Close-Up: Get a more tactical edge on playing fields of Facebook

Facebook Studio is an online showcase of the best ad campaigns that have used the network. Matt Williams finds out how brands can benefit.

Having spent the past seven years helping more than half-a-billion people ignite friendships, Facebook is keen to make friends of its own. And one of its main aims is to build better relationships with ad agencies.

The social networking site has not been afraid to admit that it has sometimes struggled to engage with the ad community, but appears to be beginning to make the changes necessary to reverse that.

It made a start last year by appointing a global head of agency relations, and kicked off a dialogue with agencies that has now resulted in the launch of Facebook Studio, an online showcase that presents the very best advertising campaigns that have used the social networking platform.

"Facebook Studio will aim to inspire, educate and empower," Stephen Haines, the commercial director of Facebook UK, says. Any agency can submit its work on behalf of its clients, and every campaign will be sorted into galleries based on how many "likes" it receives from users. It's hoped that the work will highlight the elements needed for agencies to produce strong future campaigns, and help banish the "common misconceptions" that the platform is limited because of its ad unit size.

"We've already gone past the stage that having a Facebook campaign is a novelty for brands," Martin Blinder, the partner and head of creative at Essence, which was one of the first agencies to beta test the site's advertising platform, admits.

"Now is the time to be more innovative and this is Facebook's way of facilitating that. Ever since we've been working with them, they've helped us to identify new advantages to using its platform. So if this can be done on a broader scale, then it's win-win," he adds.

But JWT's executive planning director, Tony Quinn, warns that when it comes to taking inspiration from exciting and innovative campaigns that the Studio aims to showcase, brands must still remember Facebook's place in their own overall advertising strategy.

"The problem is many still see social networks as strategies in themselves rather than the tactical playing fields they really are," he says. "Far too many brands jump all over Facebook and other social networks as the ultimate solution to all their brand problems.

"I was reading some research recently when the question was posed: do brands belong on Facebook? 'Yes,' one respondent replied, 'as long I bring them in.'

Some brands would do well to remember this."

MY FAVOURITE FACEBOOK CAMPAIGN

Zaid Al-Zaidy chief strategy officer, TBWA\London

I'm going to nominate Burger King's "Whopper sacrifice".

It's only two years old but already a "classic" that got millions talking while pronouncing to the marketing industry the new power potential of "social media". And it was great to see Facebook squirm and force the campaign off its site.

"Whopper sacrifice" was an app that enabled people to defriend or "sacrifice" ten friends in return for a free Whopper. Within one week of going live, 90,000 people had sacrificed 234,000 friends and, soon, surrounding buzz generated a further 35 million free media impressions.

I love that, in essence, it was a "grubby couponing event" that became popular entertainment and reached shedloads of people.

Or does it owe its success to the cachet of being banned? Even though it won't admit it, Facebook banned it because it played to an unsuitable truth - we've millions of disposable, faux friends on Facebook, which is making it a less valuable personal space.

Andy Fowler executive creative director, Brothers and Sisters

Forsman & Bodenfors in Sweden is a cool place that does good work. It has mastered Facebook for brands in a way that very few have.

Its Ikea campaign was the first to claim one of Facebook's most commonly used functions as its own: tagging. To launch a new Ikea store in Malmo, it created a new Facebook page for the store manager, then uploaded photos of new furniture on to it. The first to tag it, won it.

Simple, very viral, very cool, very keep-on-coming-back-to-Facebook to see if he's uploaded another one.

The thing is, Facebook is pretty limiting. It has a tight visual structure that doesn't allow much creativity.

So the great Facebook campaigns work with that structure, not against it. They find clever and original ways of using the most popular functions.

Tagging, like, friend request, profile picture - these are the functions people use every day. They're part of their life now as much as breathing and eating.

If you can persuade them to click one of these for you in a memorable way, that's an emotional thing.

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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).