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Posts Tagged ‘Social Microsites’
For years, the standby of many online direct marketers has been the use of web advertising & emails to drive customers to a linear “Conversion Microsite”. While this model remained a huge percentage online of media and production spend in 2009, I’m going argue that its dominance is waning. Brands are using Facebook to create a new class of Social Microsites that are more effective at creating both campaign-specific and long-term momentum for brands, and provide a model for what is to come.
Mouse-Traps vs. Mouse-Parties
Underlying this microsite evolution is a shift in the way marketers look at the online “conversion funnel”. The traditional, linear approach:
- Click on Banner
- Land on Microsite
- Fill out the Form
…has been designed and refined with a constrained, one-way funnel (A-I-D-A) in mind. Effectiveness depends on winnowing down and qualifying out prospects quickly until you are left only with the handful who actually convert (fill out the form). And most attempts to create a “better mouse-trap” have focused on removing everything but the call to action so that prospects have no recourse but to either convert or leave.
Recognizing the potential of Social Microsites requires broadening one’s view of the traditional marketing funnel to include social momentum components – such as sharing, word of mouth, referrals and evangelism. If you engage prospects in a meaningful way – and aren’t just shoving conversion form in their face – a large percentage of them will create momentum and value for your campaign… assuming the tools are available for them to do so. In this approach, the goal is instead to create a “better mouse-party”, that attracts prospects and customers through the social momentum it generates and amplifies.
Facebook: This first real landscape for Social Microsites
These word-of-mouth marketing principles aren’t new, but until recently there hasn’t been a place where the online audience and social marketing tools came together on a scale that could deliver significant, repeatable results. Enter Facebook.
Facebook, with its trifecta of Ads + Pages & Tabs + Custom Apps for an audience of over 350 million, arguably offers marketers the first large-scale online landscape with all the necessary ingredients to support this kind of social marketing and momentum. We are seeing brands and agencies increasingly shifting their focus from “traditional” microsites into properties and programs that leverage Facebook as a focal point and momentum hub for a given campaign.
While these Social Microsite initiatives often carry ROI goals that are inherited from traditional Microsites (clicks, interactions, conversions), they also target social momentum metrics that offer as more value in the long term: engagement, share of voice, insight, evangelism, etc. And just as Interface Design was the key to conversion success in traditional microsites, so is Social Experience Design critical to creating effective momentum in this new landscape.
Predicting the Future: Social marketing evolution will accelerate
While Facebook Ads + Pages + Apps have been the first to combine these elements into a landscape that foreshadows the evolution of traditional microsites into something much more social and integrated – other models are already on the horizon.
Companies are using Facebook Connect to create social momentum on their own properties, and Facebook’s forthcoming OpenGraph API will likely extend that capability. Google has a raft of social momentum and integration frameworks in play, and while they have yet to explicitly connect these to AdSense – it can’t be long. Finally, advertising networks- hungry for differentiation in a crowded market- are working quickly to integrate social capabilities into campaigns that cross sites, properties and mobile experiences.
Ultimately, the pace of evolution will likely be governed by marketers’ ability to capture the metrics associated with these new social momentum models. In order for Social Microsites to overtake their conversion-centric ancestors, they will have to be more effective at capturing direct marketing budgets… which means proving ROI. Certainly an interesting opportunity – and challenge – for those focused on measuring online marketing effectiveness today.
Kevin Tate is a principal at StepChange Group, who develops Facebook, widgets, and social websites for Microsoft, Clorox, Nike, Frito Lay, Ernst and Young, Bayer, and more. Kevin was formerly the VP of Marketing at Kronos, and VP of Business Development at Fort Point Partners. He is a frequent speaker on the topic of Social Marketing, and currently serves on the board the Portland Advertising Federation.