Should Your Brand Be on Facebook? The One Question You Should Ask – The Tee-Shirt Test

It’s no secret that brands are rushing to Facebook to create pages to broadcast their message, establish “friendships” with customers, and leverage the platform’s functionality to execute savvy campaigns.  Many brands and celebrities have used Facebook very well, but does their success mean that your brand will be able to replicate it?

Most brands are sophisticated enough now to ask the obvious strategic questions around business objectives.  Many also know to study the customer problems that their looking to Social Media to solve.

But, as a tool to execute Business Objectives, Facebook is different than other Social Media tools.  The reason for this is the intensely personal nature of relationships on Facebook.

As compared to Twitter, blogs, forums, or other Social Media tools, relationships are closer and generally confined to family, friends, and trusted work colleagues.

Activity, assocationas, and content added by Facebook users is much more deliberate than other sites.  As a result, people are very careful about being a “Fan” of a brand.

People don’t become a Fan of a brand they like; they typically fan a brand has that makes them look “cool” in front of their friends.

“Would A Person Wear a Tee-Shirt with My Brand On It?”

Throughout human history, clothes and fashion have been used to communicate summary-size bites of information to other people. Rightly or wrongly, we look at what others are wearing and pass judgement, develop opinions, and summize a person.

This same principle applies on Facebook.  I choose to be fans of brands just as carefully as I choose what Favorite Music, Quotes, and Movies to select.  They can communicate information to others about who I am quickly and clearly.

Because people use their Facebook profile to shape their perception in a network, brands that can’t offer a customer “cool points” are likely to not gain followers.  People want to fan Apple, because Apple is cool.  Adding Apple to your profile is like wearing an Apple t-shirt, we know what types of people use Apple.

Example:

Of course, you could throw money at a Facebook campaign to increase followers…but the ROI is likely lower.  Consider a blog/forum community site.  Consider using Twitter to promote that site.  Consider an iPhone app targeted to connecting loyalists together.

Here’s who I fan on Facebook:

I’m a Social Media Marketer’s dream.  I love Facebook, I love experimenting with it to learn more…But look at who I fan.   It’s stuff that speaks about me to my friends.  I do this as much because I care about association as I do because I care about the updates.

Happy to remove any photos, please email me or comment.  I am using photos simply to comment on the world around us.

Posted on September 28, 2009 at 5:33 pm by Ben Foster · Permalink
In: Facebook, Strategy

7 Responses

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  1. Written by Holly Knowlman
    on October 11, 2009 at 7:08 am
    Permalink

    Really interesting article, thanks 🙂 When companies approach me about using social media facebook is often the one they're most interested in without truly considering the benefits/alternatives. What about using facebook pages as a space for less popular brands to reconnect with their customers and build a more social image?

  2. Written by benphoster
    on October 11, 2009 at 9:45 am
    Permalink

    @Holly – A couple thoughts on less popular brands

    – Reconnecting with customers is only a good idea if you have something they'd be interested in reconnecting with. If you're just marketing yourself to people who haven't bought in a while…they probably won't be interested. But, if you're offering usage tips, customer service, or have a brand that a community could organize around, it could work.

    – Building a more social image is okay if there's a business objective in doing so. If you're doing it just so marketing or management can say “We're on Facebook!”, then not a good idea.

    – For certain small brands or products, A Facebook page could kickoff a community. If you have a ton of passionate people who aren't connected, a FB page could help start a community. I don't think Facebook can run a community, because of tech reasons, but it could be a good way to get them started.

    Thanks for the comment! Stay in Touch!
    Ben

  3. Written by Holly Knowlman
    on October 11, 2009 at 1:08 pm
    Permalink

    Really interesting article, thanks 🙂 When companies approach me about using social media facebook is often the one they're most interested in without truly considering the benefits/alternatives. What about using facebook pages as a space for less popular brands to reconnect with their customers and build a more social image?

  4. Written by benphoster
    on October 11, 2009 at 3:45 pm
    Permalink

    @Holly – A couple thoughts on less popular brands

    – Reconnecting with customers is only a good idea if you have something they'd be interested in reconnecting with. If you're just marketing yourself to people who haven't bought in a while…they probably won't be interested. But, if you're offering usage tips, customer service, or have a brand that a community could organize around, it could work.

    – Building a more social image is okay if there's a business objective in doing so. If you're doing it just so marketing or management can say “We're on Facebook!”, then not a good idea.

    – For certain small brands or products, A Facebook page could kickoff a community. If you have a ton of passionate people who aren't connected, a FB page could help start a community. I don't think Facebook can run a community, because of tech reasons, but it could be a good way to get them started.

    Thanks for the comment! Stay in Touch!
    Ben

  5. Written by Trends in Twitter Usage « Soc Med. Blogz
    on April 6, 2010 at 8:38 am
    Permalink

    […] Should Your Brand Be on Facebook? The One Question You Should Ask – The Tee-Shirt Test […]

  6. […] love Facebook for keeping up with brands and companies I love.   At one point I recommended that brands should have a Facebook page only if they’re cool enough to be on a Tee-Shirt.  I no longer agree with everything I wrote […]

  7. Written by benphoster
    on July 21, 2011 at 4:43 pm
    Permalink

    For the record, I haven’t agreed with this post in a while and need to state this here.  It is a lot deeper than this, but need to just get this out there.

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