Facebook Friends: Branding and Momentum Marketing

Gillette and Coca Cola were two examples of how companies can link emotions to their marketing campaigns. They understood who they wanted to target really well and they knew how to touch their feelings and life experiences in a way that made their products special.

However that was pure Marketing and by this we define the strategy a company uses to sell a product. It’s simple as that. What we are going to cover here is something slightly different, this is Branding or, to some extent, can be referred to as Momentum Marketing.

A clear example is the Facebook Friends campaign. If you have spent the past two years in the UK, you might have noticed Facebook’s ads around. They came in the form of video spots (online), but also physical ads distributed around cities. These were mainly focused on Friendship.

They showed Friends doing things. There wasn’t any rocket science in the spots, which were focused on this simple concept and humanity.

The big question is why a company which has more than 1.3 billion monthly active user spends millions to run a campaign like that? We are talking about a company that has become a verb, do you remember “Facebook me!”? This is also the same company behind WhatsApp, Instagram, Oculus and Internet.org, with a market capitalisation of about $360 billions.

A few people could say that having millions in profits per month is a good reason to allocate a budget for running ads. Others will probably say that Grandma and Grandpa need to be reached in some way. The ladders will probably find this blog post and the ads totally useless.

I do think there is another reason. It’s called Branding and by this I mean the activity of creating an idea that reflects an entire organisation. This implies talking about company X and thinking Y, because Y is what that company stands for.

The way I perceive Branding is a simple association rule and what doesn’t look as Marketing is probably a form of the first. In this case, Facebook is not marketing anything. We all know what it is and how it works (apart from my 84 years old grandpa who is on Facebook without even knowing how to use it — he still sends me messages and likes everything). On the other hand, the company is sending us a message which explicitly says:

“We are the place where Friendships are shared, grown and harvested.”

Why would they run a campaign in the physical world when they could place those ads in our newsfeed?

Because they also want to send us another message which says:

“We are Friendships, but these belong to the Physical world where you can meet someone, enjoy a drink and have fun with your friends.”

This is an interesting bit, because we see a multi-billion dollar company that is trying not to be associated with the internet. As far as I can tell, this was the case for most of us, the dozens of friendships that I have built around the world were physical at first, but then became virtual and thanks to Facebook I was able to keep them alive.

Branding is the key to shape how your organisation looks and feels. Yes, by feeling I mean the emotions that a user mentioning “Facebook” could have. This campaign was also an example of Momentum Marketing. By this I refer to the activity of keeping the name of the company in people’s minds.

Although this wasn’t entirely Momentum Marketing, it’s still a way to keep the “Brand” and “Company” alive in the minds of its users. Why would RBS sponsor the Rugby Six Nations or Heineken the Euro Champions League? Are they selling anything when they put their name on the big screens?

No, they are not marketing anything and they are also not branding their companies. They are just pumping some gas into the existing brand in a way we all remember they exist. This process helps things becoming entities, Heineken is a world known company not just because of their product, some marketing campaign or branding, but because they are always reminding us they are alive.


I build mobile apps in React Native, you can get in touch at: developers@reactnativeapps.com or send me a message through social media.