Facebook can be a problem. Many organisations find that it is so addictive that it takes employees away from their work.
A lot of firms block access to it from work computers. And who can blame them?
If Facebook, or any other social network, disrupts the work of an organisation, that’s clearly a problem that can’t be ignored.
But, in media companies, we can’t let the fact that Facebook is a problem obscure the fact that it is also an opportunity. By my reckoning, it’s probably the greatest currently under-exploited opportunity for media companies within social media.
After all, in management school they say the bigger the problem the bigger the opportunity. A problem of the size of Facebook has to be a great opportunity.
But first, and skip the two pars that follow if you are already convinced of this, why engage with social media?
Because we need to fish where the fish are. Our potential readers are on Facebook, Twitter and a range of other social networks. That’s where we need to be if they are to find us. Putting the right content there is like baiting a hook.
A whole generation raised on the internet will never find our branded websites or, indeed, our print publications unless we engage with them first on social networks. Get our use of social networks right and we can draw them to us, and to our core content, and convince them of our worth.
Huffington Post made a splash recently when it installed Facebook Connect, which as Ken Burbary explains means "Facebook users log in to partner sites using their Facebook account and share information with Facebook friends: a single sign-on authentication solution that websites can use instead of relying on building it for themselves."
Since integrating with Facebook Connect, more than 33% of new Huff Post registrations come through Facebook.
But many media brands that you would expect to be social engaged aren’t using Facebook to anything like its potential.
NME just scratches the surface of what is possible – with one-line news items that don’t link anywhere. For example, a free Echo and the Bunnymen download is announced, but not linked to.this appears to be the official fan page Yet follow the link to Heat’s website provided and you find there a Follow us on Facebook link that takes you not back here, but to another Heat Facebook page entirely
Not a problem for readers who go from Heat’s own branded site to Facebook, but mighty confusing for browsers on Facebook who are looking for Heat’s official page. And it’s the currently unengaged audience that Facebook can most usefully put you in touch with, not the converts.
Facebook is a massively powerful marketing tool. Many commercial brands – Coca Cola, Ben and Jerry, Red Bull, iTunes and others are using it as such, and to great effect.
We can learn a lot from them about how to market ourselves to a whole swathe of people who would like us if they met us -- socially, as you do on Facebook -- and who could become visitors to our branded websites and (just maybe, one day) purchasers of our print products.
Penn Olson blogged about the sophistication of the social media Coke Happiness campaign which is "sending three winning bloggers to more than 200 countries in a year to uncover what makes people happy, as part of the soft drink maker’s Open Happiness campaign.”
Here’s the embed of part of the sell for that campaign from Coke’s Facebook page
It’s this kind of creativity that is needed on Facebook. But hey, we can do that. So if you are on a sports mag/website, say, what about it? Run a competition on Facebook with a commercial partner, and get prize-winning fans to video-blog the F1 season, or next year’s Football World Cup.
which ranRed Bull Stash, a treasure-hunt covering every corner of the
Become a fan of iTunes on Facebook and you get 20 free songs, as long as you are in the US.
Penn Olson adds: “New to iTunes? Not to worry. They have a series of tutorial videos right on its page. A smart move to acquire more users through Facebook.”
What we get on social networks is personal recommendations: readers who find us and like us share us with their friends on Facebook. Book publishers have always known about the power of a personal recommendation. Now we can exploit the same benefit.
But should you bother? After all, a proper engagement on Facebook will take time, effort, imagination and resources. Mashable found that, of social networks, Facebook provides the most loyal visitors:
- 20% of those that originate from the social network then revisit the site four or more times in a week.
That is not just a boost in traffic, it’s a boost in the right kind of visitor – the one who finds they like you and become loyal. Using Facebook and other social network sites is not about eyeballs, it’s about making yourself known to the reader who values you once he or she knows you exist.
Ken Burbary gives Five reasons companies should be integrating social media with Facebook Connect.
I’ll highlight two here:
- Increased registration: of between 30-300%
- Increased engagement: Facebook users are used to being social. They are an active group, participating, sharing, and generating more content. Sites with Facebook Connect see a 15-100% increase in reviews. Connected users create 15-60% more content than users who have not connected with Facebook Connect.
So, we know all too well about the threat Facebook poses. Now’s the time to focus on the opportunity.