last week saw another step towards community and existing-customer-based comms planning becoming the predominant way through which brands can connect with audiences. PSFK carried the story that Facebook is to launch VIP areas for brands. the article notes that:
"Brands on Facebook are going to be able to reward loyal customers with VIP areas and rewards. The new and exclusive pages help brands find the people who influence others in their shopping habits and what they like. Once inside these filtered pages, users will gain access to prizes and be able to interact more directly with companies." PSFK post June 23
it's the next in a logical progression towards brands and marketers having significantly more one-on-one communications with their existing Very Involved People (or VIPs). I posted in May about how a combination of owned then earned media was increasingly becoming the primary means through which some brands connect and engage audiences. far from limiting the extent of a brands potential connections, it can create a far more meaningful and engaging dialogue with VIPs and then the wider circles that they in turn influence.
and all this is increasingly measurable. Klout (the partner working with Audi to deliver the above example) is just one example of platforms that are increasingly able to measure who influences and is influenced by whom. that brands will become fully-incorporated members of this dynamic is inevitable.
the watch-out … another increase in the power-base of Zuckerberg's already powerful platform. whilst it makes sense for brands that can't deliver this through their owned media to lease some media real estate from facebook, the ideal is surely to have a red carpet of your own. that way you build the community, own the platform on which the community is based, and aren't at the mercy of changes in the tenancy agreement if facebook decides to change it.
the questions for brands are clear: who are your VIPs, and where are you laying out a carpet for them?