January 8, 2015
Written by Mathias Miller Thorneman
The web has changed dramatically from web 1.0 to web 2.0. The change has been rapid, and has implicitly and explicitly implied a plethora of changes for both consumers and marketers. The consumer has been emancipated, given a voice and has consequently become a force, which has dethroned the marketers, and deprived them of their dominance. The tools that made this possible were the advent of social platforms that exist in variations on web 2.0. The various platforms offer a differentiated utilization scheme; herein the social networks are of particular interest. Based on the particular interest on social networks a Facebook guide is constructed to allow an eased and more successful employment of the social network. The Facebook guide employs specific emphasis on understanding how the media functions, but also to development and control of posts and content.
The purpose of this article is to shed light on what the Internet is today and to explore and understand the platforms web 2.0 offers. Hereafter the article will address and act as a guide for construction and development of social media communication with a particular focus on the platform Facebook. To accommodate the questions at hand in an optimal manner the composition of data for this article is based on academic litterateur, journals, blogs and lastly examples are applied to illustrate and underline points, in particular for the Facebook guide.
The birth of contemporary Internet
Since the birth of the Internet the online aspect of our lives have become evermore consuming, and far reaching. The impact of the Internet has without doubt left deep marks, and forever changed the way we communicate, shop, work, and search for information. Norms that existed for millennia evaporated at the speed of light with the introduction of web 1.0 (Hanna, Rohm & Crittenden 2011), and a new era proclaimed it’s importance by the introduction of communities (Seraj 2012), blogs, micro-blogs and social networks (Weinberg & Pehlivan 2011), namely a era characterized by a reciprocal flow and co-creation of information (Singh & Sonnenburg 2012). In geeky circles this era is referred to as web 2.0 (Weinberg & Pehlivan 2011). Collectively this myriad of platforms wherein co-creation (Singh & Sonneburg 2012, Hanna, Rohm & Crittenden 2011) takes place is referred to as Social Media. Within these social media platforms consumers are now advocating events, brands, products and experiences though an electronic word-of-mouth (eVOM) which have become significantly important (Akar & Topcu 2011). Thereby, emancipating the consumer and empowering him/her to play a decisive role in the success or failure scenario, which unfolds before the marketer on the web 2.0 (Papasolomou & Melantbiou 2012). By understanding, listening and co-creating knowledge and content with consumers through social platforms marketers have an unprecedented opportunity to strike gold, eureka!, by meeting consumer needs (Chrisodoulides 2009, Hanna, Rohm & Crittenden 2011). Consequently this has let consumers to expect that they will play an active part in the media process (Hanna, Rohm & Crittenden 2011), and left the marketer in a role where he must fit in rather then dominate (Deighton & Kornfeld 2009).
With an understanding of what contemporary Internet offers consumers and marketers, focus is directed towards the platforms that facilitate the revolution web 2.0 ushered in. Therefore a closer examination of the platforms is conducted.
Flourishing platforms on web 2.0
The many platforms web 2.0 offers segmented into four primary categories, namely blogs, communities, micro-blogs and social networks (Weinberg & Pehlivan 2011). Although the platforms operate and co-exist simultaneously on web 2.0 the purpose of the user and marketer utilization of the platforms differ dramatically. In the box below utilization purposes are displayed.
The box above is based on Seraj 2012, Weinberg & Pehlivan 2011.
As exhibited in the box above, there are various overall and sub decisions to be made prior to engagement of web 2.0. The importance and the potential of these platforms are becoming widely recognised, as they offer a unique opportunity to monitor, engage, share, collaborate with, which in turn hopefully leads to (brand) evangelism (Weinberg & Pehlivan 2011). But what is it these platforms offer the consumer on web 2.0? In accordance to Deighton & Kornfeld (Deighton & Kornfeld 2009) a five category scale is suggested, wherein one factor is of particular interest, namely Cultural Exchange. Cultural Exchange implies that the marketer aspires cultural production, which is then incorporated in groups or by individuals (Deighton & Kornfeld 2009). A recent example of this is Coca Cola’s online ‘Share a coke’ campaign which has been widely spread throughout all of the four platforms: micro-blogs, communities, blogs and social networks. Through the campaign users are encouraged to share a digital Coca Cola with friends.
A phenomena like Facebook is perceived to one of the most potent social media platforms as Facebook in particular enables cultural exchange, and functions as a facilitator of identity projection, and collective ascription of meaning and identity (Deighton & Kornfeld 2009).
In sum, this article has suggested that web 2.0 have catapulted consumers and marketers into a more egalitarian paradigm that is nourished and rejuvenated through various platforms. In addition, it was suggested that especially platforms that presented possibility of cultural exchange were in particular potent. To provide a deeper understanding of the utilization of a potent platform (Deighton & Kornfeld 2009) in praxis the following section will function as a guide to social network platform, namely Facebook (www.facebook.com).
The Facebook guide will serve for inexperienced and novice marketers to avoid the contemporary pitfalls on Facebook and to seize and obtain most possible “bang for your buck”.
The Facebook guide
The focus of this guide will be on Facebook as it is the largest, and the most utilized platform, in addition Facebook is subject to increasing utilization from users (Bayer 2014). Furthermore, consumers on Facebook who becomes fans/followers tend to be more loyal; more open for information, visit the brand store more and generate (e)VOM (Vries, Gensler & Leeflang 2012). Having underlined the importance of the platform the Facebook guide will now proceed to examine a number of considerations a marketer will have to be aware off when interacting with future fans and followers.
The first step of the Facebook guide is to develop an understanding how Facebook functions. With Facebooks new algorithm brands can no longer rely on somewhat random fans or followers (Pedersen 2014). The new fan or follower must now live up to a complex range of criteria, which will make Facebook rate the fan/follower interested in your brands material. In short, although your fan-base may be 10.000, only 1.000 may actually see your post, as Facebook estimates the rest to be uninterested in your post (Pedersen 2014). This Facebook guide therefore suggests and underlines the importance of intense focus on content that will intrigue your brands loyal fans/followers (Magid 2014). Furthermore, the algorithm also emphasizes the importance of shares, likes and comments of your post. By having your fan/follower base share, like and comment on your post Facebook will perceive your post as more important and relevant and hereby increase the posts range. This fact becomes particular interesting when taking Metcalfe’s law into consideration. Metcalfe’s law suggest that the value of a social network increases in proportion to the square of its connections (Hanna, Rohm & Crittenden 2011).
Adding ‘likes’ to your post
In accordance with quantitative research the number of likes on your post can be affected by the vividness of the post (Vries, Gensler & Leeflang 2012). By submitting content in the form of an embedded video (Magid 2014) or more participation oriented material, such as a contest. Another mean of attracting ‘likes’ to your post is by making it more attractive, by trying to get positive comments on the post (Caballero 2014).
Adding ‘comments’ to your post
An effective method of comment generation can be by taking advantage of the intuitive human, simply by posting a question many are drawn to provide an answer. Regardless whether the post reply is positive or negative the amount of post interest is believed to rise (Vries, Gensler & Leeflang 2012). In addition, it is advised that the marketer remains in sight for the fan/follower, and encourages and acknowledges the fan/follower with incentive, whether it be a ‘thanks’ or a ‘giftcard’ (Sandes & Urdan 2013).
An important aspect of this Facebook guide is how to manage your post content. Without a prober post content management one can rapidly experience hijacking or harsh critique (Singh & Sonneburg 2012). In layman terms a notion of ‘tension’ between marketer and fan/follower is suggested, wherein personal, internal and external tension exist (Singh & Sonneburg 2012). The essential outcome is to aspire a captivating brand by continuous re-assessing bonds of tension, and utilizing more types of tension simultaneously. In example this entails providing excitement, provocation and challenging the fan/followers perception, hence adding to the cultural exchange (Deighton & Kornfeld 2009).
Ironically, what makes your post more attractive to ‘likes’ consequently decreases the attractiveness in relation to ‘comments’ and vice versa. As such the marketer must be aware when designed posts, will the post be ‘like’ or ‘comment’ oriented? Perhaps a combination between the two can work? Regardless of choice the marketer must be conscious about the potential a well designed post has, raising the correct question, attracting your brands core fans/followers and seeing your message spread like rings in the water. Moreover this process allows for collection of data and increased understanding of your audience (Chrisodoulides 2009, Hanna, Rohm & Crittenden 2011). Conversely the marketer most also be aware that receiving negative comments is not necessarily equal to failure or misunderstanding of this Facebook guide. Through negative comments much can be learned about thoughts, desires and feelings about your brand. It is therefore paramount that negative comments are not perceived as a failure or irrelevant and annoying noise, but rather as a chance to learn and collaborate with your fans/followers (Vries, Gensler & Leeflang 2012). It is only a failure if you fail to learn from it! Moreover, marketers whom decide to apply facebook must also consider that the platform is relatively often subject to algorithm alteration, which explicitly manifests itself as re-strategizing for marketers. Thus it is a media that requires continuous care and attention to remain valid.
The consumer have been emancipated and given a voice on web 2.0. The marketer is now dependant on sharing, listening and collaborating with the consumer. An array of opportunities has arisen for the consumer, but also for the marketer. In effect these opportunities unfold upon platforms on web, and in this article the social networking platform Facebook was targeted due to its relevance, popularity and unique features for content. Through the Facebook guide it was concluded that an understanding of Facebook as a platform is paramount in order to launch a successful campaign. Moreover there was shed light upon the do’s and don’ts when marketers are aiming for ‘likes’, ‘comments’ and content control and the oxymoron it is to master all at once. Lastly it was concluded that negative fan/follower ‘comments’ are opportunities for further learning about your consumers.
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