Is your brand idea up to snuff? Find out on Facebook
A view from Russell Davies

Is your brand idea up to snuff? Find out on Facebook

A few things cropped up in conversation this week and, as I sat down to write this, I realised how they might be connected.

The first was the perennial "what shall we do on Facebook?" conversation. I'm sure you know the one. I've never had a lot of time for Facebook but I know that's a failing in me, not it. It's like being one of those kids at school whose family didn't own a television.

Despite reporting a slowdown in growth for the second month in a row, Facebook is online media for millions of people and should be embraced as such. The problem, though, still, for lots of brand and media organisations is: what shall we do with it? What's it for? The relentless hunt for "likes" is clearly a dead end, just a score that can be maximised but not proven to be any actual use in selling anything. I can't imagine it'll be something we're pursuing much in a few years' time.

The second was about "minimum viable product" - a term I mentioned a few weeks ago that has intrigued a few people.

Minimum viable product is a term popularised in web design - the idea being to make something that's enough, and just enough, for you to determine whether it's going to work. Not a research tool as we would understand it, shown to people in an artificial environment, but as something that can be put in the real world and properly evaluated.

This makes a lot of sense for product and service designers but is harder for marketers to think about. How do you put brand ideas in the world in a "minimum viable product" way? It scares us in the same way that something like scares us - why would we show the public something that's not as perfect and polished as it can be? It goes against the grain of our training.

And then I realised that's what smart people are doing with Facebook. Using it as a platform to test "minimally viable" marketing ideas.

After all, Facebook can still deliver you lots of people, but in a relatively controlled way and in an environment where people aren't necessarily expecting an immersive, aesthetically refined brand experience. So you don't have to worry about that.

I've always thought of Facebook as more of a mall than a playground, and marked it down for that reason. But, in this case, that might be its virtue. It's the perfect environment to create a pop-up store and see what people think of your new idea. All the infrastructure and permissions you need are built in, so you can deploy your idea with minimal creative effort.

The question will be: do you dare?