Facebook Advertising. P&G Failure.

Facebook AdvertisingI just read an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about P&G (the largest advertiser on the globe) and its experience placing Facebook advertising in front of a highly targeted audience.

It seems that Proctor and Gamble had very limited success with the venture so far. It seems counterintuitive that it would not work as expected. Consider this:

P&G Facebook Advertising

The P&G brand Pampers is able to target new moms and pregnant women on Facebook. The very audience it NEEDS to excite to purchase. Feels like a no brainer. But P&G found the resulting sales less than exciting. As a result, while not giving up on Facebook, P&G is going to increase its TV advertising next year.

What is missing in Facebook advertising?

In other words, Proctor discovered that broad based rather than strictly targeted ads work better. What it is not grasping fully is WHY.

For most of the marketing world, P&G wrote the book on branding. In fact, it doesn’t really understand brand very well. What it invented and took to the level of a science is brand management. The entire marketing focus is on brand teams and the tight relationship between the brand managers and the product.

The reason the Facebook initiative is not working all that well is because the types of advertising that marketers create on Facebook turn out to be product ads and not brand advertising. The snippets are akin to billboards. They focus on efficacy and pricing, not on branding.

I say this because contrary to what P&G has made into its culture, branding is not about the product or HOW it works. Branding is about WHY it matters to the target audience.

Jif Facebook AdvertisingBranding works

The greatest brands in the world are, at their core, a reflection of the customer they need to influence. The greatest promise that Pampers can make is not how dry the baby is when you use Pampers (after all, every disposable diaper keeps the baby dry). It is about WHO the mom IS when she uses Pampers. How a Pampers mom is different and better than those that use a different brand.

Think of Jif peanut butter. Sure it promises that it tastes more like fresh peanuts but the brand promise that choosey mothers choose Jif is the driver of preference. That’s the sort of brand message I am speaking of.

To make Facebook advertising work for marketers, they need to have a MORE emotional message than they do in virtually every other medium. Facebook users have the attention span of a gnat and you must grab them in the gut to get them to invest in a message more intrusive than a billboard or coupon.pampers Facebook Advertising

If the medium is the message, then P&G must be better at selling the brand and not the product. It’s a brave new world of marketing and traditional advertising is becoming less effective. Advertisers struggle to become more effective and targeting sounds like the answer. It is.

But it requires a rethinking of what branding IS. The halls of P&G must stop harping on the agencies in the Proctor tent with the uniform call of “where is the demo” to an up-to-date demand of “where is the prospect’s emotional needs?”

Facebook as news. Where will it stop?

Do we now view Facebook as news? Is it a news source?

After a live, 10-minute video of a police officer shooting a black man (Philando Castile) in Minnesota was posted on Facebook, there is a great deal of chatter about Facebook’s role in news and its responsibility because it seemed it was a media outlet posting NEWS. Facebook as NEWS has become a topic of discussion.

Philander Castille and Facebook as newsI want to say right from the start that this blog post will not touch on the footage or the event. Neither will it speak to the shooting of police officers in Dallas. This blog is about Facebook as a news organization.

Should Facebook post live videos of events? Does it have any responsibility of content? To my thinking, Facebook is schizophrenic on this subject. It censors copyrighted material. You can’t post a video on Facebook of your children at a playground if you have placed a sound bed in the background of a popular song.

Facebook wont publish it. I can’t post a photograph on my Facebook feed with text in it (like a sign that says STOP for example) because Facebook has a policy of not boosting a post with an image that contains a certain percentage of words in it. Nudity is not allowed.

Where is this going?

Facebook as news
Nick Berg

But you can post a live video of a young man bleeding to death. The images are abhorrent. No one argues with that. But where does it stop?

If Abu Musab al-Zarqawi posted a live video of his beheading Nick Berg, do you think Facebook would allow it? Not on your life.

If it did, the uproar from society would unfathomable. It seems to me that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Think abut this. Would nudity be OK on Facebook as long as it was a live video of a rape? Where does our voyeurism end?

Facebook is a part of our lives to be sure. But Facebook as news should not be.

Are we to blame for Facebook as NEWS?

Why has this happened? Why is it that for many, social media has become their news source?

Facebook as news and Fox NewsI know a good deal about branding. I know that a need in a target market creates demand. I know that meeting that need is a predictor of success. I know that we get what we deserve as often as we get what we need.

The real issue here is a turning away from real news and substituting it with pop-culture drivel. Broadcast news is just entertainment masquerading as news. The public gets affinity news broadcasting (broadcast news that sells an agenda and bias) because it does not want news.

It wants agreement with our own ignorance (from the root of IGNORE). In our hearts we know that what we see on Fox and CNN is not news. Its bent entertainment. Facebook as News. Cronkite never dreamed of it

When CBS decided that its news bureau needed to be a profit center rather than a public service, more than just personality died when Walter Cronkite passed away. We lost NEWS.

Think about the demise of the newspaper. Subscriptions are in decline. Reporters are being let go and readership is running for cover.

There is responsibility in live postings

Facebook as news and Marshall McLuen
Marshall McLuen

To my thinking, I am upset that Facebook posts crap like this. There is no editorial ownership, as there once was with CBS. Facebook thinks it is doing a public service by showing our lives in its raw experiential form. I think we have enough reality TV, thank you very much. I don’t need to see everything in its raw form.

I need that as much as I need the bizarre talking heads on Fox News spinning everything they report. I’m hungry for knowledge, not to witness the wost of humanity. Will Facebook spend time and money making sure that similar videos are edited for agendas? When will we be finished as a modern society of Peeping Tom’s?

I think the killing in Minneapolis would have been real news without the Facebook post. The news was not the shooting. The news was that it was “captured live on Facebook. Marshall McLuhan was right. The medium IS the message. Too bad. Too bad.

Facebook Censorship

Is Facebook guilty of censorship?

fear of rebrandingI had not really considered the idea of Facebook censorship until yesterday. I write a blog almost everyday on marketing, branding, social issues and persuasion.

Occasionally, I will boost the post on Facebook to target an audience that I think might have an interest in the topic covered.

Facebook censcorship
Facebook’s advertising rules

I don’t do this regularly but often enough that I am familiar with Facebook’s rules.

Once in a while I have a blog (Facebook calls them an ad) turned down. Is that rejection a form of Facebook censorship? I had not thought so. Usually it is because the image I have included includes text.

Facebook Censorship
Rejected from boosting my blog

Facebook is stringent on not allowing a blogger like myself to sneak messages past its screeners by including the message as text within an image. This makes sense to me because images are impossible to search for messages. They are just not searchable as text.

Yesterday I wrote a blog about persuasion.

I used as my example of persuasion a discussion on politics and religion on Facebook. I was compelled to write the blog, oddly enough, because one of my Facebook friends posted a political statement about one of the candidates for President. This friend immediately got comments from former school classmates who vehemently disagreed with his post’s assertion. I started to think about what I know about persuasion and how Facebook is a poor venue for trying to affect behavior.

Facebook Censorship seems self-serving

Facebook censorshipDo me a favor and read yesterday’s blog. Then tell me how it transgresses on any of the rules for boosting a post on Facebook? I think it was only guilty of speaking to the limits of Facebook posts and why, as a venue, Facebook friends should probably avoid posts that profess a view on politics or religion.

Why? Because your opinions won’t change anyone’s opinion. It is, in research terms, a self-selected study, meaning only those who adamantly agree with you or fiercely disagree with you will take the time to comment or share. Others may throw up a respectful LIKE, but I doubt they ever read past the first sentence. A nominal like is a passing acknowledgment that they follow you.

In the spirit of full disclosure

Facebook censorshipI’m not a huge fan of Facebook. I find that it causes me to spend way to much time spying into the shenanigans and happenings of friends and acquaintances. I have found it very useful to reconnect with folks I have lost contact with over the years— childhood friends, old classmates, co-workers from another time and the like. But I don’t need Facebook to find out what is going on with my close friends and immediate family.

I know those things the old fashioned way. I talk to them and ask. In many ways, Facebook gives me an artificial sense of intimacy with people I hardly know any more. I come think I know them much better than I really do. It can cause us to refrain from the real connection that comes with a phone call or visit. We THINK we are connected.

Will Facebook Censorship block this blog as well?

This is my real reason for writing this. Will Facebook allow me to express criticism of the pseudo connection that we lie to ourselves as enjoying through Facebook? At this point, I have no clue. I even resubmitted yesterday’s blog to Facebook and asked why it was denied. So far, I know as much about Facebook’s thinking on this as I do about the REAL emotional experiences of my Facebook FRIENDS.

Facebook Politics. Keep it private.

Facebook Politics are NEVER persuasive

Facebook Politics
Trump or Clinton or Sanders?

Facebook politics (posts about political identification) seem to be more and more commonplace today. I’m not so different from you. I have deeply felt political loyalties. However, if you are like me at all, you just cringe to see opposing views posted on Facebook by your friends. However, I don’t cringe when my friends post messages that agree with my bent. What’s going on here?

Its easy to dismiss this personal hypocrisy and blame it on the idea that we all Facebook Politicslike it when others agree with us.

I think that is true, for the most part. But it feels to me that we get our nose out of joint most often when our social media acquaintances post confident opinions on religion or politics.

Other topics don’t seem to bother me too much. I read them but they never ruffle my feathers. Facebook Politics and Facebook religion… well those are different beers altogether.

Facebook is an interesting and timely example of personal branding

For many of us, our Facebook page is the banner of our private brands. We use it to tell the world where we have visited, what we have eaten, what we have seen, who we love and.. what we believe (insert politics or religion here).

I’m no different. A search of my Facebook page reveals posts from my business’s blog, trips I have enjoyed with my wife, restaurant meals that were (sometimes) memorable, pictures of my family and grandchildren and very little more. I try not to post things that express my views on religion and try (sometimes I fail) to ignore political posts.

Facebook PoliticsWhy? Is it because I look at Facebook as a branding tool? Is it because I find posts from others on these topics occasionally offensive? I wish it were so simple.

The truth is that I avoid posts that talk about politicians, politics and religion because I am a student of persuasion. It’s part and parcel of what I do for a living. As a brand strategist, my goal is to position brands in a way that they become persuasive to prospects (and at the same time reassuring to customers).

Facebook politics as a focus seems futile to me. I know how difficult it is to change someone’s mind and I use every tool available to me as a professional brand guy to make the effort successful. I utilize research, competitive and market analyses, switching triggers and a projectable research based understanding of beliefs.

I know that the best way to change a behavior is to align a brand message with an existing belief held by the target audience you want to influence. When done with aplomb, you are not changing behavior insomuch a realigning a behavior with the self-definition of the target audience.

This process works because we are all prisoners of our belief systems. What we BELIEVE to be true (note that it does not have to be true, just believed) always controls our behaviors because it creates the needs and wants that control all of our actions.

Brand is self-identification

Coke is a major player in consumer packaged goods
Are you a Coke?

Usually, this self-identification is general—it forms a philosophy of our lives that gives us personal meaning and eliminates internal conflicts between what we do and what we believe.

Human beings naturally seek refuge in agreement and are repulsed by conflict. When you engage in a behavior that seems alien to your belief systems I can pretty much guarantee that you will eventually cease that behavior. We may be emotionally attached to Coca-Cola but we are not a COKE.

Religion and Politics are a different story. Depending on your bent, you ARE a Christian, Muslim, Atheist Buddhist, Hindu, or Jain. You ARE a Republican, Democrat, Independent, Socialist or Libertarian.

These are the fiber of your belief systems. Rarely are they challenged (as adults) without a catastrophic event.

What this means is that we form attachments to these ideas WITHOUT cognitive introspection. They are emotional beliefs not rational ones.

I know from commercial experience that ALL purchase decisions are emotional choices. They are not cognitive. We may believe we have rational reasons for the things we buy but they most often are rationalizations of an emotional choice. We back-fill the rational to defend the emotional precisely because we can’t abide internal conflicts.

An exercise in futility

Hillary Clinton LogoSo I ask you the question I ask myself, why post your religious views or political polemics on Facebook? Is Facebook politics worthy of your time and effort?

Nothing you say could possibly change someone’s mind because rational arguments, from either side of an issue, will not change anyone a jot. It is an exercise in futility.

A mentor of mine once told me that communication without purpose is at its best unconstructive and at its worst destructive. I think that has never sounded more true to me than hearing about Bernie, Donald or Hillary on Facebook.

We all are where we are and all we risk is offending those who do no agree with our own beliefs with a ZERO chance of changing someone’s mind. I actually believe that it makes others more entrenched in their beliefs. It’s human nature after all.

Facebook parental leave backs the brand

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with its site, but the Facebook parental leave is one idea I can admire.

Facebook has made it too easy to spend a considerable amount of time on general meaninglessness. Lives are often glamorized to unrealistic levels. Opinions are exasperated. And relevance boils down to how many likes or comments you are able to collect. Seems a bit like a fruition mentioned in Yeats’ Second Coming: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.

Facebook parental leave
Facebook parental leave is living the brand.

My relationship with Facebook is peculiar. It’s easy to get hooked. Yet, I’ve found myself in discourses with family members and friends, or worse, a troll on my page. There have been times when I cancelled my account, blocked people and de-friended others. Passive aggressive stances, I must admit.

Like all things, it’s about balance, one that I believe I have come around to finding. Funny, with the recent news that Facebook parental leave allows all employees to take four months of paid leave, it seems Zuckerberg & Co. have found some balance, too. And just maybe, Facebook does care.

Unlike Netflix’s newsworthy parental leave policy, which grants some employees with 12 months and others with 12 weeks, Facebook seems more genuine and real.

Lori Matloff Goler, Facebook’s head of human relations, had this to say about the new policy:

“We want to be there for our people at all stages of life, and in particular we strive to be a leading place to work for families. An important part of this is offering paid parental or ‘baby’ leave.”

The effect of Facebook parental leave on its brand.

One part of building an effective brand that often gets missed is how the company itself fulfills a brand promise. In a strange (and not altogether politically correct) way, a brand like Walmart that promises the lowest price probably shouldn’t have high-paying employees in its stores.

For Facebook, its brand is about social interaction of all things in our lives, including work-life balance. If Facebook doesn’t act the brand, then it eventually becomes less believable.

The Facebook parental leave backs up the brand.