From a marketing standpoint, what separates the internet from other media outlets is the ability for users to control the message they receive from companies. Search engines allow users to seek out the message they need, email allows users to filter the message, and social media allowed users to engage with businesses on their own terms. Bottom line, the internet is, and in my opinion should be, the place where individuals are in control of the message.
Facebook used to fit the user-in-control-of-message mold, and to some extent they still do. However, there are some new developments that may erode the amount of control a Facebooker has over content delivered to them by companies.
At the inaugural Facebook Marketing Conference, February 29, 2012, Facebook representatives announced new products that are available for businesses, which include the new timeline layout for Facebook pages, Reach Generator, and Premium on Facebook. These are sponsored social ad campaigns, similar to sponsored tweets on Twitter.
So what does all this stuff do? Put simply, it gets your message in front of fans better thereby increasing engagement between customers and businesses. Great news, right? For business, yes. This is a dream come true. Especially for companies working so hard to get their news in front of their fans. With these new tools, they pretty much just need to post stuff on their page, and it gets distributed to their fans for them. It puts businesses back in control of the message. Strike one!
For fans and potential customers, this is not great news. Once you like a company that uses these tools, you will be seeing their stuff all over Facebook during your experience, including when you log out. Sheesh! This is a modern day consumer’s worst fear: watching one of their favorite modes of communication turn into yet another highway cluttered with billboards; or to put it another way, it’s their commercial-free channel being constantly interrupted by annoying commercials. The customer is losing more control over the message than they had before. Strike two!
You know the game…one more strike and you’re out. If Facebook continues down this road I see the result being people migrating to a place where they can once again engage with companies on their own terms without feeling like products and services are constantly being pushed on them. They’ll seek a cleaner and simplified layout that lets them post and share messages without being reminded how wonderful “Product Z” is, and how many of their friends like “Product Z”. They’ll once again seek the place where they’re in control of the message. Whether that place is Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, or a yet-to-be-developed platform, people will go there to avoid the push-style marketing that Facebook is encouraging.
For more info on Facebook’s new products for pages, check out the links: