Thursday, February 24, 2011

Research with no backbone really grinds my gears.

We’re living in some pretty exciting times these days. It’s incredibly exciting to be able to understand how to deal with the changes, looking at potential impacts and working out where companies can use these changes to their own and their customers’ advantage. There’s a running theme through most of the changes and developments – being open, sharing, being a useful tool. Technology has very much become about finding ways to create value for everyone.

However, in the positively charged times of change we live in we encounter two camps. Those who really are wise and insightful in assessing the changes in the multimedia landscape and then are those who prey on the meek and weak. The ones who don’t really know how to understand what’s upon us and lap up anything from anyone who seems confident enough.

The latest experience of the second kind comes in the form of some research from WongDoody with the accompanying article from MediaPost:

Big Brands Not Making Most Of Facebook

The vast majority of top brands are on Facebook -- but they aren't doing enough to engage consumers through the site, suggests a new study by agency WongDoody. Of the top 100 brands as determined by Interbrand's Best Global Brands 2010 rankings, 84 have dedicated Facebook pages, with an average of 1.8 million fans.

My first question is Huh? So many brands have different requirements and objectives, what about understanding those first before you give these apparent hard rules on using FB and why just FB? And so what If you have 1.8 million fans. If you aren’t getting any sales in return it’s pretty much a waste of time!

Full of holes, misuse of analytical data and the potential to mislead the meek and weak. The top line glaring problems for me are:

Not all companies need Facebook
Different platforms have different attributes. Some work better for some kinds of categories and others not so much. Facebook isn’t and shouldn’t be the measuring stick. Companies should be assessing if they need to use social media, will they get ROI and where should they go to get that ROI.
Facebook may be great for companies with a high consumer focus but I’d strongly suggest against a parent company like GE going out guns blazing on Facebook in the hopes that everyone loves a parent company.
The bottom line here is Facebook does work when you’re a company with a strong consumer focus and you have the opportunity to utilize the leisure medium as it’s intended.

You can be sporadic or absent on social media
Contrary to popular belief, brands don’t have to be social-media-active all the time.
Once I worked on a shampoo brand and no one in the outside world cares that much about shampoo. It washes their hair and that’s about it. For this company the recommendation was about matching their resource to the intended objectives. They entered into the space when they attracted the most engagement from their audience, subsequently building a strong and effective path to purchase. And you know what? It worked!
Most people don’t care about brands that much. They’re also busy. Be realistic about what your resources allow and what your audience can actually digest. Disclosure/communication and managing expectation is a wonderful thing. If you can only contribute content every so often let your potential audience know. It can’t hurt and they’ll know why you only post once a month.

Giving up control is really about managing risk
Companies have more control in social media than they think. The real issue is not letting a person say anything they want on a Facebook wall. It’s really about how a company reacts to commentary or what companies choose to initiate. This is often where companies fall down by deciding to open up a can of worms instead of realising that by ‘not sinking to the level’, they could have let those comments slip into social media oblivion.
Interacting on social media platforms with the larger community means companies should consider different reactionary scenarios and how to react if X, Y or Z happens. They should prepare guidelines on how to react for different types of comments. Often that involves being patient and waiting for the people to speak up. In the end, it’s just simple PR.

Look at that! No smoke, no mirrors and real information to help those that need it. There’s no need to put the pressure on and give companies the idea that if they don’t have a sizeable number of completely active Facebook fans they will drown. It just isn’t true.

The lyrics of "I'm doing 100 on the highway, so if you do the speed limit get the fuck out of my way" really resonates here.