With so many new digital platforms available to marketers, is Facebook still important? The Drum’s Ishbel Macleod looks at recent brand campaigns on Facebook and talks to the network itself about marketing on the platform.
It was recently revealed in a survey by US based Pew Research Centre that two thirds of Facebook users have taken a break from the social networking site, with these breaks normally lasting for several weeks at a time.
And long gone are the days when social media simply consisted of Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, with brands now making use of Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, Google+ and a whole host of other platforms in order to create different messages and competitions.
Kathy Dykeman, EMEA measurement solutions group lead at Facebook, argues however that the network is still important for brands. She tells The Drum: “Facebook marketing is about leveraging reach – helping brands to reach the right audience with the right message at scale. Once brands can pinpoint the audience they want to target we see great results.”
Dykeman cites a cross-media campaign by Nestlé Maggi in Germany as an example. The combination of distribution via three mediums – Facebook Page posts, print ads and TV ads – resulted in a significant sales uplift for the brand.
“In short,” explains Dykeman, “Facebook increases the impact of other mediums – those that saw both the Facebook and TV ad were impacted 54 per cent more than the sum of individual impacts of either medium. For us, it’s all about showing brands that if synergy can be created across various media platforms, they will see results.”
Monopoly recently showed that Facebook could still be useful for brands by running a campaign giving its Facebook fans the chance to choose which game token should be scrapped, and what it should be replaced with. The competition saw fans in over 120 countries vote, with the iron being replaced by the cat.
Eric Nyman, global brand leader for Hasbro Gaming, says: “The impetus for the worldwide vote came from chatter on Facebook, where Monopoly has more than 10 million fans.
“We’re constantly interacting with these fans and there is often chat about favourite tokens and indeed new token suggestions, so when we decided to replace a token in the classic Monopoly game, we thought we’d put it to the vote and get fans to decide.
“We’ve had a phenomenal amount of fun with the “Save Your Token” campaign on Facebook, grown our fan base and created really engaging content for both new and existing fans to enjoy.”
Kit Kat meanwhile has re-launched its Choose A Chunky Champion campaign, with fans voting to save their favourite of four newly unveiled chocolate bars.
“The use of characters who the public can get behind, the limited voting period, and the fact that only one will survive, help make this campaign engaging and successful through the line,” a spokesperson for the brand said.
Facebook maintains that marketing campaigns should not be measured on click-throughs alone, and has suggested that reach, resonance, reaction and consumer action must all be taken into account in order to measure if a campaign is successful.
Dykeman insists: “What’s key is a combination of organic reach, paid reach and viral reach which will result in the delivery of compelling content to the right people.”
However, Andy Roberts, group programme director at KISS, suggests that Facebook is losing some of its edge as a marketing tool for brands: “You can’t ignore its size and what it has achieved, but dare I say Facebook is old news. Yes, it’s part of the marketing mix of tools we use within KISS to talk to the audience and it formed the basis of our ‘Hear it, See it, Share it’ strategy, but I would say that its role is less as time moves on.”
Those brands which remain on Facebook are making sure that they perform the best for their fans, with research from Socialbakers finding that brands are responding faster than ever to comments made on the platform: down from an average of 20.9 hours in Q2 of 2012 to 13.7 hours in Q4 2012. The alcohol vertical ranked last for response rate in the industry report, responding to only 29.7 per cent of comments; compared to the airline industry which responded in 74.1 per cent of cases. The research also found that 55 per cent of fan questions were answered on brands’ Facebook pages in Q4, compared to 30 per cent in Q2.
Alex Packham, social media manager at NOW TV, suggests that there are two key schools of thought when it comes to Facebook marketing: “For big brands there are currently two approaches towards Facebook marketing; it’s either your main social channel, or your ‘tick along’ channel. Facebook’s strategy towards businesses currently means social marketers have to either dedicate significant level of spend to maximising activity, or rely on the (minimal) organic results that can be achieved without spend. Anything in the middle of this is a wasted opportunity as Facebook’s advertising system and Edgerank algorithm sway so strongly to paid amplification, anything in the middle will be drowned out by the heavy investors.
“That said, Graph Search is the first welcome addition to its product portfolio for consumers and businesses alike for a while – Google search will remain the primary discovery tool for products and services, but consumers will look to ‘sense check’ their results against recommendation’s by friends based on their social data, which could be found using Graph Search, and that becomes a very powerful opportunity for businesses indeed.”
While there are mixed views on Facebook marketing, it does seem like the platform is staying strong, and those who continue to use it aim to continue to push boundaries and communicate with their followers.
This piece is part of The Drum's social supplement, published in partnership with Yomego.