Why 2014 is the Year the Beauty Industry can Stop Worrying about Facebook and Content Marketing

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Note from Imogen: "This week we are proud to welcome Richard Stacey from Social Media Architecture. Richard is a social media specialist who has worked with some of the biggest brands in the world including Microsoft, RBS and Discovery Networks. While Richard believes that Facebook and Twitter et al are easy to use, he knows the tricky bit is understanding what to use them for."

Here's an interesting fact about Facebook.

The average engagement rate with a corporate Facebook page in the UK in March 2014 was 0.21 per cent.

This means that, of all fans, only a stunningly small percentage of them can be expected to actually engage (like or share) with the content these brands are posting on their Facebook pages.

Bear in mind this isn't 0.21 per cent of a brand’s target audience. It's 0.21 per cent of the people who are already ‘fans’ of a brand on Facebook – a group, which itself is probably less than 1 per cent of the target audience.  Hence Facebook is a good way of engaging with 0.0021 per cent of your audience.

Here's a question.  Is there any other form of media or communications channel out there performing as badly as that?

Perhaps you might be thinking these statistics are skewed by covering boring brands as well as the super-glamorous brands that you might find in the premium beauty sector.  Well, let’s take a look at L’Oreal Paris’ UK Facebook page during the time it might be expected to garner the most interest – i.e. during the recent Cannes Film Festival, an event for which it is the Official Make-up Artist. Thus has the opportunity to parade all its sponsored models in front of the cameras on the red carpet.

Of 12 posts during a five day period from May15 to May20 this year, it garnered a total of 1,830 likes, shares or comments.  That is an average of 153 per post.  Which expressed as a percentage of its 7,187, 012 ‘Facebook fans’ is an engagement rate of 0.025 per cent.

Why is it then that so many brands persist in their obsession with posting content on Facebook?

It's because they mistakenly believe that social media is a form of media.  Despite the name, social media is actually a form of infrastructure.  If you look at how people are using Facebook, it's much better understood as a mobile phone network than it is a media platform.  And while there are millions of people on mobile phone networks, they are not grouped together into available audiences.In the same way you rarely find audiences in social media, unless you can term 0.0021 per cent of your target audience as an audience, it's really only individuals looking to talk to each other – or to you.

Now it may be perfectly fine to only connect with 0.0021 per cent of your audience provided that you do something that creates more value than simply putting a piece of content in front of them (or him or her – because it probably is a him or a her).  However, in the social digital space people do not want content.

Try and find a consumer that is sitting down right now saying “you know, what I would really like from my favourite brand is just another piece of branded content.”  These people are quite hard to find.  On the other hand it is not difficult to find consumers saying “what I really want right now is an answer to a question, or a response to a complaint, or a very specific bit of information on how I use your product or where I find it, or what other people think about it.”

Returning to L’Oreal, during the same time as it was posting content about Cannes, the comments that people were posting to L’Oreal (as featured on the ‘posts by others’ section) were concerning such things as:

  • Hi. I won a goodie bag in your recent competition and am waiting for someone to confirm my details. Still very excited but it would be lovely if someone could contact me. Thanks very much.

  • Please stop using plastic microbeads in your products as they damage the environment and are harmful to wildlife.

  • Bought the new fibrology volumising shampoo when I washed my hair couldnt stop scratching my scalp so am stuck with full bottle which I can’t use or return, all Loreal said was to stop using which my doctor advised thought they might of offered something in return

You don’t deal with such issues and questions via a content strategy.

Nothing that L’Oreal was posting on its page had any connection to the issues its consumers were ‘posting’ to the brand.    However, you can address these issues through a real-time information management process that matches consumers’ questions to your answers. Whether these are questions consumers are asking you direct (as above), or whether they are asking Google.

In fact, probably the single most revealing and productive thing anyone with responsibility for social media could do would be to sit down and work out the questions for which your brand is an answer.  And then go to Google to see who is answering those questions at the moment.  The answers to these questions are the only content worth producing and producing it is only the start of the process.  You then have to work to create the necessary networks of connections around it so that Google will pick it up.

You have to socialise your content to make it work in social media.

Content marketing may be this year’s buzz word.  But that is because making content is easy and like many things that are easy, it is ineffective.

Everyone wants the answer, in social media, to be ‘content’.  However, the answer in social media, is that you have to work out how to respond to what it is your consumers or customers want to talk to you about.  But while this is harder, it is also a hugely more valuable process to put in place.

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