Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - Are Brands Becoming Over-Reliant on Facebook for Social Marketing?

Article excerpt

A leading analyst last week warned that brands are leaning too heavily on Facebook as a consumer-engagement tool - and in the process handing control of their valuable data to the social network.

MAYBE - LINDA GRANT, MANAGING DIRECTOR, METRO

Facebook's a great way to engage people in dialogue. It allows brands to connect with their audience directly and lets customers have their views heard and acted on.

When Metro launched its free iPad app, Facebook was useful both for marketing it and gaining real-time feedback. It's also where people share stories from our newspaper and website, so we're able to join in those conversations.

For now, Facebook is where people are and brands need to go to them However, people don't want to be overly sold to on Facebook. Too much one-way selling, and a brand quickly becomes spam. Common sense applies: don't put all your marketing eggs in the one basket, appreciate that things can change overnight, and remember that not everybody uses social media.

Be aware of new platforms too: our tie-up with Foursquare has helped us learn more about geo-targeting and how to exploit it. In the end, engage intelligently with people that use Facebook and ensure you're still speaking in innovative ways to those who don't.

NO - CHRISTIAN CULL, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, TUI UK & IRELAND

We don't have all the answers in the social-media arena, but we recognise our approach needs to be forever evolving. We look on Facebook as one horse in a race of many. Our strategy is to back more than one horse, because we believe no brand should focus on any one option That's true of all media, and certainly true of social media.

We ask ourselves: what would happen if Facebook disappeared tomorrow? (Not that we think it will.) If they don't ask questions like this, businesses run the risk of becoming complacent and unprepared for the future. We know that if Facebook did disappear, people would simply find another online platform on which to meet their friends and family.

Our strategy is to engage customers wherever they choose to live online. While that is Facebook today it could easily be Google+ tomorrow. We try to understand why our customers choose to use each channel and then deliver the content they're looking for in the way they want to receive it. Keep your customers, not the media, central to your business model.

YES - MATTHEW DEARDEN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, CLEAR CHANNEL UK

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