate the brand experience on their preferred platform.
Almost all the digital avenues from the steam to the website to podcasts to the database have a higher threshold of consumer tolerance for ads.
Facebook does not.
And as we have continued to preach, Facebook is the space radio merely “rents.” It does not “own” its Facebook pages or posts. It is wise to use this “rental” space to strengthen the digital real estate that radio “owns” – the airwaves, stream, websites, etc…
Facebook could be the most effective gateway to the digital space you own - but only when you have earned the permission to be part of your audience’s daily lives (which is their “live feeds”) by building on your station’s social value and trust.
To continue to use Facebook as a blatant promotional/sales device erodes your station’s social value because that behavior interferes with people’s experiences on Facebook and jeopardizes what could be that priceless asset.
So what about the idea of letting go, being patient, and not stressing out about monetizing something we don't even know what it is yet -- or what it can be.
Stop selling Facebook.
Reach out to me anytime on Twitter @lorilewis.
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