Facebook is Not a Loyalty Program for Brands
The other day, I wrote a sizable post over on the Badgeville blog in response to AdAge reporter Jack Neff’s piece on how Facebook should be thought of — not as an acquisition tool for new users/customers — but as a loyalty program. Neff’s piece was the conclusion he reached after research came out that 84% of a typical brand’s Facebook fans are existing customers (according to DDB Worldwide and Opinionway Research.) So, logically, a Facebook page is the ideal place to reach your existing audience and increase their loyalty, right? Wrong.
One stat that I’ve been quoting a lot lately is that 88% of Facebook users don’t go back to a brand’s page once they “like” that page. Yikes. That’s something like an anti-loyalty program.
There are a few problems, which I highlighted in detail in my earlier blog post, that make Facebook far from the ideal CMS for a loyalty program. Back when I worked as a straight-up social media marketer, I’d often be measured on how many new “likes” our brand’s Facebook page had. That was the easiest way to quantify the success of my role (and thus, provide enough reason to keep me and my position around.) By encouraging social media marketers to generate massive quantities of likes in a short period of time, you’re throwing money out the door that could be better spent on a legit sCRM program.
A real sCRM program is not about “one touch marketing,” which is basically what Facebook is. For many brands, the user’s interaction with the page may be only to click “like.” I’ve seen countless campaigns with giveaways — promoted in costly ads — that allow you to enter the campaign in exchange for clicking “like.” Ok, great, you increased your Facebook likes a few thousand in one successful campaign. Now how do you reach those users again?
Uhhh… you can hope Facebook’s algorithm magically shows the posts you write on your page’s wall to the same users who liked you. How often does that actually happen? I’m no expert on Facebook’s magical algorithms, but I know that it’s extremely rare for a post from a brand I liked to pop up on my wall in between my friend’s updates. To be honest, I don’t even know where to go on Facebook to see all the pages I’ve liked unless they fit within one of their profile interest categories — television shows, music, films, games, etc.
What marketers need to remember is that Facebook’s business is designed around having more data than you do about your audience. They can then sell that data back to you in the form of advertising, or worse, sell it to your competitors.
That’s not to say you should forget about Facebook strategy, but know if you leave your sCRM strategy to Facebook alone (or Facebook + Twitter) you’re basically letting a company that wants to sell you more stuff have more ammo to charge you more for that stuff, and meanwhile your audience is receiving messages on the same frequency from thousands of other brands that they “liked” at one time or another.
The future of sCRM and social loyalty marketing looks a lot like Facebook, except it’s about bringing meaningful social experiences to every site. It will be interesting to see how the next web shapes up in the coming 2-5 years, as Facebook will likely still be a huge part of the picture, but their Open Graph Protocol may expand deep into the web, gaining more insights and value about user’s and their social behaviors. The good news is that in order for Facebook to ever accomplish this, there will be more ways for the marketer to obtain data about their user behavior — because more and more of it will be happening on their brand-owned digital properties.