Pundits have not yet finished the volley of thought pieces in the wake of The Zuck’s decree that his kingdom’s news feed will focus more on posts by your friends and families and less on posts from publishers and, more to the point for our purposes, brands. This move reminds me of the advice of noted marketing guru Eddie Murphy to people in horror films: “that’s a hint-and-a-half for your ass to get out.”
OK, maybe I exaggerate a little by suggesting that brands get out of Facebook (hey, clickbaiters gonna bait), but I think they should stop relying too much on Facebook for engagement and start building their own platforms.
It’s not an ark. It’s a species diversity platform.
First, let’s acknowledge that no one, maybe not even Zuck himself, knows what the news feed change really means. On the face of it, the change seems to limit opportunities for brands to buy their way into Facebook users’ consciousness. However, Zuck didn’t become a gajillionaire by ignoring marketers’ and publishers’ wants. Based on my studies of the Mafia and OPEC, I suspect that the Hoodied One wants to drive up margins by artificially limiting supply. Take that as someone who grew up in the home state of Tony Soprano and Exxon.
Regardless of Facebook’s endgame, marketers should take this moment to acknowledge the media duopoly. Facebook and Google account for 77% of all digital ad dollars spent.
As an alternative, look to create platforms rather than campaigns. Specifically, I mean digital platforms such as The Wirecutter, an e-commerce platform owned by the New York Times or American Express OPEN’s Forum platform. While campaigns and platforms both engage consumers around a brand, platforms seek long-term engagement rather than a limited time capture of consumers’ attention. To put it another way, platforms help engage consumers when they’re interested in something, not merely when marketers have something to say.
Over time, successful platforms reduce the need to rely on Facebook or Google to snag consumers’ attention. They become self-sustaining. Facebook can restrict its news feed to French bulldogs for all your brand cares. As my friend and mentor Tim Suther likes to say, “why rent your customers when you can buy them?”
Take the hint. Build a platform.