Tuesday, 25 January 2011

'This is not email''

Marketers should embrace Facebook’s ’’ this is not email ‘’ announcement

Does anyone remember Public Image Ltd’s 1983 single This Is Not A Love Song in 1983, the song's lyric lampooning the ire from some fans and the music press over the band's movement towards a more commercial style. The song's title was inspired by a line in the song "Her Story" (1979) by Virgin label stablemates the Flying Lizards, about bands 'selling out' their artistic principles for commercial success ("But you can still make money, by singing sweet songs of love... this is a love song"). Ironically, it gave the band their biggest international hit single, reaching #5 in the UK singles charts. ( source : wikipedia )

This seems to have some resonance with Facebook’s announcement  late last year (which we all knew was coming ) and has a massive impact on not just email marketers, but anyone that works in marketing, advertising, eCRM etc.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook Messages will offer users the opportunity to collate text/SMS messages, emails and instant messages all in one place. This has been much written, blogged, tweeted about, with the sentiments varying from it being of no significance to it being game changing.

My view is that it is a massive opportunity for marketers to engage more fully with their prospects/customers in a place where the latter want to ‘hang out’. We know that the average Facebook user spends about 7 hours per month there (far outstripping the time they spend on Google, Yahoo, Bing etc) but that they still use email to interact as well in particular where a longer perhaps more crafted message is required. The system’s central thesis is that messaging should be simple and unified. Hallelujah!!
My view is that it is a massive opportunity for marketers to engage more fully with their prospects and customers in a place where the latter want to ‘hang out’.

If we look at how brands are actively using Facebook to start conversations with their customers via Facebook and then continuing that conversation via email eg Easyjet allowing you to start the booking process from inside Facebook, then this new announcement makes the whole process much more self-contained and seamless. That is as long we marketers finally learn our lesson that the messaging needs to be relevant. Because ‘Friends’ emails will be kept apart from the rest, there is a chance that Facebook users won’t ‘’ just come across’’ your random promotional email. ‘’ If someone you know isn't on Facebook, that person's email will initially go into the Other folder. You can easily move that conversation into the Inbox, and all the future conversations with that friend will show up there’’ So essentially they have the equivalent of the Gmail Priority Inbox .The only way your message will gain ‘’Priority’’ is in the fact that it is relevant!

I envisage a large proportion of the 500 million worldwide users of Facebook will take up the @Facebook.com offer. As marketers we need to keep an eye on the uptake and indeed what proportion of our customers go for multiple email addresses ( as if we don’t already) and where we engage within Facebook already, reinforce that engagement via @Facebook.com.
And of course relevancy isn’t something you acquire overnight. People have long memories about how irrelevant your last 3 months of messages have been! We need to segment, tailor, personalize be relevant now!

This may not be a love song, but Facebook and email could very well be a beautiful love story

(This article was first posted here)

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