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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Facebook and Earned Media

"Now we are going to go over a few tips and tricks that are going to help you reach the 3,000 fan target that we set at the beginning of this guide. Keep in mind that for some companies, 3,000 fans is excessive while for others 3,000 may not be a lot...

"While Facebook will be launching more features to provide brands with greater exposure and greater access to their public profile’s data, there is already plenty available for brands to take advantage of. So before discussing how to attract thousands of fans to your public profile within a month, I think it would be best to explain why your brand or small business wants thousands of fans.

It should be obvious to any marketer that thousands of fans can create an extremely effective promotional channel but can you actually take action to drive more fans or is it just a natural evolution? As Fred Wilson states, the future is in 'earned' media, not paid and Facebook is one of the primary platforms for earned media." In the light of my current Facebook suspension for " going too fast when writing on Walls," I found this article very interesting. It raised questions about any questionable content or ceiling on the number of friends I was allowed while using Facebook as a social network. Earned media is defined as "publicity gained through promotional efforts other than advertising." As opposed to paid media, this free media is, of course, a tremendous boon to campaigns of all sorts. Brands want people to talk of them favorably to encourage others to buy. Prominent people and certain issues gain momentum in such a manner. The difference between paid media and authentic word of mouth disclosure must include how that disclosure is communicated. John Bell says, "Word of Mouth Marketing is the new 'earned media.' That phrase - a cornerstone of the best public relations practices - means what it says - that you have done something to earn the attention and engagement of your media and the public's. You cannot buy word of mouth. You can buy media. There is a further difference around what you can do to try and earn the attention of bloggers in this particular discussion. All of this must happen with full disclosure of the marketer and the 'advocate' - that blogger who may or may not choose to talk about you." ("The Difference Between Paid Media, Earned Media, and Word of Mouth," March 5, 2009) Bell says "earned media" is fine for bloggers if offered as the following: 1. Incentive by offering them a product or service, 2. Offering them social capital like first information or reserved multimedia, 3. Offering them a way to give their readers via a giveaway of something, 4. Inviting a collection of bloggers to the corporate campus to have a behind the scenes experience with the brand while the brand pays for modest travel expenses. Day stresses, "At the end of the day, a brand must question the value of a blog post or product review emblazoned with a caveat above-the-fold that says. 'I was paid by the brand that I am talking about to write something about product X...'" So, can a company outright pay cash to a blogger if disclosure is full-- all parties understand that they will say what they will say be it positive or negative? Day believes this is paid media, but not really evil in practice. He does, however, think it "isn't particularly good marketing." This practice would say that the company values media and believes the more positive media units in a Google search, the better the business will be. David Armano of the Dachis Corporation (Logic and Emotion, Feb. 8, 2009) believes earned media is not free in the sense a company is paying for the time and resource of people who will investigate what's being said about the brand and engage on the behalf of the company instead of paying directly for a placement or making arrangements with a partner. It seems to me Facebook should seek a better relationship with its users, potential positive players and consumers in their Internet ventures. Vague policies and ridiculous accusations must be addressed. I understand their genuine concern about those companies who wish to share news, seed content, talk to, and in general interact with the people who actually care about their products or the topics associated around them. Yet, how does this policy of intrusion rest with the Facebook members whose intention is not to profit, not to engage in a race for 3,000 fans, and not to consider their brand of soap or soup before merely saying "Good afternoon" to their Facebook friends?
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