David Emery – Head of Digital Marketing for Beggars Group – is a person whose opinions I respect enormously. The irony of this is that often our opinions differ quite a bit, but any discussion with him regarding digital marketing always makes me think harder and analyse my own view more and that is never a bad thing. David mailed me this response to my article “Are Facebook Pages still a valuable marketing platform for bands?” and with his permission I’m reposting it here for you all to read. Look out for more posts from David in the future.

I feel like something of an rebel at this point as – unlike seemingly the rest of the tech community – I quite like Facebook. They’re a developer powerhouse, and with their recent acquisitions becoming increasingly a design powerhouse as well (the new timeline is a lovely piece of work, for example).

They don’t always get things right, but they try lots of things and that’s far more interesting then being cautious – just look at the amount of development and change of Facebook in the last couple of years versus Twitter, for example.

The new ticker, and associated “Frictionless” sharing is a great example of them taking a chance on a concept, and to me it makes a lot of sense but could do with a bit of refining.

The idea of sharing more things to Facebook opens up all sorts of possibilities (and not just for advertisers) – aggregating this sort of data together and using it to surface trends amongst your social group could be very interesting, and is obviously the direction they’re heading but they’re only part of the way down that road.

I don’t see this kind of activity having a noticeable impact (negative or otherwise) to existing pages, and I mean that figuratively and quite literally – delving through the Facebook stats across all the different pages we administer (from ones with millions of likes down to ones with hundreds) there’s no noticeable trends since the F8.

Yes, obviously there are now some new story types popping up in the news feed which presumably means you’re less likely to see stories from pages, but I don’t think this is significant – it’s no worse then if the user has liked a couple more other pages; you’re always going to have a lot of other content to contend with.

And it is worth remembering that these posts are *the* most important thing on Facebook – it is, at it’s heart, a communication platform. People don’t really go to Facebook pages, or at least not as a primary source of information; they like the page and then get all of the content through the news feed.

You can spend a lot of time pimping out your Facebook page and turning it into something akin to a MySpace page of old but that’s like pimping out your email signup page; people are probably going to only see it once (if that, as there’s so many ways of liking a page that don’t involve going to it).

Of course, with the way the news feed works not everyone that is a fan of a page necessarily gets to see an update that you post – it optimises what you see depending on a whole bunch of factors, like what you and your friends have previously engaged with and how old the post is.

This on the face of it seems like a big problem – “I’m not getting to half my audience!” – but is actually 1) exactly what you really want and 2) no different from other platforms (it’s just we get better stats from Facebook so we know about it).

How is it actually what you want? Because Facebook is doing all the hard work figuring out who your most engaged fans are for you, the ones that will click stuff and react the best. It’s so very easy to get caught up in a numbers game, especially online where numbers are so easy to come by, and it’s easy to forget that more does not necessarily mean better.

What you want are genuine connections to genuine fans, and that’s the platform that Facebook is providing, and that’s why Facebook is – on a like for like basis – so much more powerful and driving traffic and interactions then other platforms in my experience.

So, on the topic of other platforms it’s easy to compare news posts to tweets and start to wonder about the stats you get from Facebook saying that only 5% of your fans viewed that post, which could lead you to the conclusion that maybe Twitter is better.

Its feed doesn’t have the optimising logic and multi item types of Facebook and hence has less competition for your news, so you can make more impact, right? That has its own, more powerful downsides though, that simplicity causes just as many problems as it solves.

The Twitter stream moves very quickly, and hence unless your followers are all checking once every 10 minutes they’re liable not to see what you’ve posted, and Twitter is purely time-based, so you don’t have the benefit of an algorithm bringing your post to the top if someone is likely to want to see it.

Of course, Twitter does have the benefit of retweets and trends, both of which don’t translate to Facebook (yes, you can share posted items but it’s not as ingrained as retweeting).

So, all in all it strikes me that Facebook is still massively relevant for music marketing – in fact, and think its the single most powerful marketing channel online at the moment (although that’s not to say it should be your only one).

Of course, it will not be in that position forever, and having said all of the above I could see that the current level of unease with Facebook could definitely leave a space for someone to take their dominance away from them.

I’d be surprised at this point if it was Google+, as they seem to be coming at it from a “me too” angle, and it just doesn’t seem to be working. Time will tell of course, but I imagine whoever takes Facebook’s crown will be doing something slightly different, and I bet you anything they’ll be doing it on mobiles first…