Entertainment brands get equal footing with people on Facebook

Facebook is becoming a lot more useful for entertainment marketing now that fan pages can look more like profiles.

As the LA Times tech blog explains, “brands” that people are fans of can now control their own pages, just like us commoners. They can now get a wall where anybody can see all their recent activity. And the have “info” and “boxes” (aka applications) tabs, just like all us commoners. They can even do status updates, giving fans micro-messages on what their latest episode or product or tour date is (kinda like Twitter).

Previously individuals could only have up to 5,000 pages, which doesn’t work for big brands. So they were limited to fan pages. Above on the left is an example of what the old-fashioned fan pages looked like, in this case for “Heroes.” As you can see, it’s really basic. Fans can leave notes, pictures and reviews. But there’s no real “activity” by “Heroes” (or rather the people behind it).

By contrast, check out this newfangled page for “South Park.” It looks just like your or my page, except with 1.7 million fans/friends. The wall is updated with new videos, photos, contests, and other stuff the folks at Comedy Central want us to see.

Unlike the old fashioned fan pages, the content on the front of the new one is controlled by the brand itself. It’s all the stuff they want us to see. Fans can still comment, of course, but most of the talk is limited to the special “discussion” tab. It’s basically like a message board.

Lettings brands own their pages is, of course, one step further away from Facebok’s original mission to let Harvard students post individual profiles. It later on became Ivy League students, then all students, then everyone. Along the way members started creating groups around the content they love and brands could make little pages to let people show they are fans.

But now you don’t even need to be a person to get a Facebook profile. “South Park” gets a page just like the rest of us. Members may debate whether it’s a good move for the purity of the social network. But for entertainment brands like movies, TV shows, and bands, engaging with fans on one of the two biggest social networks just got a lot more powerful.

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  2. Sonya Strich says:

    As a college age student I have had experience with facebook and have joined and participated in some of these old “fan” pages in anticipation of a film release or a television series debut. I found it very interesting to learn that these entertainment brands switched their facebook interface. While I agree that the older fan pages limited the amount of information consumers received about the product I believe that these pages were beneficial because they were interactive and spearheaded by a community of fans. Even before fan pages were officially added to Facebook, users formed groups that honored their favorite films like Garden State or Igby Goes Down (group’s name include Igby Goes Down=God and Igby Goes Down > Garden State). Not all of the information on these pages was official nor was it even comprehensive but they were user driven, fan created and therefore conveyed the attitudes of and feedback from those praising or critiquing the films and shows. Taking these fan pages out of the hands of users and putting them into the hands of big companies, as you cited with the South Park Example, is expressly counter to the idea of user driven social networking. I think you are right to lament that “letting brands own their pages is, of course one step further away from Facebook’s original mission to let Harvard students post individual profiles”. I wish you had included in your post information regarding whether these companies pay for these pages. However either way I disagree with Facebook allowing these fan sites to be taken over by the brands at the expense of user control. I think the monetary issue is an important one that should have been addressed in this post. Do you think they are paying for these pages? If they are, do you think this is appropriate for a social networking site?
    Additionally, you claim that “for entertainment brands like movies, TV shows, and bands, engaging with fans on one of the two biggest social networks just got a lot more powerful.” Do you think that fans really want to join a fan site that is monitored by the brand when they could speak more freely and openly on their own site or form their own group? Additionally, how many users are actually using a site like Facebook to look up information on a film when they can access more accurate and detailed information from Imdb.com, or any other movie specific site? What is the benefit of having a page like this on a social networking site which most people use to keep in touch with friends and meet new people? Even if they join a fan page, do most of these users actually interact on a regular basis or contribute to these pages? If not what’s the point? It is very easy to click, add but then forget.

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