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Social PR Mandate: You’ve Got 25 Minutes to Go

Roger Warner Written by: Roger Warner October 17, 2011  
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The average Facebook session in the UK lasts for 25 minutes according to Experian. This number is interesting. 25 minutes per session – probably once a day, possibly more – represents a lot of time and dedication to the platform. It’s even more elsewhere in the world.

Experian suggests that this number alone “illustrates the importance of brands needing to be on social networks […to] increase the likelihood of capturing an individual’s attention by running digital marketing campaigns.”

Whilst this is an obvious conclusion, I’m not so sure myself.

Importantly, this 25 minutes of Facebook is 25 minutes of time that will have been dedicated to other things in the past.

I’m more of a mind to say that 25 minutes of Facebook means that marketers now need to think very differently about how they capture the attention of their audiences.

Too often the job of “running digital marketing campaigns” on Social Media seems to result in a mish mash of other forms of marketing (digital and non-digital). Creative that was conceived for TV ends up on YouTube and Facebook, loosely bound by an incentive to Like a page. Or, worse, brands simply turn up to chat and expect a reaction (“Hey everybody, how was your weekend!!!????”).

This won’t do. Just turning up doesn’t work and it certainly doesn’t scale.

It’s lazy – based on an assumption that the 25 minutes we now spend on Facebook was previously devoted to 25 minutes of tuning into other forms of brand messages.

Well, it wasn’t – we were doing other things. And, crucially, the time we now spend on Facebook (and Twitter, and others) is 25 minutes of chatting to friends, organising get togethers, catching up with family, scheming about work and watching LOL cats.

Which means most brand expectations on Facebook are out of sync with the people they’re trying to reach.

Strange things happen when a software/FMCG/travel/etc company starts to compete with friends and family.

See below…

Or, should I say strange things start to happen when brands don’t compete with friends and family. (I’m not heading to Barbados anytime soon – but I might tune into some music from Beruit today as a result of Kelvin’s steer.)

Different research suggests different reasons for why people choose to follow brands on Social Media. Here’s an example (from our friends at Engage Sciences):

I have no idea how rigorous the data sampling might have been, but I agree with the sentiment. (The research is from email marketing firm Exact Target.) If it’s a toss up between checking out my sister’s latest family pix and time hanging out with a brand, then I probably want some sort of reward (or alternate value). At the very least I want to be entertained. This is the contract and it’s not new. Without these things, marketing becomes just information …and ends up in the bin, or – just as bad – pushed aside and marginalised to the edges my Social stream.

25 Minutes to Go

’25 Minutes to Go’ should be a planning mandate for all digital marketers. If we adopt this mentality then I’m fairly sure that the brand communication products that end up on Facebook will improve and become more effective.

They will be activities, not plain old stories. See Heinz’s Get Well Soup. (But if you want to push me a story, make sure it’s more interesting than the one Digby shared with me about his epic all nighter last weekend.)

They will be tools that add value to the relationships and information that’s passed between friends, not just product data sheets. See Nike+. (But if you want to give me education, make sure it’s more compelling than the steer I just got from Liam about which speakers to buy.)

They will be slices of entertainment that can’t be had elsewhere, not just any old film snippet. See Rise of the Planet of the Apes. (But if you want to give me a video, make sure it’s more amusing that the video of Rowan’s nephew at the park.)

…etc.

By and large they’ll be more than a series of messages.

They’ll be different because they will be experiences that place the brand in amongst the fabric of our social (small ‘s’) lives.

And most importantly, they’ll be different, bold and (Socially – capital ‘S’) CREATIVE – because in order to work they have to cut through into a 25 minute stream of all the rest of my life.

 
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