Facebook.com/brand versus a new TLD. What’s a brand to do?

Last week I published an article in Ad Age that the editors titled “Should your company jump on the dot-brand bandwagon?“. I received several emails and LinkedIn requests from advertising and PR agencies as well as brand managers. One of the questions I received had to do with my opinion on whether brands that are currently promoting themselves via Facebook, e.g., “Find us on Facebook.com/brand,” should consider the new TLDs.

The fact is more and more brands are promoting themselves this way. Just note how many TV and online ads you see where the company asks their users and customers to find them or interact with them on Facebook. Why are they subjugating their brand? Well, they are simply chasing traffic, which for now it’s on Facebook. And Facebook is happily monetizing all that traffic for its own benefit.

I am a firm believer that the winners in life and business are those who are proactive and not reactive. Reactive decision-making often is impulsive and responds to stimuli such as fads or immediate rewards. Proactive decision-making, on the other hand, is thoughtful and considers the long-term consequences of risk and reward.

Now back to the question. By driving traffic to and building a brand underneath Facebook’s, companies are in effect subject to Facebook’s policies and fortunes, which these companies can’t control. If they are simply being reactive and chasing traffic, then they should ask themselves if they recall MySpace, or AOL Keywords. At one time these companies were media darlings with large subscriber bases. Yet their fortunes changed dramatically.

Though a new TLD is not suitable for many companies and brands, for those who seek greater control over security, user experience, policy and governance-and yes even monetization-it may be a great solution. Many well known internet brands today are facing declining traffic and time spent on their website, as their traffic is leaking to the social media and community sites. If they monetize that traffic or time to sell goods and services, that trend is foreboding.

Subjugating their brand by promoting it under another may stem the tide a bit in the short-term, but in the long-term means dilution, loss of control and yes, even declining revenue. If they can instead use a new TLD as a platform and a complement to their existing website where they can deliver a better user experience and innovative solutions, they may have hedged their bets better than their competitors.

The key is to study and truly understand customer needs, then use technology and changes in the regulatory landscape (such as the potential new gTLD rollout) to innovate.

As I said in the article, “smart brands, enterprises and entrepreneurs are already weighing their online options. The winners are likely to be the innovators who understand them and the nascent, and sometimes fickle, customer needs.”

Warmest Regards,
Alexa Raad

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