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Facebook fMC drops a bombshell on shameless ‘likes getting’ by brands

Tanya Goodin
Tanya Goodin
CEO
1 March 2012

Yesterday afternoon in New York, Facebook held the first ever Facebook marketing conference fMC, which aims to do for marketers and brands what f8 does for developers.

The majority of the announcements were focused around changes to the Facebook ad platform; brand “stories” (aka ads) appearing in news feeds; a new “premium” service to feature ads on mobile; and a Back To The Future-inspired  “Reach Generator” to ‘boost’ brand-page updates out to a wider audience.

However, one ‘free’ development has some interesting implications for social media brand strategy. The new ‘Timeline’-style Facebook page layouts, that have been available to individuals since late 2011, are now being extended to brands. And hidden in this seemingly innocuous announcement is a potential bombshell for brands who have been focusing their brand strategy entirely on growing their ‘likes’ numbers.

The new ‘Timeline’ layout means that while ‘tabs’ will still exist on brand  pages, the ability to push or force non-fans to a specific tab (i.e. a splash or landing  page) will no longer exist after the full roll-out on March 30th.

Writing on The Next Web, Nancy Messieh notes that eliminating these landing tabs takes away a core feature that many companies have heavily relied on to make a first impression with potential Facebook fans – and to aggressively grow their community sizes.

These companies have been focusing their strategy entirely around using a landing tab to promote a variety of contests and giveaways to grow their ‘likes’. This will no longer be an option which means companies will now have a tough time *forcing* people to like their page, and will instead have to focus much more on engagement tactics to *persuade* them.

I’m all in favour of this and many in the online world agree with me. Giancarlo Massaro, founder of AnyLuckyDay, agrees that ultimately, the new-style brand pages will now force companies to focus much more on user engagement as they develop their Facebook strategy rather than shameless likes getting. “You could have 50,000 likes or 5,000 likes, what matters is the amount of engagement,” Massaro says, and I agree.  We’ve seen average ‘fan value’ (revenue per fan) for brands just plummet when community sizes are being aggressively grown by these artificial tactics.

Existing brand customers are also hugely turned-off by an aggressive focus on luring new ‘likes’ to a brand page at the expense of time and money spent on improving customer service through social media and growing customer satisfaction through engagement.

Facebook appears to be forcing a massive and much-needed focus shift in 2012, with all companies now needing to be focusing much less on growing their ‘Likes’ and focusing much more on engaging with the fans and customers that they already have. And those customers will of course then generate new ‘likes’ organically for them via their enthusiastic recommendations.  As far as I am concerned that can only be good news for all of us as both marketers and consumers.

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