"It's an amazing opportunity to create content, understand social behavior, understand what the content is for and who it's for, and see it spread and watch people share it and move it," he said. "But you have to understand why people interact offline, and why we've interacted socially for tens of thousands of years."
So, why do we interact? "Sharing is a means to an end," Adams said. "People share things because they're trying to build relationships, or manage their identity, or help other people. … As people, we're not actually changing fast at all. Our motivations for social interaction are the same online as they are offline, the same as they've been since the dawn of time. People who are trying to disrupt that and create new ways of interaction won't succeed. You have to look at people's existing social-network behavior and support it."
Adams laid out the obvious advantages to brands inherent in the kind of behavioral consumer data that Facebook collects—that it allows companies to target offers and experiences to specific people at specific times. But his most concrete advice was directed squarely at agency creatives.
He presented four tips for approaching Facebook marketing: Make social interaction a fundamental part of the creative brief; base one's creative ideas on real insight about social interaction; think of Facebook as a new type of creative canvas that isn't just a depository for print and TV ads; and focus on designing brands' news feeds before jumping into app development.
Addressing complaints about the small size of ads on the site, however, Adams suggested that brands should indeed use Facebook's page posts—which can feature quite large photos these days—to share beautifully written and art directed print ads. Facebook is not just a friend to digital connectivity types, he seemed to be saying. It can also be a friend to creatives who just love to create a good (literally) old-fashioned ad.
While acknowledging that advertising and branding on Facebook is still very much in beta mode, Adams also warned creatives not to get left behind while someone else finds the creative solutions that will eventually realize the full potential of Facebook's giant user base.
"All of this is not going to happen without the industry and the people in this room," he said. "We are not building a social agency. We are a partnership company. We want to work with you guys. … For decades, people who pushed the boundaries of print and TV advertising sat in these rooms and were inspired. Some people here are going to look at the transformational technology of today and … embrace it and go on to do incredible, amazing creative things. Make sure it is you, and not just your neighbor."
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