The master of pop culture and famous American artist Andy Warhol said that in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes. If he were alive now, Warhol would have been satisfied to see his prediction come true. Indeed, since 2004, with the launch and popularity of social media like Facebook, each individual in the 21st Century has the potential to be exposed to many more ‘eyeballs’ than before and become famous. His comment can also be turned on its head…in the future, everyone will be private for 15 minutes.
Nowadays, your mobile phone automatically connects to Wifi or 3G, and your location settings announce to your Facebook friends that you’re checking in at an airport, restaurant, or bar. You’re having public conversations every day, and participating in other’s public conversations and debates or controversies. Well, the celebrities have to employ armies of PR people to get that kind of exposure in the traditional media, yet on Facebook it’s available to everyone.
The implications of this phenomenon are enormous, not only for digital marketers, but for the construction of an international community, the creation of a virtual Tower of Babel, if you will. Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected, by and large, it has succeeded, judging from the one billion international users it has.
For marketers, this has become a goldmine, with many of them starting new careers and the younger generation of marketers being now able to gain a competitive edge because they come from the Facebook generation. Social media has become a field of study in universities, and Facebook is increasingly a channel for advertising, sponsoring, and other types of marketing messages, many of which intrude on our timelines and private messages. The mainstream media is increasingly taking stories and quotes from Facebook – in one recent example, the media in Cyprus made much of the last Facebook post made by a defendant on trial in Limassol for murdering three people. His last post? A picture of a noose.
For some people, it’s all too much. I’m seeing my Facebook friends taking a break from the medium, saying they’re tired of the constant communication, feedback, messages, and need to be liked. They feel that technology is taking over and they want to go back to living their lives pre-Facebook. In life, when you lose a friend to distance, changing circumstances or their personal decisions, it’s a painful thing, and I noticed that it’s no less painful when someone makes the decision to leave their Facebook relationships behind. And yet, it’s somehow more easily done because there’s a perception that Facebook is less ‘real’ than other types of relationships. Like celebrities who deplore the paparazzi following them everywhere they go, there are some people who are rejecting the constant bombardment of marketing messages.
How do these factors affect brands on Facebook? How can marketers reach a balance between getting their messages across and not being intrusive or annoying? Of course, a Facebook user could simply switch off notifications from your brand’s page, but that’s hardly the desired result. Here are three tips to ensure a sustainable relationship between your brand and your Facebook followers:
- The need to build a long-term relationship with your Facebook fans has not changed, what needs to change is the level of meaning you bring to their lives. Post about your corporate social responsibility projects and your values, when the posts are well imaged and written, showing that your brand is doing social good, they can make a positive impression on people. Be respectful to those people who take the time to interact with your page, this adds meaning and value to your relationship with them.
- Respect people’s need for privacy, if your advertising message is going to show up in their News Feed, make sure it’s something genuinely relevant and interesting to them, not just a call to action. This will increase engagement and build your brand’s relationship with them.
- Get permission. Don’t add people to groups unless you have their permission or you know that they’ll really like them. Don’t tag them unless it’s something you know they’re interested in and don’t tag total strangers, it’s clumsy.
My last point on this topic is that everyone has the right to privacy, so marketers need to respect this, or risk being in the same situation that the television stations are in – zapping when the commercial comes on.
Sarah Fenwick is a marketing communications consultant offering services to digital marketeers, and the author of the E-book ‘How to be a Holistic Digital Marketer’. She has 25 years in the media and the arts, and is a practicing journalist and a jazz singer.