Last week British trade publication New Media Age led with the news that Coke & Unilever, two of the world’s largest advertisers, were planning to (more or less) stop creating campaign specfic websites. Instead they would use social platforms, such as Facebook & YouTube, as the bases for more and more of their marketing activity.
Reasons given by the clients included efficiency, cost & simple common-sense – why wouldn’t you base your campaign in an area where your audience already thrives? Fish where the fish are, as that horribly cliched, but unarguably apt, phrase goes.
Unsurprisingly, this has caused quite a stir in the marketing industry.
Many have suggested that the brands will actually be losing out by doing this: losing the ability to collect data, losing the ability to drive sales, essentially, losing control of the relationship with the consumer. Whilst there’s some truth to this, it ignores the biggest problem with campaign sites and one which the move to social profiles could help to rectify – they completely ignore search.
Look at one of the most talked about digital campaigns of the last few years, mobile company Orange’s I Am campaign, which ditched URLs and pushed consumers to search for the phrase I Am. This showed a great understanding of how consumers now find information but, because of how search works, it didn’t rank organically for many weeks, meaning extra budget had to be spent on paid search on top of the existing media costs (outdoor, TV, etc..)
And this dilution of serach, by splitting link equity across diverse properties, has always been one of the biggest problems with these sort of sites.
Now think about the types of results that typically come up now when consumers search for brands, products & personalities: as well as links to the brand site, there will typically be links to Facebook pages, YouTube videos, and the latest tweets mentioning the search term.
And if a brand has taken the time to ensure that its presences in all these properties is well set-up and encourages regular consumer interactions – for instance by making them the centre of its marketing activities, instead of campaign sites, then its likely that most of the first page of search results could be taken up with ‘owned’ brand properties.
So whilst putting your budget into talking to someone else’s audience always poses some risks, allowing someone else to steal them by optimising for your brand, products or themes, is a much bigger risk altogether.
Magnifying image by OliBac on flickr
Besides the search specific challenges (See bit.ly/b55jVQ), there is another problem that brands will increasingly have to consider: if all brands start looking like facebook or youtube, where is the specific brand experience for their customers? I think, content is an important differentiation factor, but if the presentation environment is always identical, consumers might lose their sensitivity for the individuality of brands. Social platforms are not brand platforms. they facilitate the communication with the community, but are useless for “Brand building” if understood as “Creating a difference”.
iS IT JUST ME OR COULD SOME SAVVY/GREEDY MARKETER ACTUALLY START UP THEIR OWN BRAND SOCIAL NETWORK? i THINK COKE HAS MORE THAN A FEW AND FROM MY STUDENT DAYS I REMEMBER ABOUT HOGS (hARLEY OWNERS GROUPS) WHICH WERE USED BY THE HARLEY FIRM TO AUGMENT THEIR CRM AND CREATE EXPERIENTIAL MARKETING.
tHE MARRIAGE BETWEEN CONSUMER FAN GROUPS AND BRANDS LOOKING FOR A RELATIONSHIP HAS A NATURAL FIT IN SOCIAL MEDIA.
tHE ISSUE HOWEVER IS IS WHICH NETWORK? WHILE FB IS NUMBER ONE GLOBALLY ITS NOT SO HOT IN CHINA WHERE QQ ETC RULE.