I think I finally figured out Facebook's role for brands and I have Mastercard to thank.
As I was walking through Grand Central the other day, I was "surrounded" by Mastercard posters that were positioned comprehensively throughout the terminal (see above)
The call to action was "Learn more at facebook.com/mastercard"
That was it.
So let's assume for a moment that I want to "learn more" about "priceless New York experiences". I head to www.facebook.com/mastercard and this is what I'm going to find:
You'll notice that Maino Salako is looking to apply for a Mastercard online. Pretty sure that's not connected to a priceless NYC experience. Or how about Jess Minato, who is pretty peeved about a prepaid Mastercard (which to MC's credit they have already responded to)
Turns out you need to click on the "Priceless NYC" tab, which I'm fairly certain Mastercard could have defaulted to upon page arrival.
Turns out I can be treated like a VIP in NYC and that Mastercard is reserving special concerts, sporting events and dining experiences just for me!
For starters, I'm not sure why the wall posting didn't mention this and instead chose to be a lot more esoteric with the one word, "experience" versus the specificity of events that anyone could relate to like a music concert or a sporting event. In a fleeting New York minute, life is an elevator pitch...
Perhaps it's because the offers aren't really that priceless.
Today's offer in fact is a VIP experience at great NYC restaurants (15 of them to be precise - good luck with reservations) and the experience at hand is a complimentary appetizer and dessert.
Oh and for some reason (3 clicks in), I find that today's - wow - overwhelming offer - is valid MONDAY'S ONLY (their use of caps; not mine), except that today is TUESDAY (my use of caps; not theirs). And only limited tables are available per participating restaurant.
By the way, if you did choose to go to www.mastercard.com, this is what you would have found:
FYI: If you did click on North America, you would a teensy like to "Priceless NYC" amidst additional regional corporatese and even more wasted space:
This post was actually not meant to be a critique at all, let alone a rant. It was actually to make the following point: perhaps the real role of Facebook is as a sublime promotional outlet. Your website is the destination or hub for ongoing visitation and/or transactions. It's goal or role is to offer consistent experiences - whether they are ad hoc purchases or as needed research expeditions for examples.
Facebook on the other hand becomes a fantastic place for your promotions. One tab per promotion. Vanity URL's make for a much easier pathway or pursuit to fulfillment and obliterate the legacy challenges of political battles for online homepage real estate; not to mention complicated and forgettable URL's/extensions.
I heard Facebook CMO, Sheryl Sandberg makes the point that brands don't understand how consumers live their lives. Which is daily. They plan around "campaigns" which are one-offs (like a promotion for example) and communicate in fits and spurts (my words) versus the reality of their consumers which are on Facebook every single day and expect to be communicated to/with likewise.
I don't disagree with Sheryl, but I'm not sure that we should be confusing "paid media" (a brand's attempt to garner our time, attention and action), "owned media" (Facebook presence) and ultimately, "non media" (humans connecting with other humans versus plastic credit cards)
Why I say this is that Mastercard has just 15,615 "likes". Doesn't seem a lot to me and surely one would imagine is less than their random website traffic.
The original point of this post was that Facebook makes for both a panacea for building "momentum" i.e. a continuous and consistent "presence" over time AND a utopian promotional outlet to boot. Case in point, Starbucks has 15,048,464 "likes" and defaults immediately to the "Pumpkin Spice" tab.
Neither of which are really happening with Mastercard.
I would go further to say that - similarly - Facebook should be used IN CONJUNCTION with your web presence, site or hub (whatever you call it). Why give one digital destination option, when you can give two?
That said, Mastercard has other issues so sort out which go way beyond their Facebook strategy and execution (they need help and yes, my company does this really well...but that has nothing to do with this post). It's really an issue of integrated marketing and customer experience - both of which are sorely lacking.
So take from this what you wish. Perhaps it's as simple as better Facebook navigation and user experience. Or perhaps it's about the more strategic use, implementation and integration of social networking in your overall brand AND promotional communications.
Either way, any improvement on just slapping a Facebook vanity URL as a lazy, cure-all "OR" (versus "AND") is going to be....well.....priceless.