This Halloween, the award for the scariest costume goes to Direct Marketers. Now, I am a big lover of direct marketing, so please don’t think I am criticizing them. This Direct Marketing costume is scariest for Facebook… not Pinterest.
Pinterest vs. Facebook
On October 25th, Forbes published an article, “Why Facebook Needs to be Deathly Scared of Pinterest.” Now, let’s get things straight, comparing Pinterest to Facebook is like comparing apples to oranges — they are both fruit, yet different fruit. Pinterest has proven to be a great commerce tool. Per Bizrate, over three-quarters (70%) of Pinterest users visit the site “to get inspiration on what to buy,” while only 17% of Facebook users visit Facebook for buying inspiration. Facebook, on the other hand, was created for people-to-people connections where brands can once in a while successfully insert themselves.
Digital and Direct Marketers
By leading with people connections, the value Facebook provides to brands is not quite as clear. We at Engauge confirm every day that it is an effective customer service center and drives innovation and product development. We know it creates a stronger relationship with consumers, and studies have shown that people do business with people they know, like and trust (lots of studies — here is one Forbes wrote about this year). In fact, ComScore and others have shown that people who have “liked” their brand spend more. Well, and you can’t deny the reach: 63% of online consumers have a Facebook account, while only 15% have a Pinterest account (per Bizrate again).
So why do we believe Facebook, but not Pinterest, should be afraid of Direct Marketers? Let’s think back to Google’s early days (another great direct response vehicle). In its infancy, Google struggled with brands not understanding how to measure results. (I’m not exactly certain who those brands were since I found immediate success, yet I digress.) Suffice it to say, they found that people weren’t measuring correctly, and so they created Google Analytics. Thanks to Google pushing the value of analytics forward, Direct Marketers drank the digital-direct-response Kool-Aid and now expect all digital to create some type of immediate result — something Facebook can’t show all the time.
Facebook will eventually need to take a page out of the Google playbook and figure out how to give a tool away for free that undeniably proves the value. Perhaps they should offer something not as a channel that drives immediate sales, but instead as a way to help businesses show the value of Facebook as a step to the path-to-purchase through brand awareness and purchase intent. And they should not forget that it might decrease service costs, increase retention, CLTV (consumer lifetime value), advocacy, and/or NPS (Net Promoter Score).
Facebook is already trying to show the value by partnering up with ComScore. Though it’s interesting, this “really, I promise it’s working” approach isn’t exactly going to fly with the CMO.
Mindshare and Mindset
When it comes to social networks, mindshare is a concern. With limited time, people will only choose a limited number of social networks to engage with each day. So yes, perhaps Facebook needs to be a little afraid of Pinterest. It always needs to be testing new ways to engage its participants and generate reasons to come back.
This is where the likeness ends though, and mindset becomes incredibly important. Participants using Pinterest go there to be inspired. They expect to engage with brands (or at least images of brands’ products). If they happen to catch up with a friend or connect with an old classmate, great. Yet it’s not expected.
In Facebook, if consumers “like” a brand page, it’s like wearing a brand badge. It’s saying, “I like this brand so much that it’s worth allowing them to insert messages into my news feed.” The mindset is different.
Final Word to Brands
It’s going to be a while before Facebook gives you the tools you need to confirm results. For now, know that Facebook is the 800 lb. social networking gorilla and worthy of your time. And remember that now, as the Halloween decorations are on clearance, holiday decorations are taking center stage, and brands enter into peak season, they need to remember to not be afraid to look at the entire customer decision journey — not just acquisition.