January 25, 2013 8:20 AM

The Thing About Facebook And Brands

What should a brand do on Facebook?

That question above... the one about brands on Facebook... yesterday, I got that asked that question three times. Yesterday. The pressure that brands feel to make connections on Facebook is tremendous. They're reading about all kinds of data about over a billion connected people and the power that Facebook yields in terms of keeping people engaged and using the channel. The numbers are truly staggering. There is no question about it: brands really do need some kind of formal and iterative Facebook strategy.

Is Facebook too big to ignore?

Ignoring Facebook is a mistake. Harnessing it to extend the brand narrative is a major task for the vast majority of brands. It entails a strategy that has true metrics attached to it and one that can be nurtured over time. The challenge (as I see it) is that brands use it as an extension to their traditional and mass marketing initiatives. In such, we have what can only be described as an "arm's race" for likes on Facebook.

Here's the thing...

When I get asked what a brand should do on Facebook, the real question I hear (by, actually, reading between the lines) is "how can I get a whole lot of those billion-plus people to like our brand... or, at least, like our brand more than our competitors?" So, the short answer is this: instead of figuring out how to get more people to like your brand on Facebook, why don't you get your brand to start liking more people on Facebook?

The end of media narcissism.

The average person on Facebook has 120- 200 connections (depending on who you ask... and when). As big as Facebook is, it's actually many, many, very small circles of close (and semi-close) connections. For a brand to truly penetrate that inner circle, they have do a whole lot more than create interesting content. Brands have to actually like their followers. The truth is that I'm not sure exactly what this means and, it well mean something different to each and every brand. What I am very sure of is this: Facebook and brands is less about advertising and much more about creating, nurturing and developing a more direct relationship between individuals and the brands that serve them. This isn't for all brands. This isn't for all consumers. This is (still) a massive opportunity for those that can rise above a traditional advertising strategy. So, the next time someone brings up Facebook in your marketing meetings, start here...

"Instead of asking our consumers to like us on Facebook, why don't we start liking them?"

Now, let me know how the conversation goes...