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Facebook’s Head of Brand Design Says it’s Time for More Talk and Less Action



Do you believe in love at first sight? Paul Adams of Facebook doesn’t. He says good relationships take time to develop, whether you’re looking for a mate or a customer for your business.

Adams, Global Head of Brand Design at Facebook, was a guest at this week’s Pivot Conference. His topic? Six principles for being social on Facebook. What it amounts to is the concept that you should consider how people use Facebook before reaching out to people on Facebook. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Adams says that most brands come on too strong and that’s a turnoff for a potential brand follower. In other words, think of your social media interactions as a first date. Woo your fans with lightweight interactions so they have a chance to feel comfortable.

Next, forget the word “share.” That’s marketing speak and it’s not how people think. People have conversations, they “tell” their friends about a new restaurant or a great movie, they don’t “share” information. And yet, it’s what we ask them to do over and over again with buttons and reminders and calls to action at the end of a post.

Time for a shift in the mind set. Instead of thinking about how to get people to share, think about initiating a conversation that they’d want to share. If you do your job right, they’ll bring their friends into the conversation because they’re interested, not because they felt compelled to push a button.

Adams also offered a few tips on how to create compelling content. The big one:

80% of a brand should be removed from a post, with only the necessary information put in a post.

By stripping out that 80%, you sound more like an informed friend and less like a midnight infomercial.

Next, “If you don’t ship-it doesn’t exist.” And once you do ship, make changes quickly to incorporate feedback. Building buzz is one thing, but six months of promises on a Facebook page doesn’t instill confidence in your customers.

Finally, my favorite point: “design the feed story first.”

This is so logical, it hurts. Let’s say you’re introducing a new singing penguin toy for the holidays. You build out an app on your fan page with a penguin simulation that sings different songs when you click on him. And it’s got a big share box asking fans to send a penguin song to their friends. Lovely. Now, how do your fans know about your penguin page? They see a post in their feed that says: Send a song to your friend!

Is anyone going to click on that? Probably not. So here you have this fun, adorable app but no one’s going to see it because hardly anyone visits a fan page without clicking through from a newsfeed post.

Think it through, from the end, back to the beginning, because that’s the path most people will follow.

Above all else, just talk to your fans. Forget the complicated apps, just talk to them the way you’d talk to a friend over dinner. If you’re excited, they’ll get excited and in time they’ll learn to love you.