According to Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, on July 21, 2010 the popular social networking site had surpassed 500 million active users worldwide. Seeking to profit from this enormous user-base, Facebook has introduced a number of marketing and advertising tools, the most well-known of these being “Pages”. The Facebook “Pages” application has now become a must-have marketing tool for businesses, along with email and texting. Unlike any other marketing tool, though, Facebook “Pages” requires a new level of business interaction to be successful.
Setting up a Facebook page is a free and relatively easy process. However, unlike websites and other social media outlets such as MySpace, Facebook pages cannot be themed or re-aligned to fit a unique layout. Instead, Facebook pages rely heavily on the content added by their authors and fans. The authors of certain pages can post short feed-updates, send messages to fans, add profile pictures, upload photo albums, post notes (similar to blog posts), create calendar events, and add custom page tabs. These authors often use the custom tabs on their pages to display everything from fancy advertisements to point-of-sale applications. All other content added to the page, such as wall posts and reviews, can only be added by users who “like” or join the pages.
The user element of Facebook marketing is what separates it from previous forms of marketing. Advertisements in print media, radio and television have always been unavoidable and expected. If users wish to watch a television program, they expect to sit through at least several advertisements; however on Facebook, the users are not forced to view details of any particular product, but instead must seek out the product they are interested in. This new form of marketing has yet to be directly linked to a solid financial return, but major companies like Pepsi are already starting large advertising campaigns on social media sites (Morrissey, “Does Social Sell?”).
Although marketing on Facebook is relatively new, certain approaches to marketing on Facebook have already been found to be more effective than others.Some of the most common of these marketing techniques are: attention, interaction and incentives. To draw large amounts of fans through attention, some pages attract users with humorous videos and catchy graphics. As Morrisey noted in “Hoping to find some new fans for a great brand…”, soft drink manufacturer Coca-Cola is a leader in this marketing. After taking over a fan-created page containing viral Coke-into-Mentos videos, the company expanded the page and now boasts millions of fans. Other companies such as Old Spice utilize fan interaction on their Facebook page with a video response section called “Old Spice Guy”, and on September 12th had over 965,000 fans (Facebook). The last way of drawing fans, using incentives, has been successfully used to fuel the Starbucks coffee chains page, which was the number one business page on Facebook as of August 2010 (Neff).
Many pages do not share the success of Starbucks and Coca-Cola, however. This is commonly due to issues such as poor page management, lack of content, and weak product branding. Although a brand such as a small-town plumbing company may never see thousands of fans, some common mistakes can drive away fans and hurt a company’s brand. The first of these mistakes is spamming users with irrelevant, preachy, or repetitive posts. Another mistake can be a dry and boring page, often the result of a poor quality profile picture and a lack of information about the product or brand. According to Brian Bennett, the owner of Social Life Marketing, llc., in order to avoid dry and uninteresting pages authors have to “[s]tep outside of [their] traditional box”. By forcing companies to fight for the user’s attention, Facebook has changed the way business advertising is run.
One thing is clear: Facebook pages are here to stay. Unlike MySpace and other fading social networking sites, Facebook has attracted the time and attention of many major corporations and is becoming a must-have for up-and-coming corporations. Major players such as Coca-Cola are now seeing their Facebook pages receive more hits than their individual websites, and Advertising Age magazine wrote that this shift was not unintended (Neff). Facebook control panels make targeting specific demographics much easier, and with the increasing development of targeted advertising, Facebook sites are slowly gaining preference over traditional websites.
Only time can tell how much of an impact Facebook will have on the marketing world as a whole, but it has already become one of the most popular platforms for interactive marketing.
In the end, there is one similarity that Facebook shares with all other forms of internet marketing: the success of any marketing campaign hangs on its creator’s ability to use the platform effectively.
Zuckerberg, Mark. “500 Million Stories.”The Facebook Blog | Facebook. Facebook, 21 July 2010. Web. 07 Oct. 2010. <http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=409753352130>.
Morrissey, Brian. “Does Social Sell?.” Brandweek 51.7 (2010): 8-9. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO.Web. 14 Oct. 2010.
Morrisey, Brian. “Hoping to find some new fans for a great brand ..” Brandweek 50.36 (2009): 13-15. Academic Search Premier.EBSCO.Web. 14 Oct. 2010.
Facebook.“Old Spice” Old Spice | Facebook. Facebook, 12 October 2010. Web. 12 Oct. 2010. <http://www.facebook.com/OldSpice>
Neff, Jack. “What happens when Facebook trumps your brand site?.” Advertising Age 81.30 (2010): 2-22. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO.Web. 14 Oct. 2010.
Bennett, Brian. “Social Life Marketing” The Social Media Club of Evansville, Evansville. 16 Aug. 2010. Address.