Hi there. I'm Matt. Don't hate the player. Hate the game.1

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Dec 16, 2008 | Comments

There has been a lot of criticism of Facebook lately, mostly because a general manager of interactive promotion at Proctor and Gamble said, “I really don’t want to buy any more banner ads on Facebook.”

P&G, the world’s advertising leader, made a bold statement about Facebook. They tested Facebook’s sales pitch–that consumers can “interact” with brands via applications and pages. Conclusion? Not so positive.

Proponents of Facebook like using words such as conversation, dialogue, interaction, etc. Yet, I have not witnessed any promotion that has successfully had a “dialogue” with consumers that translates into conversions.

Example: Crest White Strips

Fans: 9,000
Total engagements: 870 wall posts (30 per month), <100 discussion board posts.

Example: Bank of America, America’s Cheer

Fans: 3,712
Total Engagements: <200 discussion posts

Dialogue? Conversation? To pay for the creative-build and maintenance, I estimate the cost per interaction well over $1. Also, consider the number of fans for the crest campaign:

The promotion began in fall 2006, when P.& G. invited Facebook members in 20 college campus networks to become Crest Whitestrips “fans” on the product’s Facebook Page. Facebook said it was a great success, attracting 14,000 fans.One could argue, however, that with the additional enticements that Crest provided — thousands of free movie screenings, as well as sponsored Def Jam concerts — a brand of hemorrhoid cream could have attracted a similar number of nominal “fans.” (via NY Times)

Why the lack of conversation? I believe it has a lot to do with the structure. Facebook pages are walled gardens–having a discussion on a Facebook page requires constant maintenance–it’s like chatting through blog posts rather than AIM or Gchat–not so efficient.

Thought Experiment: should a Laundry Detergent brand (i.e., Tide Ultra 2x) use Facebook Pages?

“ I have been saying these things for two years now…no one wants to be a friend of laundry detergent. I don’t care what you do, what you say, what you give me…I am never going to be friends with a cleaning liquid. BUT I AM GOING TO BUY THE PRODUCT…I LIKE CLEAN CLOTHES. ” (via Lotame Learnings)

If you’re going to have “discussion” or “dialogue,” it probably should not be centered around selling a product or advertising a sweepstakes/promotion. Would you post on a discussion board or wall for promotion of Tide Ultra 2x? I cannot think of a compelling reason.

Successful brand conversations, however, are occuring at record pace, especially on Twitter. Comcastcares should be a role-model for successful consumer engagement. Comcast does not focus on converting customers or engaging users in a sweepstakes, but rather seeks out customers already vocalizing their opinions of comcast through blogs, tweets, accounts, etc. Until Facebook understands this level of corporate engagement and builds the neccessary structure (i.e., something better than “Fan Pages”), I’ll stay short on Facebook.

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  • I agree Matt- I'm a huge proponent of social media outreach, but when it's appropriate. I feel like a lot of people who only plan social media marketing lose sight of the fact that sometimes, people just don't want to have a relationship with certain things (the laundry detergent is priceless!), and they ignore other channels - like, retail. While dialogues are warm and fuzzy, if you have a product that people don't really want to talk about, you could probably do something more effective.

    Fun fact: I've seen the media agency that did the Crest Whitestrips Facebook thing present it as a best practices case study.

  • I totally agree--FB is a great way to get your name out there. But creating a Facebook page doesn't mean that people will visit your content spontaneously. If Crest wants to communicate its promotions, why not use a more effective medium? There a many new media channels emerging to reach people (RSS, Twitter, Targeted Email, Widgets). Facebook should probably be another box to check off, but I don't think that the effort drives any type of "dialouge," as Facebook claims.

    The comcastcares link directs to their twitter page. Here's a link to an article about it.

  • I don't know . . . I feel like it's less about interaction and more about just having your name out there and on the pages (I know I sometimes click on ads on FB. The fact that I actually notice ads on FB but not on regular webpages or even Gmail must say something).

    For Crest, for example, it's a great way for them to communicate to people about these concerts and movie screenings, etc. I feel like they're going to be doing these promos anyway and using FB as a way to get people to go to them. I agree that FB fanpages aren't exactly interactive, but with kids going off-TV, how else are they going to reach people?

    I can't open the comcastcares link, but it sounds like just a place for people who already use Comcast to talk about service, etc., not potential new customers.

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