Facebook’s changes will force you to be Customer-Centric

Facebook made me customer-centricI have to say, I’m really happy with Facebook’s recent changes. If you read my blog, you know that I’m not really a fan of Facebook. Its user interface generally sucks and Facebook keeps messing up on the privacy front. Facebook missed the boat on Lists for way too long and their Groups were an obvious Fail from the start. And I don’t really like any company that wants to own us so completely.

But I have to hand it to Facebook. I think this time they got it right—and they just might help save social media marketing.

In July, I blogged about how we are killing our customers with engagement. Too many pointless Facebook pages. Too many Likes. Too much useless content. I thought a backlash was coming. 99% of you were in agreement. Just before Facebook’s f8 conference, Brian Solis blogged the same thing, further confirming the prognosis.

Then, Facebook announced its changes. Facebook put the focus squarely on the user and made changes that will force you to do so as well.

Like is going to the back burner.  Accumulating fans and getting wall comments isn’t going to be enough.

With the new timeline and the opportunity for applications to update it, your ability to get visibility in Facebook is going to depend on your ability to add real value for your audience. It’s all about them and what they want and how you can help give them what they want.

I love it.

Facebook’s choice to implement the Timeline shows that they understand that every user is constantly aware that they are creating an image, a façade, a picture of who they are through their online interactions. For all the talk of transparency, the truth is that each of us is our own online image consultant.

What it means for you is that you will have to dig deeper and understand your customers better. In particular, you’ll need to understand the online psyche of your customers. SocialSteve has blogged about psycho-demographics and I’ve blogged about building online personas for your audience. These will now become critical tools for social media marketing.

It won’t be enough to know that you want to reach 20-something women interested in the latest Fashions. You’ll need to understand the behaviors of these women–online, in particular. What image are they trying to project online? What kind of pictures of themselves do they like to upload? What messages do they want to convey to their friends?

You’re going to need to think about social media marketing in a new way, now–the way we all should have been approaching social media all along.  The key to finding the right marketing approach for Facebook is to ask yourself:

How can I help my audience project the online image they want?

Figure out what impression your customer wants to make on friends, related to your product or services, and then find a way to help them do that.

You’re an online fashion magazine trying to get more young, female subscribers. Your user wants to show her friends that she’s the most up-to-date on the latest fashions. Give her breaking fashion news that she can share with friends, with her own commentary. Include an app that sends video to her phone so she can announce the news the moment that model hits the runway. The video is hosted on your site, of course.

You’re an online discount wine distributor. Your user wants to be the wine expert among his friends. Give him an app that lets him note the wine he just drank and rate it, with a link to your site for those who want to purchase it.

Watch for my post next week, where I’ll use some recent data about consumers to give you a concrete example of How You’re Supposed to Use Facebook’s Social Actions.  (If you’re not signed up for my blog, you can subscribe here.)

From now on, it’s not about you. It’s all about the customer. And it’s all good.

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