OPINION20 June 2012

When Facebook talks, Cannes listens

The sell-out event of yesterday had to be Facebook’s talk, and it didn’t disappoint. Among the gems of insight there was a bit of drama too, when global head of brand design Paul Adams got a dose of stage fright, froze and actually needed to leave the stage to compose himself before carrying on. The Cannes audience gave him a very generous welcome back and it was definitely a good recovery from what could have been a high-profile PR gaff. 

But let’s turn to the meat of the talk. First came a history lesson reminding us all of how poor we as marketers are at using new formats and how we overlay the rules of what’s gone before onto new technology, rather than work out what is most appropriate. We got to see the first ever TV ad, which was quite an underwhelming experience and a nice demonstration of this point, as really it was a mix of a static print and radio ad techniques.

Essentially advertisers were told that they are not using Facebook in the right way yet. Facebook is about engagement and interaction rather than diverting attention to a brand’s messages. This means that we need to work harder at adding to this engagement, not disrupting it. 

One example Adams gave of how to use Facebook effectively featured the TV show Dallas and their re-launch campaign. To fill in the gaps since it was last aired it has populated Facebook’s timeline explaining the back-story and providing different pieces of content for fans to interact with and share. 

Adams explained that he is often asked to provide some top tips on ‘social’ and said that his best advice was to go and speak to your friends and family. Learn what interests them, learn about conversations and then start your own. He also predicted the future and a place where our sharing will be extended and where we will be able to see what brands and products our friends are buying and their thoughts on them. 

To me the most interesting point focused on how we should be planning social campaigns and rather than focusing on what we want to do, we should be looking at what we can do for consumers. It’s about looking at people’s existing behaviour and supporting it, not trying to change it. 

“For decades, people who pushed the boundaries of print and TV advertising sat in these rooms and were inspired,” said Adams. “Some people here are going to look at the transformational technology of today and… embrace it and go on to do incredible, amazing creative things. Make sure it is you, and not just your neighbour.”


1 Comment

12 years ago

"When Facebook talks, Cannes listens" The truth is, when Facebook talks, *everyone* seems to listen. The problem is, nobody seems to ask them any kind of probing questions, to really discover the depth or insight behind what they're saying. At ESOMAR's congress in Miami last year, for example, I was frankly depressed at how excited everyone got over Facebook saying "hey, we can do surveys, yay us!", rather than asking for substance behind it. And as for this: "Essentially advertisers were told that they are not using Facebook in the right way yet" - it's a familiar refrain from Facebook, generally as a riposte to "Facebook doesn't work for advertisers" (quoted by various consumer studies and advertiser case studies). Yet when AOL or CNN talk about "how do advertise right on our sites", people mutter about how it's just a sales pitch masquerading as insight. One rule for the old hands, one for the new exciting hypemachines, it seems.

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