Can Facebook Fan Pages become the new brand websites?

One of the latest articles of AdAge highlights the reach of the biggest Facebook fan pages of brands.

The article makes clear that many marketers have more success these days with their social media presence than with their traditional “owned media” – their brand sites. The question arises if the new “owned media” will become the Facebook sites where companies invest a lot of effort in these days. In just one year the shift from “onsite to offsite” becomes obvious when we can obey that Coke’s brand website and are showing a massive decline in traffic figures based on Compete data. Only Starbucks seems to maintain their brand sites web-traffic with significant e-commerce traffic success.

Many marketers are still not quite sure how and in which way to get engaged in all the social media hype. And if they do, a recent study by the Brand Science Institute shows that 73% had to show ROI figures after 12 months, although only 27% had a clear understanding of who their customers are… and probably none of how they interact on the social web. And 92% (!!!) were not aware of their Facebook dependency…

The expectations are high on social media… and especially when Facebook becomes part of the social media strategy. Posts like those of AdAge suggest that Facebook fan pages will become the new brand sites, or at least replace the importance of traditional brand sites.

And now to the experts… What is your take on this?

11 replies
  1. Christoph Bauer
    Christoph Bauer says:

    Thought about this a longer time ago. And now, with Ford revealing its new Explorer on Facebook, we seem to be at a crucial point. But, we shouldn’t forget, that right now its trendy, to do such things. Maybe the PR-Effect of showing something first on Facebook (uh, we are so innovative and we honor our fans with this action) is a bigger driver, than the architecture of the platform itself. Same with FHM, it was trendy, and they did it. And they got press coverage for it. But in the end, for FHM i really see one problem: What is with beautiful, high-resolution images from their models? Facebooks Photo-Galleries wont support that. And FHM is about big pictures and flesh, afaik. And thats just one example of how the content has to fit into the categories, facebook defines. Facebook has to reduce server load, so they cripple pictures with a bad compression. And they can make it even worse, when THEY decide to. Thats another thing to remind: You are giving some of your content and much of your design possibilites into the hands of facebook.

    We oughta ask ourselves and our customers, what the purpose of their website or presence is. When it is clearly interactivity, when the content is sticky and its a “straight” product which doesn’t need as much information as something very complex (a car is not that complex, we all know how it works), then maybe facebook is a good decision. but when it comes to product lines, articles which need an ecosphere of information surrounding them to be sold (think new gadgets), which need tutorials, maybe a community, then we should think about staying with microsites, as its hard to give all this info in a convenient way on facebook.

    sometimes even anonymity is a thing we should think about: not everyone wants to ask something about a product under his full name.

    maybe there are some other factors which i did not think about yet, but it seems like it really depends on the way a product has to be presented, to get it sold.

  2. Martin Meyer-Gossner
    Martin Meyer-Gossner says:

    Very interesting perspective, Christoph. And I do partly share your thoughts. In my eyes, we are heading back to the time around 1998-2000 and I have often spoken about the internet hype reloaded. Those days you were said to have a website, now brands have to have a Facebook page it seems… Marketers sometimes forget the essence of the basis their business model is making customers stick to their ideas, products and service.

  3. Christoph Bauer
    Christoph Bauer says:

    Thanks for your reply, i could sign the last sentence 😉
    Another thing that came to my mind is the screen real estate, companies are loosing when betting on facebook. i mean a huge percentage of the content you will see is facebook-related, everything is facebook themed. which leads to another point: you are pretty much bound by the infrastructure and the ruleset facebook is enforcing. and these things can change quickly, as we already know. so detailed long time planning is merely a no-go.

  4. Stefan Pfeiffer
    Stefan Pfeiffer says:

    Martin, interesting take and a perfect fit to a conference I am just preparing for my employer. I do believe that in a lot of cases Facebook can not replace the web site of a company. But for sure the traditional 1.0 web sites being only a colorful window do need to change. An Exceptional Web Experience means e.g.

    – a web site must be personal in the way, that it needs to provide the information the visitor wants. And let us be honest at this point: This means that we do need to analyse the visitors and their clicks … This means data and web analytcis.

    – a web site must offer the opportunity of interaction. This could mean that you can – if you want to – directly chat with somebod from the company. This means that you can leave comments. This means that in a best case a community or fan page is linked to the web site, either sitting on Facebook or in a own company-owned community.

    – mobility is going to change the game. Web sites don’t only need to be present at all relevant mobile devices: they need to be interactive on mobile devices, too.

  5. Martin Meyer-Gossner
    Martin Meyer-Gossner says:

    Stefan, thank you for the valuable input. Very much appreciated… What conference are you refering to?

    Personalization: Yes, the issue is though web analytics is something most companies don’t care about, neither have they reviewed their latest stats and data. Just having done a seminar with leading marketers in Europe showing me, how they handle data. I was asking them, how they could do their business without having a close look at the personalization factor: the client itself.

    Interaction: Most companies offer it but forget to react in “real-time” so that the clients don’t forget what they have said to the brand, company, etc. a while ago. Response gets forgotten. Some do react on mobile and forget the website as of the hype around mobile happening. Don’t ask me why…


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