It’s not a new concept for companies to promote their Facebook pages - whether in store, via their website or for a dedicated page campaign - as they scurry to acquire fans in a race against their competitors. However, over the past few months some big brands have caught my eye - Facebook addresses have started to appear where one is used to seeing a regular website url.

These promotions have not been limited to one channel of advertising either. www.facebook.com/adidasfootball has been advertised at televised football matches on outdoor digital banners, different world cup sponsors took advantage of campaigns on product packaging and more recently www.facebook.com/Smirnoff is being pushed through television adverts – Facebook pages are turning mainstream but why is that exactly and will brands gradually turn their backs on websites?

When a user likes a big brand, they are recommending the product to their friends, an element that isn’t usually visible when visiting a website. This support, whether the user realises it or not, helps to make their friends more likely to buy that product over a competitor’s. Although websites can be more creative, engaging, and offer much more than a Facebook page ever could dream of, to gain the same level of visibility in a user’s everyday life, the said Facebooker would have to make the effort to visit the website, over and over again. Just the one act of logging into Facebook, which the majority of users do at least once a day, gives brands a greater opportunity of squeezing themselves into people’s personal lives. Appearing within the news feed, a brand becomes like a trusted friend, there in the background, always there to say hello.

Through well thought out engagement, from wall posts to game and competition tabs, brands should endeavour to remind the user why they liked them in the first place, prompting them to stay loyal and continue to buy their product. Those users who like and comment on the brand’s activity are continually validating the brand and its products to other friends. It’s no wonder that a clever strategy, devised by in house specialists or a dedicated social media agency, connecting with the psyche of fans, can lead to the self perpetuating acquisition of new followers. Corporations can obviously reaffirm their brand personality through a website but social media platforms allow businesses to try out new characteristics in a more light hearted way and a clever, killer campaign can bring thousands of new fans in a single day in a way that traditional website campaigns often can’t achieve.  

Only each business knows how many people visit their website but the number of Facebook followers one has is a badge of honour, out there for the world to see, to admire and be jealous of. This works in a similar way for individual users too, one can’t dismiss the fashion factor. How many people become a fan of a brand because the latest campaign, which probably promotes the Facebook page and not their website url, happens to be trendy?

Whether you think promoting Facebook pages is the future or not, currently there are three good reasons why brands shouldn’t abandon their websites just yet -

  • Until open graph really takes off, Facebook doesn’t carry the search engine optimisation benefit –  visibility in Google is arguably the most important online factor in digital PR
  • Not everybody has a Facebook profile so brands should ensure they are accessible to all – remember, just because we have email, we still have postal addresses and phone numbers so brands should not alienate part of their audience
  • Brands don’t have complete control over their Facebook pages – the rules change all the time, even a change in page size caused problems for many recently, so brands have to be prepared for any eventuality and accept that hard work could go to waste at some point in time