E-mail may be the most common Internet activity, but in September 2010 market researcher TNS reported that “surfers spent 4.6 hours a week on social sites, compared with 4.4 hours on email.”
And although MySpace predates it, Facebook is considered THE social network. In an interview with Wired, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg described some of the reasons his site is so unique. First of all, people are themselves; they use their real names and connect with real friends and family. Zuckerberg said that when he developed Facebook in 2004, “the idea that my roommates and I talked about all the time was a world that was more open. We believed that people being able to share the information they wanted and having access to the information they wanted is just a better world: People can connect better with the people around them, understand more of what’s going on with the people around them, and understand more in general.”
And thanks to its openness, Facebook has become a vital marketing tool featuring what James Nichols described as Shared Media, which involves the overlap of Earned, Owned, and Paid media, which are applied to Facebook as follows:
- Earned Media includes users who purposely became a fan of your page or who clicked the Like button on your website, shared a blog post or story about your brand on Facebook, or suggested your Page to their friends.
- Owned Media is the brand’s page and the content published by the page administrator, but not any of likes, comments or wall posts by fans.
- Paid Media is self-explanatory and includes Facebook ads used to generate more traffic to your page in hopes of growing your fan base. Promotions or giveaways typically require a media spend as well, regardless if you are only targeting non-fans or existing fans.
Shared Media comes into the picture when there is content—usually on a Status Update—that is both owned by a company and earned as a result of a company’s owned content. Such content is tricky, because users can Like a post and encourage positive feedback from their Friends, but they can also post negative comments and generate what Nichols calls a “wasteland of negativity.”
Just such a wasteland led Gap Inc. to retract an unpopular new logo (below at left) within a matter of days (four, to be exact).
It’s a good thing the Gap released the logo online before they did anything too extensive—and expensive. If the Internet had been around, would New Coke have been as disastrous? You have to wonder . . .