By David Holland

April 10, 2015


The Reasons Behind Facebook’s ‘Friends’ Campaign…

If any of you have been watching the TV or using public transport recently you may have noticed that the social network Facebook have been pushing their first ever UK advertising campaign.

A lot of people have asked me “why do Facebook need to advertise? Pretty much everyone has a Facebook account now or at least knows it’s there”.

There are three TV spots that Facebook are using in the UK at the moment which all depict warm moments: people dancing, laughing, making friends and bonding together. Overlaid are soft instrumental soundtracks: “umbrella” by Rihanna, “close to me” by The Cure and “like a prayer” by Madonna.

The billboard and poster campaigns show a large white space with a central square containing images of friends enjoying activities together overlaid by the word ‘friends’ with a tick. Very simple, very clean.

So what’s the purpose? None of these ads contain any call to action, or even much association with Facebook apart from a small Facebook logo and subtle references to the likes, shares and follows of Facebook in the narrative.

The story behind this is that Facebook aren’t doing as well they used to be. At 11 years old Facebook is a dinosaur in the social network circles and is struggling to stay relevant with the likes of Twitter, Vine and Snapchat providing ever more efficient and fun ways to communicate. This boom in fresh, competitive and addictive social network inventions has been stealing the younger market away from Facebook for years, and while I can only assume Zuckerberg’s social empire will have some plan in formulation to capture back the viral generation, the current ad campaign in question is certainly not part of that.

The new TV adverts certainly play on the social aspect of the network and with the narrative “We let their likes become our likes, and the things they share become the things we share. They challenge our point of view, push us out of what’s comfortable, and we trust them just enough to follow” it’s clear Facebook’s creative team ‘The Factory’ are focusing on meaningful connections and interactions.

From the choice of music to the narrative and the situations depicted in the campaign, it’s clear that Facebook aren’t targeting the younger generations that they have so badly lost. This campaign is about their parents. The older generations from 30+ to create more meaningful connections with people and find new friends with interests in common. It’s another market Facebook has struggled to access – those too old to know much about social networking to those who simply haven’t adopted the social generation yet.

So the social giant that is Facebook doesn’t seem to be dominating as much of the market as we first thought, but still, this didn’t stop them reporting a record breaking revenue of over $12 billion, a 58 percent increase year-on-year, and net income of $3 billion. December last year also saw 890 million daily active users, an increase of 18% year-on-year.

But even with ever growing revenues and engagement a prime audience is still being lost. Analysis revealed that over three million teens had left Facebook over just a three year span. Facebook’s previous acquisition of social platform Instagram has certainly proved to retain a large portion of Facebook’s younger market. But Facebook will surely be looking to retain this younger market back to it’s stronghold and I myself will be interested to see the new in-house marketing team’s efforts. 

We can only hope for something a little better than the highly ridiculed ‘Chairs are like Facebook’ campaign that flopped a number of years ago in the US.

About the author

Nice bloke with practical ideas. Former Procter & Gamble, Kraft and IBM sales and marketing executive. Became a business owner 20 years ago. Started multiple businesses including EXELA which is the most successful Keap® & Infusionsoft™ reseller in the EMEA region.

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