The company interviewed 566 online retailers ranging from big brands to small, niche sites and came to the following conclusions:
- Consumers don’t yet trust social media – 55% of consumers are “uncomfortable” providing credit card information on social sites.
- Retailers need strategies for social media – social media should complement existing storefronts rather than just replacing them.
- Retailers haven’t learned to act like “people” – retailers overwhelmingly act like “stores” instead of building a personality around their brands.
To this last point, in a related blog post Argyle’s director of marketing and operations Tristan Handy said that Facebook is forcing brands to act more like people. “The biggest change for marketers is this: you are no longer allowed to use Facebook as Yet Another Ad Network,” he said.
Handy cited three reasons the switch to Timelines for brand pages mandates such change:
- Marketers used to set a default tab, and then plaster a full-page promotion across it. This isn’t social media marketing–this is banner advertising. Facebook says no.
- Marketers used to “ask for the Like” everywhere they possibly could. Real people don’t do this, and it has now been disallowed in primary content areas.
- Marketers used to only interact in public, in ways that encourage virality. Real people also exchange private messages, pure 1:1 communications. Facebook now enables this.
He encourages marketers to develop a personality around their brands and suggests that they ask this question, “If your brand were a person, who would it be?”
There has been talk of Facebook brand pages going the way of the albatross thanks to a focus away from brand-to-fan communications in favor of friend-to-friend sharing via the newsfeed. However, if brands can act more like people – something the introduction of Timelines seems to support – then perhaps there is hope for them yet.