Facebook’s recent “fMC” marketing conference was a well-orchestrated event. Even more, it was an aggressive mandate for integrated marketing.
I’ll explain, but first let’s digest key updates from the event:
Stories Become Primary Ad Units
At fMC, Facebook unveiled Timeline for Pages, Reach Generator, and Premium on Facebook, all products that position content and stories as the preeminent advertising vehicle.
As my colleague Patrick Chen pointed out, these changes are an evolution of the long-heralded Sponsored Story ad type. They are a mandate for businesses to reevaluate their social and digital marketing strategies.
With a brand’s Timeline now “mission control for business on Facebook,” focus is expanding from conventional ad units to content amplification and engagement with a brand’s existing fans.
On one level, Facebook’s deepening interplay of content, engagement and ads emphasizes the central role of data. The ability to amplify, optimize and report engagement and content requires sophisticated and real-time insights that expand across pages, apps and ads.
This was reflected in Facebook’s recent introduction of real-time insights data, with a latency of minutes versus days. This is what we should expect in digital marketing.
But on another level, Facebook is betting on marketers’ ability to execute the decades-old vision of integrated marketing.
Facebook’s Bet On Integrated Marketing
Facebook’s interplay of content, engagement and ads requires that marketing, advertising and other related functions collaborate seamlessly -- across agencies and client organizations.
I’ve spoken with several CMOs and agencies since fMC, and their response is consistent: Facebook’s vision is brilliant, but it is a functional and executional challenge for today’s marketing organizations.
In this age of frictionless sharing, marketing frictions emerge.
I recently spoke with a senior marketing exec at a large CPG company, who described how consumer relations people are becoming the front-line ambassadors for real-time engagement on social networks. Because they are so tuned into burning issues, relationships and content, they are also becoming ad copywriters. Their organic stories and content become the primary, resonant ad unit. What do all the traditional creatives think about that?
But wait, public relations also has a stake, because they manage relationships with the influential stakeholders and ensure public content stays “on message." And with a quest to shape public opinion through this new messy middle of paid and unpaid media, they also become media planners and buyers, in order to amplify favorable messages and bury and respond to the bad ones. What do traditional media professionals think of that? Or should it be media people getting into PR?
Finally, when someone likes your brand on Facebook, it’s a transaction similar to when someone gives you their email address. Therefore, fan is a metaphor for “opt-in” permission marketing. If that’s the case, shouldn’t direct marketing and CRM analytics people be running the show, or at least at the table with the chief privacy officer? Probably.
These stakeholders need to work together. But can they?
The Near And Long-Term Outcome Of Integrated Marketing
There is no question integrated marketing makes sense. The challenge is that most brands and agencies don’t practice it that well. Disparate knowledge, systems, technologies, budgets, and territorial agendas don’t always transcend functional silos -- in both agency- and client-side organizations.
But Facebook’s prowess and evolution mandate strong and immediate marketing leadership to harness expertise, transcend functional silos, embrace technologies, develop talent and connect efforts to enterprise performance. That’s not easy, and will often be messy.
But over time, social and digital will bind and be a part of every successful institution’s marketing operations -- and that will drive integrated marketing in ways we probably can’t imagine today.
That’s also when standalone corporate social media teams will fade. (See timely article from MediaPost’s Laurie Sullivan.)
It’s great to see a force like Facebook putting some high-octane gas on the slow-burning fire we call marketing evolution.