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Fake Fans and Willing Brands

With Facebook, most consumer brands have set up a page where they communicate information about their products, details of offers, run competitions and develop a Facebook fan following. As well as having a Facebook page where consumers can ‘Like’ them, brands are spending huge sums on advertising through this social network.

Facebook is not alone though, brands are also spending vast sums on advertising and using various other tactics  to promote themselves through social media channels such as Twitter and Instagram.

But what do these social media promotions and marketing communications actually give to the consumer?  Where is the value add – well apart from the occasional printable money off coupon or free prize draw that brands seem obsessed with when marketing through Facebook.Also what are these tactics actually doing for the brand – are they really helping to increase sales or brand loyalty – well the jury is out on that one.

Unfortunately all this money being spent on social marketing and advertising has to come from somewhere and as far as I can see its other areas of  brand marketing that are suffering, especially good old fashioned sales promotions. There used to be a time when you couldn’t move in the supermarket aisle without seeing an on pack promotional offer that actually gave something to the consumer, whether it was money off your next purchase, or a free gift of some kind in exchange for a few proofs of purchase.

These days though brands seem obsessed with social media as if having 100,000 extra ‘Likes’ is actually better than selling 100,000 extra packs. The situation is getting so bad that brands are running on pack or in store communications, that direct a consumer to their Facebook page, where the consumer can then enter a free prize draw, or play a game that gives them the chance to win, – after they have clicked the obligatory ‘Like’ button of course.This is great if all a brand wants to do is attract a lot of ‘Likes’ and the type of consumer who is only visiting their page to enter the competition that gives them the chance to win a holiday.

I should know, I have done it – there are a few brands linked to my Facebook profile simply because at some time they had a competition to win a nice prize that I was interested in. For the majority of these I have never once bought their product, nor do I feel any more inclined to do so.

So as I said earlier, the jury as far as I am concerned, is very much out on the effectiveness of social marketing for brands and especially promotional marketing through social media. At present I am erring very much on the side of it being a bit of a fad and marketers waking up to the fact that they are spending all this money but not really achieving that much and more importantly not selling more products to tie up with the millions of ‘Likes’ their brand has developed!