Facebook is a social networking website that was founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts on February 4, 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg. Mark created Facebook along with his roommates Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes while he was a student at Harvard University. Facebook users have the opportunity to interact with other users across the world by joining networks through their city, workplace, region, and school. Website membership was initially limited to Harvard students, and today the website currently has more than 175 million active users worldwide. Today, the value of Facebook is climbing to $1 billion, almost double the value of MySpace. Facebook is faring well in its social networking space, targeting not only college students around the ages of 18-24, but teens the age of 13 and up as well. College students represent the largest demographic on Facebook, but the fastest-growing demographic happens to be women aged 55 and over. Why the rise in older users? Some believe that parents are embracing the technology that their children are using in order to keep up with what they’re doing, while others see it as a natural progression of the adoption cycle. Even though Facebook’s numbers are still below MySpace, the high growth rate shows great potential.
Why is it important for businesses?
The number of consumers on social networking sites like Facebook is on the rise, and it’s crucial that businesses don’t miss this opportunity to leverage the web. Facebook provides many ways for companies to promote their brand and products, and also provides a way to communicate with consumers. Additionally, Facebook provides a database of real people with real demographic information, segmented into countries and districts, all with their individual interests and needs. With a general understanding of how Facebook works, this makes targeting your customers extremely easy.
Furthermore, Facebook offers exuberant potential in the realms of business networking. Although the website’s main utilization is that of a colossal social connector, its popularity among business associates is on the rise. Industry-specific groups allow one to convene with others in pursuit of similar professional endeavors. This provides a venue for business professionals to get involved in their industry and to meet other business professionals. Users can join groups, create new ones, add events, create Pages and even build interactive applications that run within the Facebook environment. These tools allow one to tailor the face they want displayed to the public. With its millions of users, Facebook will soon define social and professional networking. The following sections describe the multiple ways a business can use Facebook to reach customers, which will ultimately increase sales and profits.
I. Make a Top-Notch Profile
This is the FIRST thing that you must do to make an impact on Facebook. Facebook’s greatest benefit is that it lets you to build a community. Your Facebook profile is a representation of you, and is a way for your customers to see the face behind the business. An effective profile should include a photo of you, contact information, and information about you and your company. Be sure to include your web address, education, work experience and your personal interests. A profile enables you to connect with people, which can be done by adding friends, joining groups, writing on walls, and creating events.
What makes Facebook a great platform is the ability to make friends, build relationships and to foster them. The more relationships you build, the more worthwhile your marketing efforts will be. Facebook’s own tools allow you to search for and find friends that are already on Facebook. Facebook also allows you to see friends of your friends. This will help you build an extensive network in little to no time with minimal effort.
Joining and Creating Facebook Groups
You can join groups within Facebook that are relevant to the groups of people you’re looking to reach. Almost every kind of business has some type of an online group. If you can’t find a group to belong to, start your own. Invite your friends, add members, publish articles, and carry on discussions. This will contribute toward your goal of building long lasting relationships and creating brand loyalty.
All profiles come with “virtual walls” where friends and other users can leave comments. The more comments you leave on your friend’s Facebook profiles, such as a “Happy Birthday” or “I enjoyed helping you design your custom engagement ring,” the more exposure you get.
Events are a great way to invite your friends to any special occasions or to inform them of special promotions. You can add a relevant picture and can even see who has accepted the invite. There is also a Wall where guests can leave questions or comments. This allows you to receive feedback from your guests after the event has taken place.
Syndicate your Blog Using RSS
If you already have your own blog you can syndicate it on your Facebook profile page. What this means is that every time you make a post, it will automatically show up on your profile page.
To reach the Advertising page, scroll down to the bottom of the Home page and click on Advertising. This will take you to a page where you can develop your advertisement step by step. Businesses should write clear, targeted ads with concise text that speaks directly to the audience you look to target. Advertising can be implemented in 4 steps.
Step 1: Design Your Ad
The title can have up to 25 characters and the body can have up to 135 characters. Make sure to put an attractive and relevant image in your ad that is appropriate for the product or service being advertised. As you are creating your ad, a preview of it will be shown to you. You may also upload a photo or image. You then need to decide whether you want people to be directed to your own web page or a different Facebook page, like an Application, Group or Event. In this step, you may also choose to attach social actions to your advertisement. You can also choose to allow Facebook to add content that notifies a user of their friends’ interactions with your brand or business on Facebook.
Step 2: Targeting
You can target your audience by location, age, sex, keywords, education, workplace, relationship status, and relationship interests. This allows you to target your exact audience with demographic and psychographic filters about real people. By default, Facebook targets all users 18 and older. However, you can modify this to reach the most appropriate population of people for your ad.
Step 3: Campaigns and Pricing
The next step is to name your campaign. Keep in mind ads in the same campaign share a daily budget and schedule. Once you’ve set up your campaign, set your daily budget and your schedule (NOTE: The minimum budget is $1.00 a day). You can schedule the ad to run continuously once the ad is approved, or between a specified start and end date. You must decide whether you want to pay for clicks or pay for views. Finally, you’ll want to confirm the maximum you are willing to pay per click or per 1000 impressions depending on your payment method. The suggested bid range lists what other advertisers are currently bidding to reach people in your target market.
Step 4: Review Your Ad
The final step of the ad creation process is to review your ad. Check the target market, budget, and the ad itself for errors. You can go back and change any of the details by clicking “Change Ad”. Once you’ve reviewed your ad you’ll be asked to enter your credit card information. Click “Place Order” to execute your order. All ads go through a quality review prior to being shown to ensure that they meet content guidelines.
III. Facebook Page
A Facebook Page is a profile that enables businesses to share products with Facebook users. Fans of the page are able to share comments about the product and are notified of status updates through the news feed on the homepage. Pages are a great way for businesses to communicate with consumers, educate them about their products, and stimulate positive word of mouth. To reach the Page page, click on Advertising at the bottom of the Home page. Then click the Pages tab, and this will take you to a page where you can develop your company page step by step.
Step 1: Pick a Category and a Name
The first step is to select the industry your line of business is in, whether your page is for a product or a brand, or if the page is for promoting a public figure or band. The name of the page should be the exact name of your company or organization.
Step 2: Add a Picture
The picture should be clear, unique and representative of your company or organization.
Step 3: Add the basic information about the company
This includes information like who you are, what you do, where you are located, and when customers can buy your products.
Step 4: Edit Tabs and Add Applications
By default, the Page has a Wall tab for you and your fans to share content, an Info tab for you to share business information, and a Boxes tab for application modules. Tabs can also be used for other applications, such as Photos, Reviews, and Discussion Board. Tabs can also be customized accordingly by outside developers, such as a tab for “The Four C’s” for 5th C Jewelry.
Step 5: Publish the Page
Click “Publish this Page” to publish your Page. Make sure to select which countries you want to be able to view your page and any age restrictions.
You can edit your Page anytime by clicking the “Edit Page” link. Here you can set certain controls, such as the default landing tab for users who are not yet fans of your Page. You can also choose whether or not to allow fans to share Wall posts or photos.
Facebook Ads (discussed above) can also be linked to your Page.
You can also link your Facebook Page from elsewhere around the Web by using a “Find us on Facebook” badge. Be sure to invite friends to your Page by clicking the “Share” button in the lower left corner of the Wall or Info tab.
Step 6: Update Your Page Regularly
In order for the Facebook Page to be successful, it’s crucial to keep your customers engaged. The page should be interactive, vivid and easy to navigate through to reach your customers. Keep your fans interested by adding new photos, videos, upcoming events, and new product information. By keeping your page active, fans will receive more information about your Page through the news feed which will stimulate more brand awareness.
You can also send your fans messages by clicking “Send an Update to Fans” in the upper-right of your Page. Updates are useful for sending out announcements like promotions, sales or events.
IV. Facebook Platform
Lexicon is a tool used to understand what Facebook users are talking about on Walls. This could help your business see what the latest trends are, and how often your product category is mentioned.
The system counts the number of occurrences for any term (example: engagement ring) across profile, group, and event Walls. The system strips out all personally identifiable information so that there is no way to track anything back to a specific person. Lexicon does not look at personal messages, invitations, or any other private user-to-user communications.
To reach Lexicon, click on Advertisements at the bottom of the Home page. Then click on the Lexicon tab at the top of the page.
Shopit is a Facebook Application that allows users to buy, sell or trade products and services. Shopit allows you to establish your own ecommerce presence using a customizable storefront. You can then mass syndicate your catalog to any website, blog, or social network using the store widget. The Shopit universe can be as big as your online circle of influence and can be managed by Shopit’s networking tools. To access Shopit, click on Application at the bottom left corner of the Home page, and search “Shopit”.
VII. Targeting the Right Demographic
It is imperative for companies to know which Facebook applications are the most popular in order to advertise to the most people. One of the most popular applications is the Facebook for Blackberry Smartphones application. This application has 48.9% of users returning to it daily. Out of the 3.5 million users that have installed the application, 1.7 million are using it daily. Blackberry users are the most active mobile Facebook users so far.
In order to make a profit, it is important for companies to advertise the right product to the right audience. Knowing who the social networking demographic is will help companies know which products will sell. 84% of the members on Facebook are between the ages of 14 and 26, so in order to generate the highest amount of ROI, marketing to this group would be most efficient. The products that would be most suitable for this group would be products such as brand name clothing, games, and sports equipment. 55% of Facebook members are female and 45% are male, which shouldn’t affect any advertising decisions. 47% of the members are currently attending high school or college and the remaining 53% have finished school. Most Facebook users have a college degree or have completed some college courses, so the content and wording in advertisements should be designed for well educated consumers.
Companies can also do marketing research through the “Facebook Polls” application. This application allows you to conduct research to find out information about your consumers, which ultimately leads to higher profits. You can access this application by clicking on the Application button on the bottom left corner of the Home page. There are multiple types of polls available, and users are able to target the poll based on gender, age, location or profile keyword. The Facebook Poll application is an essential tool for brand advertisers and marketing researchers to use because of the quick and targeted insights that the millions of users give them.
There are many ways for businesses to capitalize on Facebook’s marketing opportunities. Facebook is an excellent way to network with professionals from similar industries, share ideas, advertise, communicate with consumers, and to provide an online face for your business.
- O’Neill, Nick. “How to Develop a Facebook Page That Attracts Millions of Fans.” 11 Mar. 2009. 4 Apr. 2009 <www.allfacebook.com>.
- Facebook. 4 Apr. 2009 <http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/advertising/?src=pf>.
- “The Facebook Marketing Toolbox: 100 Tools and Tips to Tap the Facebook Customer Base.” InsideCRM. 4 Apr. 2009 <http://www.insidecrm.com/features/facebook-marketing-toolbox-012308/>.