From Connection to Engagement

While some in B2B still argue about the value of social connections (a term which I prefer to social media), the movers and shakers at Facebook have already pushed on to what they see as the next phase, which is improving the kind of engagements available to users.

As Zuckerberg said, the acceptance of social connections is no longer in question… their use is, in his words, ubiquitous worldwide. (He points to the fact that one afternoon last month, 1/2 billion people were on FB.) Simply put, social connections/media are now a given. Full stop.

But here’s the rub for Facebook and, by extension, B2B and B2C marketers: the kind of engagements (experiences) we now have are quickly becoming boring and tedious: we check Facebook because we feel we have to, not because we want to. The ‘fun’ and ‘novelty’ of FB are gone – meaning it could become the next MySpace if left untended.

Zuckerberg is no fool and remembers what he did to MySpace… so enter the new Facebook, which will add what’s missing in today’s social connections and, in my opinion, today’s B2B marketing: immediacy and authenticity.

B2B marketing and advertising have been cursed with a tradition of cold, flat efforts that barely connect with customers. There has been little immediacy, something that engages the customer now, and precious little authenticity, unless you think the usual fare (championed by the likes of Siemens and the boringly audacious “We’re Siemens, We Can Do That” style of marketing) is still viable in this day and age.

Zuckerberg might seem to be full of himself, maybe even a bit of a jerk, but he’s not stupid. He saw what happened to My Space, it got boring and users left in droves, and he won’t let FB have the same fate.

For B2B, we should learn this same lesson: consumers, your customers, will jump ship if your marketing efforts are boring, cold, and me-too.  A bored customer is ripe for the competition’s picking. Everything we do as marketers now comes down to immediacy and authenticity.