written by: Li Sum Yui, Katie

Brand marketers are investing heavily on digital advertising and hiring creative agencies to produce branded content, assuming social media will get them gone viral. Despite all these efforts, major brands are starting to raise questions on how is the payoff of their investment [1]. It is easy to ride along the notion that FB is a great brand building tool. FB empowered company with tech-fancy tools to build relationships and engage with customers. Over time, with enough preaching and exponential growth in the number of users, there is a general belief that if great brand stories are told, connections could be established between the brand and its community of customers.

The Nature of Facebook
It is perhaps worthwhile to take a retrospective look into the original intent of using FB. People used to rely on FB to connect with friends, well before brands come into the picture. This echoes the brand value put forward by FB, that the world would be better more open and connected [2]. The fact is that not many people are comfortable to be flooded with advertisement and branded content.
If someone asks a FB user to recall a brand name or brand promotions that he/she encounters on FB in the last 24 hours, the best chance for the answer is probably remember something vaguely, or nothing. It is because contents on FB flow so quickly and in such abundance that it is not easy to stay long in people’s selected retention memory. “Seeing and forgetting” still seems to be an inevitable fact in the ecosystem of FB. There is low guarantee that users will keep a brand in mind after exhaustive finger-rolling activities.

Become a friend of your customers
Many brands establish their own Fanpage on FB. It is hard not to follow the general direction. If brand marketers simply think that putting product information, updating news about the company or creating interesting contents on the Fanpage are good enough to sustain a brand. It is probably an overestimation of FB’s marketing power and an underestimation of consumers’ sentiment.

If brands want to assimilate into the culture of FB which is connecting with friends, it is desirable to produce contents as if customers are friends of the brand. Branding is no longer a one-way communication process. Make users feel meaningful when looking at your brand page, something that could resonate like reading a close friend’s FB posts.

Build content that is relevant to brand character
The content on Fanpage doesn’t necessarily be a product. It can be something that people could relate with a brand. Take Red Bull Facebook page [3] as an example. Red Bull uploads a lot of videos about extreme sports. The contents may not be directly related to Red Bull’s products, but people can easily relate the brand with strength or persistence. As a result, the brand character is successfully identified.

While FB opens up opportunities to brand building, it is important to understand how people use FB, and then create contents that are relevant to users/customers. Most importantly, Fanpage should always be consistent with brand values. After all, this is an encounter to win over customers’ rapport.

In the chaotic world of social media, branding has become more complex. This is not an anti-FB pitch. FB is a phenomenal success and has reinvented a media platform as important and powerful as any one of the traditional media, and with an ever-increasing influence.

[1] P&G to Scale Back Targeted Facebook Ads https://www.wsj.com/articles/p-g-to-scale-back-targeted-facebook-ads-1470760949
P&G issues call to arms to ad industry over ‘antiquated’ media buying https://www.marketingweek.com/2017/01/30/pg-media-buying/
Procter & Gamble chief marketer slams ‘crappy media supply chain’, urges marketers to act http://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/31/procter-gamble-chief-marketer-slams-crappy-media-supply-chain.html
[2] https://www.facebook.com/pg/facebook/about/
[3] https://www.facebook.com/redbull/