Paul Kitcatt: Anyone can be a copywriter. Well, on Facebook anyway

By Paul Kitcatt, campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 22 March 2012 08:00AM

How many brands are on Facebook? One.

Paul Kitcatt, chief creative officer, Kitcatt Nohr Digitas.

Paul Kitcatt, chief creative officer, Kitcatt Nohr Digitas.

I came to this conclusion while reading The Guardian on Facebook. I opened the online version in a second tab next to it to compare. The content was much the same. But while the website looked distinctly like The Guardian, The Guardian on Facebook looked pretty much like Facebook.

This is supposed to be an advantage. It helps people who've never been outside Facebook (what a thought) discover the wonders of The Guardian, painlessly. And then they can share it.

What remains of the Guardian brand on Facebook is its written style. So I was consoling myself with the thought that at least something of the brand was still there, and with the less noble thought that, as a copywriter, I have a future, though my art directors and designers may not, when along came Facebook Premium ads: "... the new formats will draw their content exclusively from posts to brands' Facebook Pages, rather from advertising copy written independently."

This is the new way to advertise on Facebook. It's said (by Facebook) that "Premium ads with enhanced social context are 80 per cent more likely to be remembered, driving 40 per cent more engagement and a significant increase in purchase intent".

That's me done for, then. The future belongs to ads without "copy written independently". Or, as you might say, without copy written by someone who can write, and who has the brands' interests at heart, and who has experience of getting people to do things in response to advertising. The figures above prove we are now redundant.

The ads, as illustrated on Facebook's guide, consist of a product shot and an initial post from the brand. Then your friends join in, adding their own comments and "likes" etc.

The result is an ad that starts out looking like something from a small regional newspaper and ends up looking like ...

Facebook.

It's natural that all brands should look like Facebook, as all Facebook users do already, so one can most easily be sold to the other. If in doubt about which way this transaction goes, remember this: "If you are not paying for it, you're not the customer - you're the product being sold." Thank you, Andrew Lewis, aka blue_beetle on metafilter.com.

Will turning Facebook into an enormous Tupperware party work? Will we happily be seduced by ads in which our "friends" recommend us the contents of their shopping trolleys? Will we all become unpaid copywriters for brands we like? And what will happen when this goes into, let's say, financial services, where the copy is usually subject to strict rules?

And is it OK for there to be only one brand on Facebook? Perhaps, if we trust it enough ...

Paul Kitcatt is the chief creative officer at Kitcatt Nohr Digitas.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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