A new Altimeter Group report identifies eight success criteria for Facebook page marketing — and points out that brands have a long way to go applying those criteria successfully. I encourage marketers to read it. The report is free, and Altimeter is a leading authority. (Note: my employer Razorfish was among the 34 contributors.) Now that I’ve read the report, I have a few observations of my own:
- The very existence of the report is significant. It wasn’t too long ago when social media pundits questioned whether brands even have a rightful place in the social world. It wasn’t cool to suggest that a big corporation can and should use social to build its brand. “People want to talk with other people, not brands,” was the conventional wisdom. But conventional wisdom was wrong. Consumers are happy to interact with brands — in-store, online, and yes, in the social world. But as the report points out, companies need a lot of help figuring out the rules of the game for social branding. By identifying eight critical success factors for Facebook page marketing, Altimeter seeks to help define those rules. For instance, brands need to participate in a dialog. SAP regularly responds to posts on its Facebook wall with meaningful comments from a real person. Sounds like common sense, right? And yet only half companies assessed by Altimeter were deemed to have achieved “maturity” for participating in dialogue. But I wonder if the social media pundits share some of the responsibility for the lack of maturity for putting so much emphasis on empowering consumers and not enough on helping companies also become empowered?
- I noticed the report did not identify transparency as a success factor. The omission of transparency again shows how social is maturing. There was a time when transparency was all the rage — as if being confessional was a requirement for effective branding in the social world. But being transparent does not equate to being a good marketer. Look at Apple — a great brand because it retains a mystique by not giving away too much. Unfortunately, tansparency has become a catch-all for marketers too lazy to exercise good judgment and discretion. Marketers need not reveal how the sausage is made or invite consumers to explore every nook and cranny of their products and services in order to be effective. Instead, I like how Altimeter advocates authenticity — for example revealing the names of people from your company who are interacting with consumers on your Facebook page. Or making sure the people who manage your Facebook page write their own replies to customers using a conversational tone rather than outsourcing the conversation to someone else and claiming it as your own. But, more so than having an authentic style? Being authentic to your brand. And therein lies a crucial difference between authenticity and transparency. A company that wishes to maintain a mystique about its brand should exercise greater discretion about what and how much it says. (By the way, Augie Ray of Forrester Research discusses the difference between authenticity and transparency here.)
The complete success factors:
For more analysis, check out this blog post by author Jeremiah Owyang.