Facebook: Engage don’t intrude (Part 2)

In part 1 of this article we covered user’s mindset while on Facebook, in this second part we will dive into understanding what users are doing on Facebook and how marketers can benefit their brands by engaging with the users.

Understanding what users are doing on Facebook
There are different types of users on Facebook however the bulk of the users are logged in mainly to stay connected and share with their friends, but what happens after the conversation is over? Do people logout and go back to whatever it is they were doing? The answer is most probably no! They will find something else to do on there. In reality people log in and out throughout the day to stay in touch but when nothing changed since they were last on they will start exploring, stalking friends, seeing their images, reading news, playing games and so on. To put it in plain English: they are passing time!

To get a better understanding of the people on Facebook, I will share with you this story. I landed on a page with random user comments the other day, and one of the users was suggesting that Facebook should have the comments automatically show up without the need to refresh the browser page. This to me was odd, because refreshing the page is not the hardest thing in the world and more importantly what could be so important? People are using Facebook the way stockbrokers check on their investments. I guess they either want to waste time efficiently OR I am assuming that this content is important to them.

So should you bother with Facebook?
Definitely! Don’t let my scenarios above discourage you but social marketing is a different game, don’t assume conventional marketing will work. To be effective, marketers will have to keep trying different approaches and keep experimenting with new and fresh ideas. In my point of view adding banner ads on Facebook does not count as “social marketing”, because there’s nothing social about it. It’s intrusive. Brands will have to step back and let the users come to them, only then can they engage them, forcing your way in to a conversation is rude.

Experiment with new ideas and think outside the box!
www.allfacebook.com has reported on Valentines Day that Farmville players sent 220 million Valentine’s Day virtual gifts within 18 hours. The game also has nearly 80 million monthly active users. Café world, another game application by the same developers Zynga has 7.5 unique users. These games appeal to users because they have the “sim” feeling as well as social interaction with other friends on Facebook. Microsoft took advantage of Farmville and gained over 400,000 Facebook fans in one day on their Bing fan page all because of one advertisement on FarmVille, where users received virtual money for their farms by becoming fans of the Bing Facebook page.

Another report that was released not too long ago is that Facebook has overcome google for providing news; this is really not very surprising. comScore analyst Andrew Lipsman was quoted as saying “For many people, Facebook is their home base” “it makes sense that other online utilities and functions move there.”

Ok so what can you do?
A lot can be learnt from these applications and applied to physical brands, especially fast food and clothing brands in the Middle East and the GCC in general where a large consumer base exists solely on Food & beverages and shopping. So why don’t these brands develop applications where users can build and manage their own shops with virtual money, which will open up the way for brands to push their products in real time while users are playing trying to manage their shops. You can also add the real world dynamics of running a shop as well along with finances, borrowing money advertising your store and merchandise and getting your friends to help you out.

This can even be extended to apps on different platforms such as the iphone and others. An investment of such magnitude might not be feasible for some brands, but I definitely think it’s worth the risk, especially with the reaction that Farmville, café world and mafia wars are generating with the Facebook population. At the end of the day managing a farm, coffee shop, fast food joint or an outlet store have the same principles and can be fun at the same time.

Let us know your comments


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. I really like the fresh perspective you did on the issue. Really was not expecting that when I started off studying. Your concepts were easy to understand that I wondered why I never looked at it before. Glad to know that there’s an individual out there that definitely understands what he’s discussing. Great job!

  2. Hi Mohammad,

    I totally agree with you, I just brought up games as an example and definitely there are multiple and more innovative ways to market products.

    A quick comment about era five, I think its already taking effect in some parts of the world because recently a fan page requesting Betty White (an American actor) to host the widely popular Saturday Night Live show gained almost over 500,000 fans and concluded with the show's producers to actually schedule and book Betty to appear and host the show.
    This just goes to show that consumers are getting some power in deciding what they would like to see on TV and really defines "Video on Demand".


  3. Thanks for the great post. I do like the 2 parts and the way you are analyzing the topic.

    IMHO the social web has a five eras:
    1) Era of Social Relationships: People connect to others and share
    2) Era of Social Functionality: Social networks become like operating system
    3) Era of Social Colonization: Every experience can now be social
    4) Era of Social Context: Personalized and accurate content
    5) Era of Social Commerce: Communities define future products and services

    I think we have passed the the first three eras, but we still need more time to move to the 4th and the 5th era. Even the games are doing a good progress in the social marketing side, but I still believe we will see more innovative ways of marketing and tools for marketing products and services via the social web based on the user interests, profile, and posts – and we will see the value and the need for the web 3.0 or the semantic web.


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