Love it or hate it, Facebook is here to stay. With over 800 million Facebook users, there’s a massive audience for your company’s or organization’s message. Your current customers/clients are on Facebook. Your prospective customers/clients are on Facebook.
Here are some of the most recent statistics:
- 901 million monthly active users at the end of March 2012.
- Approximately 80% of our monthly active users are outside the U.S. and Canada.
- 526 million daily active users on average in March 2012.
- 488 million monthly active users who used Facebook mobile products in March 2012, and more than 500 million mobile monthly active users as of April 20, 2012.
- During March 2012, on average 398 million users were active with Facebook on at least six out of the last seven days.
- More than 125 billion friend connections on Facebook at the end of March 2012.
- On average more than 300 million photos uploaded to Facebook per day in the three months ended March 31, 2012.
- An average of 3.2 billion Likes and Comments generated by Facebook users per day during the first quarter of 2012.
- More than 42 million Pages with ten or more Likes at the end of March 2012.
As Facebook evolves, companies are trying to figure out just how much time, effort and money they should be spending on their Facebook presences. While some major companies have dived in with multi-faceted Facebook campaigns, others have stood on the sidelines.
The problem with Facebook is that the great majority of visitors go to the site for personal reasons. Users want to communicate with friends, post vacation pictures and just tell the world what they’re up to. As a rule, they are not in a "business" frame of mind. This is in stark contrast to LinkedIn, which is heavily geared to the business community.
Does this mean that businesses should ignore Facebook? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
The first thing to understand is that there are two kinds of pages on Facebook: user profiles and “Pages.” Individual profiles are the personal profiles kids and adults (i.e. individual users) create to keep the world updated on their activities.
Pages, on the other hand, are designed to create a Facebook presence for brands, organizations, businesses. Pages are commonly used by businesses as marketing tools. Facebook makes it simple to create these pages.
Pages can be simple or elaborate. Since the page reflects on your business, it is important to do it right. Elements of the Page should include:
- Clear identification of your brand
- Photos and logos
- Brand messaging
- Your services
- Your products
- Company messaging
- Humanize your executives and employees
- Special events
- Facebook “exclusives”
Facebook offers a variety of tools to make your page look professional, including Facebook’s own version of HTML to help style your pages, called Facebook Markup Language (FBML). As in any marketing presentation for your company, the more professional and fresh content you can provide, the more effective it will be in helping your company achieve a high ROI on its Facebook online marketing investment.
Direct Links to E-Commerce
Your company’s Facebook Page is just one click away from your company’s ecommerce website design. Parlay your captive Facebook audience into direct sales with compelling offers on your Facebook Page. Below is an example of how GAP uses Facebook to drive traffic to their store:
GAP on Facebook -> Click -> GAP Online Store
People are always looking for deals and Facebook gives businesses an opportunity to provide exclusive promotions to their Facebook fans. Not only do you reach a captive audience with each offering, you can measure the success of the campaign by having it exclusive to Facebook.
Modell’s sporting goods has embraced Facebook as a marketing and sales tool by offering a “Facebook Fridays” program where they offer discount coupons exclusively to their Facebook fans.
Integrate with Other Marketing Channels
Cooking.com regularly runs offers and contests exclusive to Facebook users, but promotes them across their newsletters. This allows the brand to connect newsletter subscribers to the brand's Facebook presence, increasing the chances that future marketing efforts will reach them successfully.
Papa John’s has over 2.4 million fans on Facebook. They do a terrific job of engaging their fans both with special offers and with social engagement. Recently, they’ve encouraged Facebook users to click the "like" button (which connects users' profiles to the Papa Johns page) in exchange for a a chance to "win a slice of the sales" and free pizza for life.
This is just one example of getting your visitors involved in your Facebook efforts. Other devices include contests, polls, lotteries and “featured fan” promotions.
Another major way of encouraging user-generated content is to allow fans make comments on that appear in the Facebook stream. This has multiple benefits. It makes fans feel like they have a relationship with their brand. It gives them an opportunity to praise the brand, make criticisms, make suggestions and just let their voices be heard.
This, in turn, becomes a great vehicle for customer service. So long as the stream is regularly monitored and the company is responsive to comments, then you have created a tremendous customer relations channel at relatively little cost.
While it may be impossible to respond to every post, when there are repeat concerns or suggestions, it is a terrific idea to reach out – directly – to your fans, listen to them and find solutions.
As Facebook continues to look for new ways to monetize, ads have recently proliferated. The reason for the explosive growth in Facebook advertising is that Facebook gives advertisers the opportunity to target ads with remarkable precision.
Advertisers can target ads based on myriad variables, including:
- Location (all the way down to zip codes)
- Relationship status (single, engaged, married)
Using multiple variables, you can actually use Facebook Ads to deliver an ad to a single individual. Facebook’s targeting tool will tell you the exact number of people you will reach with any specific group of targeted factors.
We have tried to provide a small sample of the ways in which businesses are using Facebook to engage current customers and entice new ones. Before diving in to the world of Facebook, we encourage business owners to do a bit of research:
- What kinds of offers and services are companies providing on Facebook?
- What kind of presence do key competitors have on Facebook?
- What marketing tools are working for your company in other online platforms?
Any business that chooses to ignore a universe of over 800 million potential customers or clients is making a huge mistake.