Explore the Strategy of Facebook Marketing
In the first few years of social networking, MySpace was the big name. Between 2003 and 2006, it grew to 100 million users, and by June 2006, the website was even more visited than Google. Then came Facebook.
In this article...
By 2008, Facebook had surpassed MySpace in worldwide users, and in United States users a year later. As MySpace declined (it dropped to approximately 25 million users in June 2012), some businesses wondered about making a major advertising investment in Facebook—might it not also be displaced as MySpace was?
Well, perhaps—but in the meantime Facebook has surpassed 950 million users (and about 145 million users in the United States, about 43 percent of the nation’s population). Other than Google.com, it is the single most visited website on the Internet, giving companies unprecedented access to potential consumers.
Facebook marketing refers to creating—and actively using—a Facebook page as a communications channel to maintain contact with and attract customers. Facebook actively provides for this, allowing users to create individual profiles or business pages for companies, organizations, or any group attempting to develop a fan base for a product, service, or brand.
Featuring nearly a billion potential customers, every business should be using Facebook. It is at least as essential as having a business web page—and actually much easier to create. Whether you represent a big brand or a small business employing only a handful of people, you can bet that some portion of your customers are already on Facebook. Commonly, Facebook marketing is used by:
While originally marketed to college students, Facebook has expanded well beyond that demographic (See also Campus Marketing). More than half of all users are in the 18-34 age range, and slightly more than half of United States users are women. In the United States, about half of all user profiles are accessed through mobile devices as well as through computers. Due to its considerable amount of users, there is a wide variety of market segments that can be reached on Facebook, and an active fan base for nearly any niche.
A more helpful question about Facebook customers would be: When is Facebook marketing most effective? For brand and company pages, posts made in the morning attract more comments than posts made in the afternoon. Consumers at home may check Facebook at any time during the day (the peak traffic period is around 3:00 in the afternoon). However, working or school-going consumers commonly check Facebook before and after work/school; therefore, only posting during the 9-5 business day misses a lot of opportunities.
Facebook pages are often linked to company web pages elsewhere on the Internet; therefore, it’s often a good idea to use some of the same information in both places, in order to maintain a familiarity. A business page can be searched for as soon as it is up, but unlike a personal profile, you cannot invite friends through it. Business pages do not get “friends,” they get “fans”—and that distinction does make a difference. (See also Web Marketing)
To create an initial seed for the fan base, each member of the marketing team should begin by liking the business page on their own personal profiles; all employees, in fact, should be encouraged to join in. When an individual likes a page, Facebook immediately posts (read: advertises) this event to their profile—and this activity can be seen by every one of their friends. “Joe Smith likes [this brand].” The word begins to spread.
A variety of different applications can be added to a Facebook page. Downloading various apps can allow you to:
Every Facebook user who likes a page will get to see any content a business posts, and be notified of posts through their news feed. If they are engaged by that content, they may comment on it, or like that item; and “Joe Smith commented on [this brand’s] status update” appears on all of their friends’ news feeds. Additionally, they may share this content, which will post (again, read: advertise) the entire content to their own profiles, and notify their friends to come look. The company's task, then, is to encourage this process as much as possible.
The most important aspect of Facebook marketing is consistency of communication. Creating a Facebook page and then leaving it alone will net a business nothing. To attract fans, a business should regularly post new content in a variety of different formats, so that more people will see and share the page. Content can announce upcoming promotions, spot-light specific products or people, share fun facts, provide incentive codes for discounts on products and services, and anything else that will catch the interest of fans.
Given the way Facebook’s news feed works, the recency of a post is a major factor in organizing what a user sees. The average user has more than 130 friends, and may be a fan of several brands, personalities, and organizations. When he or she logs in, there is no way to instantly see activity from every one of those sources.
The news feed shows them posts from the friends/etc. they interact with most, and which are more recent. Therefore, a company's post is only likely to be visible on their fans’ news feeds for about three hours after they post it. Furthermore, depending upon the time of day they post, it is likely to be seen by entirely different portions of their fan base.
In addition to varied content and formating, posts should invite customers to interact and respond. Businesses should present consistent calls to action, which can be as simple as “watch this,” “like this,” or “share this." Additionally, businesses can invite participation through contests and polls (which are also a way to collect market research). Such low-commitment investments encourage familiarity and affinity in their customer base.
This positive relationship can be further promoted through maintaining two-way communication. In other words, when fans post a comment on content, businesses should respond. How much they respond will depend upon how many fans comment, and how much time they can commit to Facebook marketing; but the more any particular fan interacts with a page, the more likely he or she is to buy. (See also User-Generated Marketing)
What do they do?
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Education and experience
Most marketing managers have at least a bachelor’s degree (often in marketing, advertising, or business management) and substantial successful experience in conducting online commerce. They must be expert in social media and online business models. Education preparing them for this career includes classes in marketing, market research, consumer behavior, with an emphasis in online market behavior.
What do they do?
Education and experience
Most advertising managers have at least a bachelor’s degree in advertising or marketing, as well as substantial successful experience in creating and executing advertising campaigns. They must know how to advertise through multiple communications channels, including social media. Education preparing them for this career includes classes in media arts, market research, and consumer behavior.
What do they do?
Education and experience
Public relations managers need at least a bachelor’s degree, usually in public relations or communications; about one-fourth of them also have a master’s degree. Managers often also have a minor in advertising, business management, or marketing. They must also demonstrate expertise in all communications channels, including social media. Work experience often begins with an internship supporting more experienced staff members, or writing for a company newsletter or blog. Other necessary skills include excellent speaking and writing ability, organization, and management.
Effective Facebook marketing requires the ability to use social media effectively, engaging customers such that they increase their participation level. Both consumer knowledge and excellent communication skills are required, and a good marketing program will help to develop them. (See also Social Media Strategist)
A marketing program will teach you how to better understand your customers. Classes in market research (including statistical analysis) will equip you to identify different consumer segments, and how to reach them. You’ll learn how to identify and adjust to changes in supply and demand, and how to deal with various trends and opportunities in the market. As the market has become increasingly shaped by online business and social media, specific courses of study will prepare you for these domains, and help you understand how customers function differently in this venue than in the traditional market environment.
Another major area of focus in a marketing program is communications. At a marketing school, you will not only learn how to communicate through a variety of different means and channels, but you will be required to practice speaking and presentations skills in your other classes. You will learn not only sales communication, but also organizational and online communication. Likewise, you’ll not only communicate through words, but also through pictures, videos, graphs, and other media. This array of skills will be important when using social media (such as Facebook) to promote your client(s), as you’ll be able to employ multiple methods to reach multiple market segments.
To learn more about what a marketing school can do for you, request information from schools with degrees in marketing. You might even be able to contact them through their Facebook pages.