Facebook testing the mobile loyalty space
Starbucks offers and the importance of listening
Social Media proved to be a very well attended session at the recent Loyalty World conference in London, and number one attraction was Jonathan Harvey, agency group head for Facebook.
But the advice he was giving to the audience of loyalty and marketing executives will sit uncomfortably with accepted working practice which relies on much planning, strategising and performance monitoring of campaigns.
The message from Harvey was loud and clear. “There are hundreds of brands wanting to talk to us, to strategise, and to work out complex action plans, but we cannot stress enough that the only way to operate in the social media space is to start small, iterate, and move out from there. Don’t spend years on strategy, and don’t think in silos. It is about launch, review, then another launch.”
Facebook is currently at the pinnacle of social media importance, especially for the all-important Generation Y (those from 16 to 35 who are tomorrow’s big spenders). It is important to note, however, that Facebook reported last year that the number of users over 35 doubled in 60 days, with the fastest growing demographc being women over 55. There are an estimated 350 million users worldwide.
It has been suggested that if Facebook was a country, it would be the third largest in the world, so it is not surprising that it wants its own currency.
Already, Credits can buy virtual goods from more than 200 applications on the Facebook platform, like special crop seeds or enhanced tractors in the otherwise free-to-play social game FarmVille.
With the selling of Facebook Credit gift cards, it is in the physical world as well.
In the UK they are being sold by Tesco and Game shops, and in the US, by Safeway Stores, Target, Best Buy and Walmart in the run up to the holiday season.
Working with Starbucks and mobile apps
One of the companies with which Facebook is working is Starbucks which is testing a Smartphone app that notifies customers of special offers during quiet periods. For example, they are currently offering a free muffin for those going for a coffee mid-afternoon. They are also asking those signed up to the scheme to vote on this year’s special Christmas flavours, and suggest modifications.
As well as the special coffee and free muffin type incentives, Starbucks is also running a promotion through Facebook Deals in the US where the company will donate $1 (up to $75,000) to Conservational International to help protect 5,000 acres of forest land.
Last year, Facebook gave it a “Blue Ribbon” award for its excellence in use of its Page. An hourly limited giveaway of branded ice cream, with coupons for those who missed the promotion helped Starbucks become the first brand to reach 10 million Facebook “Likes”. It currently has one of the largest pages on Facebook, with 16.9 million Likes, according to industry tracking services.
Facebook CEO Mark Juckerberg said recently about mobile apps: “There are 200 million people using Facebook on phones which is up three times from last year at this time. Another way to look at that is there’s only 200 million people using Facebook on phones. We have more the latter view. Our goal is going to be to expand that and deliver more value for more people before focusing on how we can reap that,” he said.
When users install the new Starbucks app, they’ll first see a count of their check-ins to Starbucks, though only check-ins made after installing the app are counted. Below this is a “What your friends are up to” feed, which shows what Starbucks locations a user’s friends have checked in to. The counter and feed are proving troublesome, and often do not register check-ins at all, or take nearly 24 hours to do so.
In the middle of the app, users see a list of gifts they can unlock and share by checking in to multiple different Starbucks locations, checking in at a certain time, or checking in multiple times in one day.
One positive aspect of the app is that it includes a FAQ section explaining how Places works for those unfamiliar with it.
The right side of the app is taken up by a location leaderboard showing which Starbucks stores have received the most check-ins. Predictably, all three current leaders in the US are in California, with two near Silicon Valley.
Fluid, flexible and regularly updated
While Harvey is insistent that social media initiatives need to be fluid, flexible and regularly changed, he is not suggesting that they are unmeasurable.
He commented: “We work with Nielson to make sure that Social Media is measurable, and also with developers to ensure that measurement is possible.”
Ownership with the consumer
What he was adamant about was that the Social Media space belongs to the consumer, and that to try to organise it or to manage it was foolhardy.
“It is up to the consumer to say, ‘Yes, I want to connect with that brand.’ And if it is done right, brands can learn a lot from what the consumer has to say. But it is important to recognise that while 5% interact, 90% of active users on Facebook are listeners. They might send something they like on to a friend, meaning that your message is getting passed on virally, but they will probably not interact with you directly.”
Harvey estimates that Facebook achieves two times the engagement rates compared to when an advertisement is just pushed to a consumer.
While promoting Facebook as an advertising medium, Harvey was clear that it is not going to be possible for advertisers to direct the type of coverage they have on the site. “Advertisers want big flashy ads, and they suggest that the site colour should be changed from blue to their livery, but this isn’t going to happen. We have a lot of conversations about that. Brands working with us are enjoying a dialogue with customers. They are learning what customers are saying about the brands and what they think. They are working out how to be part of the conversation, rather than owning the page.
“We are listening to Facebook users,” says Harvey. “Are they saying it is too commercial? We are listening to that.”
Harvey says deals are good, but he is conscious that Facebook mustn’t overdo them. He emphasised the value of what the brand can learn from the interaction of Facebook users. “Consumers can opt into a brand. The brand can also see how many fans are opting out.”
The Facebook intention is to encourage local advertising on its pages through its mobile app, that can be activated when a user is close to the store or premises. It is not simply a space for the big boys. Harvey said: “This is a non-monetisation offer for Facebook. It should be possible for a user to walk down the high street and people should be able to engage with their friends, the places they like to visit and what is going on around them. It should be possible for them to see which friends are in the vicinity and invite them for a coffee.”