Facebook: Engage don’t intrude (Part 1)

400 Million users strong and still growing! For marketers it’s a dream come true and cannot be ignored such a large and highly targeted platform does not come too often. So why is it so difficult to utilize this social channel?
Well. Facebook (and social media in general) is difficult to understand, and quite a lot of marketers don’t quite get it. It is fast, ever changing and the users are in control.

Marketers are approaching Facebook as if it was another billboard, TV advertisement or magazine ad, they are completely ignoring the fact that Facebook is a social network for people to reconnect with their friends, chat, organize events or even play games.

To get a better understanding a marketer must first fully understand what people are doing on Facebook, and in what mindset.

Understanding User Mindset:
To help explain this, take the following scenarios for example:

Scenario 1:
I live in Dubai, most of my friends live in Jordan and Canada so I check Facebook regularly to catch up with them and see what my friends are talking about to stay in the loop. So my mindset when on Facebook, is as if I was attending a party or a dinner in my own personal space with friends and out of nowhere an invited guest comes in carrying a billboard advertising a product with a logo on it. I’m just not interested!

Scenario 2 (a more realistic scenario):
You are with a group of friends catching up in a coffee shop chatting and having fun, when suddenly a salesman walks up to your table and tries to sell you a product (usually an iphone knock-off). Odds are you will not be interested.

When friends get together socially they engage each other and conversate, they don’t stop for commercials. Any type of promotion is seen as an intrusion and will be viewed negatively. It’s the same thing online, I personally have been using Facebook for a while now and honestly I’ve never paid attention to any of the banner ads that are on there, its as if I have an filter that refuses any type of promotion, and why should I pay attention to the ads? Facebook to me is an extension of my own personal space.

Stay tuned to part 2 of this article where we tackle what users are doing on Facebook, but in the mean time I will leave you with this:

Below are parts of a famous speech from the Mr. Ted McConnell, general manager-interactive marketing and innovation at Procter & Gamble Co. on placing banner ads on Facebook for his branded products. Nov 17, 2008.

“Who said this is media? Media is something you can buy and sell. Media contains inventory. Media contains blank spaces. Consumers weren’t trying to generate media. They were trying to talk to somebody. So it just seems a bit arrogant… We hijack their own conversations, their own thoughts and feelings, and try to monetize it.”

He then went on to state:

“What in heaven’s name made you think you could monetize the real estate in which somebody is breaking up with their girlfriend?”

However Procter & Gamble Co. have recently announced that they are working on developing applications and pledging to tackle social media once and for all, even though they don’t really understand it fully.

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Having worked with top digital agencies and companies in the MENA region for the past number of years I'm now looking now to venture on my own with small side projects in online, SaaS products. Things I like include: gaming, sports, technology, social media, start ups, funny things and reading about new bright ideas.


  1. Hi Mohammad,
    Thanks for the comment. (VW) have been doing a lot of great stuff with social media and I hope more people start following suit.
    Interesting you should mention the use of games, because that will be covered in the 2nd part of this article. Hope you'll enjoy that one as well.

  2. Thanks for the great post.
    I do agree with you. IMHO the social networks need a new type of advertising that goes beyond the traditional marketing tools we had. And I think some advertisers starts to use it (VW), they have a social analyzing game, that analysis your social activities and profile information and suggests a car for you from the wide list they have.

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