Facebooks Needs to Take Marketing Seriously

My colleague Nate Elliott and I have been thinking about the Facebook IPO. Our thoughts:

The world’s biggest social network will complete its initial public offering in a few days, with a valuation based largely on its strong history of innovation. But we have to wonder: Will Facebook ever focus any of that innovation on helping marketers?

After all, Facebook is fantastic at introducing great new features and services for its end users. The moment another social tool gains the interest of enough users – whether it’s Twitter’s rapid public chatter or Foursquare’s location-based check-ins – Facebook updates its own site to offer similar features to its legions of users. We’ve rarely seen a company borrow from its competition as quickly or as well as Facebook. And that focus on better serving end users has seen Facebook grow quickly over the years, even in the face of consistent privacy concerns.

But as good as Facebook has been at evolving to serve consumers, that’s how bad it’s been at serving marketers. In the past five years Facebook has lurched from one advertising model to another. Remember when the site charged marketers to host branded pages? Or when every page featured banners from MSN’s ad network? (You may choose to forget Facebook Beacon; Mark Zuckerberg would certainly prefer you did.)

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How Is Social Media Changing Your Brand Strategy?

How many times have you been asked, “What’s your social strategy?” As Facebook’s IPO grabs the headlines, and new social sites like Pinterest and Tumblr grab consumers’ attention, many marketers are wrestling with what brand building looks like in today’s social world. But the real question you should be asking yourself is, “How does social media change your brand strategy?”  

Marketing leaders now view social media as critical for brand building. In our February 2012 Marketing Leadership Online Survey, nine out of 10 marketing leaders told us that social media is fundamentally changing how brands are being built in the 21st century. In fact, they view it as second only to search for brand building. But many are still struggling to determine how to integrate it into their marketing plans. The truth is, while social is a great new tool, it lacks the power to build a brand alone. Marketing leaders such as Coca-Cola and JetBlue recognize this and are integrating social with paid and owned media to build a 21st century brand experience. In my new report, "How Social Media Is Changing Brand Building," I identify three ways social media can help marketers harness the power of social to build their brand by 1) building a relationship to become more trusted; 2) differentiating through an emotional connection to become more remarkable; and 3) nurturing loyal fans to become more essential.   

How is social changing your brand building strategy? What challenges are you facing in the social brand building world? Comment here, or join the conversation in our community of marketing leaders.

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