Corporate Eye

Consumers Friending Brands on Facebook Via Engagement

facebook_logo_imageIf you believe Facebook chief revenue officer Mike Murphy, then it is possible to convince Facebook users to friend brands on the social networking site.  According to an article from AdWeek, Murphy claims that, “ads on Facebook have a significantly higher engagement rate than ads elsewhere on the Internet.”

That’s possible since ads served via Facebook are typically well targeted.  But how does that advertising engagement rate translate into friending brands and building relationships with them that lead to sales?  A new partnership with Nielsen should make it more apparent.

Facebook and Nielsen signed a deal that will allow marketers to measure performance through more than the ubiquitous click rate metric.  The new metrics Facebook and Nielsen plan to deliver to Facebook advertisers and brands is one that will allow them to identify branding goals and serve ads that match those strategies.  For example, one of the first tools offered is called Learned Targeting which serves ads to Facebook users that have been identified through their online behavior and demographics to be more likely to become fans of brands on Facebook.

Setting up a brand fan page on Facebook is free and only takes a few minutes.  The key to success is continually providing great content through that fan page that encourages people not only to become fans of the branded page, but also to interact, visit again and again, and tell others about it.  Certainly serving ads to a Facebook audience that shows a propensity to become fans of branded pages on the site is a step in the right direction, but it’s only a small percentage of the battle.  Keeping those fans actively engaged over the long term is the bigger problem.

Interestingly, only three of the top 25 fan pages on Facebook are brand pages (Coke, Starbucks and Skittles).  Equally interesting is the fact that 83 of the top 100 brands on Facebook have run Facebook ad campaigns.  It appears from these statistics that brands are falling back on the comfort of advertising rather than immersing themselves into the new media format and the opportunities it presents for nontraditional marketing.

Until brands can truly leverage the social media opportunity, they need to make the leap in thinking from fitting traditional marketing tactics into nontraditional media.  I’m not saying there isn’t a place for advertising in social media.  There absolutely is.  But clearly brands are focusing on tactics they’re familiar with and comfortable with rather than investing in relationship-building and content development tactics that are essential to social media marketing success.  Of course, even the best marketers have trouble convincing execs that it’s time to make that shift.  Therein lies the problem.

I’d imagine that the shift will come as leadership turns over to a younger generation that relies completely on the tools of the Web (after all, it’s what they grew up with).  However, will there already be a “next best thing” available by then that this new generation will have to shift towards?  Probably.  It’s a vicious circle, but it certainly keeps life interesting (and frustrating) for branding and marketing professionals.

What do you think?

Image: Flickr

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.