Facebook page tagging: What does it mean for your brand?

Jun. 9th, 2011

Tag you're itTagging could signify more for your brand than "liking," but does this form of social recommendation mean putting too much control in the hands of consumers?

Last month, Facebook announced its newest social recommendation initiative—page tagging. We're all familiar with the art of tagging: You go out with friends to see a Giants baseball game, you take photos, post them on Facebook, and label names to faces.

Now with page tagging, when you go to a Giants game and take pictures, you can tag all of your friends, plus AT&T Park and all of the soft drink, beer and snack brands you might be enjoying (assuming that each brand has an associated page on Facebook). You can even tag your smartphone or the brand of jeans you're wearing. And if you're someone who allows your photos and albums to be seen by "everyone," your tagged photo will appear on that brand's page.

On one hand, this sounds like a great idea. Before, with basic "likes," Facebookers could pay homage to your brand with a simple pledge of interest or appreciation, but the buck stopped there. For example, I may "like" Ferrari, but do I own one? Do I ever plan to?

According to a recent article on FastCompany.com, "Likes are currently the way that users express their support for a particular brand." But aside from passively expressing interest, does "liking" assume a user's willingness or intent to put their money where their mouse clicks are?

The answer seems to be no, not really. According to a report by ExactTarget, only 17 percent of users who "like" at least one brand on Facebook say they're more likely to buy after "liking."

Yet with page tags, the proof is in the picture: Here I am. I'm wearing Levis and drinking Mountain Dew at AT&T Park. I don't just like these brands, I am actively engaged with them.

Just like a graphic tee that displays a brand's name and logo, tagged brands are grateful for the effortless promotion. On top of that, there's the underlying implication that one friend's endorsement will spark a wildfire of interest amongst their network.

But what are the costs of relinquishing some control over your brand to the consumers who engage with it? In exchange for greater exposure, do you get, possibly, bad exposure?

On Facebook's Feature Launch page, it displays charming young people proudly beaming with, say, a can of Coke. The brand is nicely and prominently displayed in a way that adheres to its established identity. That's the ideal situation.

Now say your product is tagged incorrectly or in an inappropriate situation, one that is contrary to your branding strategies. How will this affect a company's image, especially those with lesser-known or defined identities? What's the implication of allowing a user to serve the brand, rather than the other way around?

Though the possibility for positive, effective marketing exposure is clear, does page tagging put your brand at the mercy of Facebook's 500,000,000 active users' judgment—good or bad?

What are your thoughts on page tagging? We'd love to hear from you.

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