By: Justine Munroe & Tara Stuhr
What is Facebook?
Facebook is a social networking site that allows you to share, connect and like family, friends, and organizations. The site was originally created for college students to connect with each other within their own campuses as well as in other schools. The Facebook network slowly grew to be one of the most popular social media platforms in our current time, for all age generations from 13 and up. Facebook currently has 1.49 billion monthly active users. What are these users doing on Facebook? Facebook has a wide range of activities to participate in within the platform. One could like photos and posts, shared links, articles, and even stories from organizations. Many Facebook users use Facebook as a way to reach a wide range of people in a quick amount of time, especially for events, charities, sports games and many more you could possibly think of. The “norms” on Facebook, are to constantly update your profile, share and like other people’s things, keep your profile interesting, and especially segment your audience.
Why Would a Marketer Use Facebook?
A marketer has many opportunities to use Facebook as a means of marketing, whether it is through ads and promotions, or even just connecting with their consumers. The marketer has the option of placing ads within the Facebook news feed or within the sidebar to get the reader’s attention. The ad can be a photo and quote to catch the consumer’s eye, or a video to make a consumer think, or possibly just a blog or news article. The marketer can post offer claims, or app installs, and all within one platform you can also record who is looking at what ads, when, and where. The best part about this for a marketer is that most of these are rather cost efficient. A company has the opportunity to segment which ads are reaching specific customers. The platform divides Facebook users by all characteristics, including interests, hobbies, recent searches, demographics, and geography. It is easy for one company to, as it’s called today, “creep”, meaning search and see what their competitors are doing. This gives a company the chance to see what is their new product category, how much consumers love it, and what consumer didn’t love about it. Not only that, they can also see what ads are reaching the customers within their mutual market. Facebook is full of consumers’ photos, hobbies and absolutely their opinion. Marketers can use Facebook to connect to their loyal customers, and allows their customers to reach them as well. The way the platform works, one can post about their new sneakers and rave all about them, and the next month they could post about their newest pair, which they might hate. The caption says, “Worst money I have ever spent and it was on these.” All of this user’s followers are going to read and comment and find out why these sneakers are not worth anyone’s money. Then those people’s followers will see the post, and eventually it can reach many more people than the original reader had intended. But wait, at least now the company knows what they need to fix on the sneaker to make their consumers happy, and now they can fix this situation and make the current consumer extra happy. The company can now comment on the post apologizing and offering a free exchange and a gift card to help find them a pair that will work for their lifestyle. This shows the market that this company is all about their consumers and giving them what they want.
We all know about the several advertisements that continually bug us and get in the way of our Facebook stalking, but do people really know what it takes for that simple ad to be up on one of the most, if not the most, popular site on the Internet? Well, there’s several categories of advertising that a business can use to promote themselves on Facebook, besides just the annoying pop-up or side ads. The most simple and easiest way to advertise is earned media, which is mostly done by the consumers. If a Facebook user likes or comments about a specific brand, that is instant gratification for a company. However, if a user shares something about the brand, or shares the brand’s page, then that is simple word of mouth marketing, which sometimes the company typically has no control over. Recently, larger businesses have been getting creative with word of mouth marketing and they have been using their loyal customers to create some talk on behalf of their company, possibly for some sort of benefit. Owned media is also another form of marketing that gives most of the responsibility to the consumers. They can, for example, like a fan page. Having customers do this benefits companies because it might increase their reach to customers based on their activity. Lastly, paid media is a majority of what people think of when you mention Facebook advertising. This is the pop-up and side ads that generally get ignored, I’m guilty of it myself. All ads have to be paid for in some way, but the type of ad depends on the budget of the company. If a company wants to make their ad more elaborate to get more reach and connectability to customers, well, they will have to pay the price for it.
There are several tactics that companies can use to gain attention for their ad, which will hopefully add value to their customer base. A recent trend has been videos. A study has shown that video advertisements on Facebook, specifically, have gotten more activity from users than regular photo ads. In my personal opinion, I would rather watch a two minute long video with a story behind a company, than pass over a regular photo ad, but that is just one person’s opinion. Also, another tactic for companies is to be strategic about the times they are posting. The peak times to post are on weekends and at night. This might further your reach for Facebook users because this is the most active time of the day for users on the site. There are several tweaks a company can make to their Facebook profile to gain activity, but if the message a company is trying to convey is not clear and concise, then they are wasting their resources.
If you were to Google, “steps to a successful Facebook post for businesses,” an overwhelming amount of information would be piled up on your results page. However, I noticed a trend to most of the results, and it is usually to have a clear goal. What is the purpose to your post, and who are you trying to attract, and why? Smart advertisers would have those questions answered within a matter of seconds on their posts. This is what grabs the attention of users. Other steps I found would be to ask for engagement, include a photo/video or link or quiz. This is a simple step that allows customers to be more active with your ad or post, which could gain a company more reach. Also, a company’s ad should be brief and compelling. Many companies make their ads inspirational, making people like their company because of the message they convey. An advertisement on Facebook doesn’t always have to be promotional. In fact, I wish they weren’t. More times than not, a customer will remember a company if they taught them something new or moved them emotionally with their promotions. Lastly, companies should always keep track of the repercussions of their postings. Tracking the fans of your page should be a priority because many times “fake fans” will be the ones to hike up your likes, but it won’t mean much in the long run because if it’s a robot or a server controlling it, it’s wasting precious resources from a marketer’s budget. Also, monitoring your competitor’s posts is a strong tactic because it allows companies to stay competitive with each other. Using some of these steps for promotional purposes could make a company’s ads more compelling, which could broaden its fan base, helping it to gain awareness.