Leveraging Social Media: Facebook

Despite there being hundreds of social networking sites out on the web, Facebook has become the quintessential platform to connect with other users worldwide.  Latest research puts the amount of monthly active users on Facebook between 845-850 million, so it’s evident that it’s become the most popular social site among regular users and businesses. However, the main question still persists: how can brands properly leverage Facebook as a marketing tool?

There are a number of different strategies marketers can employ with Facebook:

1) The most evident approach is using paid ads to target specific users, similar to a PPC approach on Google or Bing. However, Facebook gives marketers an opportunity to segment by multiple variables, such as location, demographics, interests, etc. By mining through millions of users, marketers can create more effective and potentially viable paid campaigns through extensive targeting. In fact, Facebook reported $3.8 billion in revenue from ad spending on it’s platform, and with revenues projected to rise to $7 billion by 2013, it seems that those ads you see on the side will not be disappearing anytime soon. With 90% of it’s revenue coming from paid advertising, expect Facebook to provide businesses with incentives such as Google does presently with Adwords coupons. In fact, with the new timeline roll-out and more data for marketers to mine through, these ads will become more effective in targeting users, which should translate into higher conversion rates for marketers – all this depends on the call to actions created by marketers. Poor strategic planning will lead to low conversion rates, whereas proper planning will translate into more effective call to actions, increasing CTR’s and conversions.

credit to marcopako at http://www.flickr.com/photos/marcopako

2) Developing a Facebook page and increasing likes and shares still remains the most popular strategy for businesses. If you have a relatively small budget, investing resources into creating a decorative welcome tab and posting on a weekly basis remains the most cost effective approach and will result in an increase in your audience. With the new timeline format replacing traditional welcome pages (which can still be seen in the Apps tab), marketers must now rely on participating posting and creating a community effect to captivate audiences. Contests, surveys, and posts encouraging users to share still remains the most effective approach to increasing likes and shares. With shares becoming more integral in determining relevancy according to Google, it’s up to marketers to produce original and fresh content.

3) “Social Shopping” is a relatively new strategy that some marketers are employing and provide a means for retailers to purchase while browsing Facebook. According to ArgyleSocial, social shopping is still in it’s infancy and many retailers have not exploited the opportunities available. Of those surveyed, only 17% featured products, with 4% total providing a checkout feature. If you’re a retailer and want to differentiate your brand from the competition, integrating a checkout option on your Facebook page may provide an opportunity to engage your audience. Promoting discounts, offering deals, and distributing coupons will increase interest in social shopping, and in turn, will provide your brand with the ability to increase sales through social media marketing.

Clearly, Facebook presents marketers with a multitude of opportunities when it comes to investing in social media. Paid advertising still represents the most expensive strategy, yet is the most likely to produce the ROI that businesses covet. eCommerce integration is relatively new and may not catch on in the long run, but it provides that unique component for differentiation, and the untapped potential is limitless for brands that exploit the first-mover advantage. Of course, sharing content and building an audience through increasing likes remains the most effective strategy to position itself within the evoked set of consumers and illustrates the minimum businesses should be doing when it comes to social media marketing. With 98% of Facebook users being active and 60% of them logging in several times a day, marketers need to embrace this platform, regardless of their target market. Evidently, B2C (business to consumer) marketing is more appropriate, but B2B (business to business) marketing also proves effective relative to the industry. If you’re developing an online marketing strategy, be sure to incorporate Facebook as one of the primary tools in which you must invest.

This was the first of five platforms that I’ll explore for Social Media Marketing strategies, and I’ll provide an analysis of Twitter in my next post.

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