Facebook and Social Media

Companies are becoming more aware of the impact of social media in people’s lives and seeking professionals savvy in social media strategies.  Social media has traditionally been a way of life for the younger generation, but we see more and more people of all ages engaging in social networks, such as Facebook, to build and keep up with relationships.

Relationships, let’s not forget, are key in marketing strategies.  While companies certainly want the one-time buyer, it is far more profitable to have a long-time loyal customer.  When you establish a relationship with your customers, you know they will turn to you for more services and new products.  Repeat business is easier – and cheaper – to get, versus constantly churning the new business wheel for new customers and re-inventing your brand.

Facebook is a great place to reconnect with high school friends and stay in touch with relatives, former co-workers and business associates.  Facebook, with its 400 million users, is a new and surprisingly ideal way for a business to start and maintain a relationship with consumers.

Although Facebook is thought to be the domain of the young, it is, in fact, becoming an important way to communicate to those well past college years.  According to Peter Corbett and StrategyLabs, from October 2007 to August 2008, the growth rate of Facebook users 35-54 grew 172.9 percent and for the next six months after that, the growth rate was 276.4 percent. That demo is doubling every two months.

Not far behind is the 55+ demographic, which is accelerating its Facebook growth rate by 194.3 percent. For those in the desirable 25-34 group, their Facebook use is doubling every six months.

No, Facebook is not just for the youth. What does that mean for you – the marketer? It means an incredible opportunity to establish relationships with the growing Facebook users. Putting an ad on Facebook is not likely to produce an immediate sale as a direct marketing piece or ad would.  Facebook advertising instead works through the entire advertising cycle. Like its “friends,” it starts a relationship and then works on a long-term cycle.

So, if you’re looking for the traditional 3×1 ratio return on your advertising dollars, Facebook (or other social media networks) may not be appealing to your finance group.  But a smart marketer will dedicate a portion of the marketing budget to long-term brand building initiatives.  I was asked once during a speech I gave, how much or what portion of ad dollars should be allocated to these initiatives.  My response:  there is not an accurate “right formula,” but be willing to take a few risks, so long as you can maintain a healthy cash flow.  Your CEOs, investors, board and even franchisees are willing to take risks and engage in long-term brand building, so long as you are generating sales with your combined efforts.

What are some ways to produce results from Facebook?  Start by using the information given by its users. For instance, if your target audience is among the over-50 group, then it is a simple exercise to locate all those who give their birth year…..and buy space for retirement communities, insurance, travel – all geared to that age group.  Similarly, every woman who lists her status as “engaged” would probably not mind seeing ads for florists, wedding planners, dresses and all that goes into planning a wedding.  Each ad could not only be tailored to that group in general, but to the specific zip code…. so women in Cincinnati looking for a reception hall would not find out what’s available in Newark.  The ads are appropriate and targeted.  The Facebook user sees them and uses them when he or she is ready, but the awareness is built up every time Facebook is used.

There are 11 key factors for Facebook success in reaching a marketer’s audience. They should target Facebook users by: location, age, sex, birthday, key words, education, workplace, relationship status, interested in, language and connections. Using those markers, an advertiser can start creating awareness and build a relationship. Ads should obviously include a link to a landing page that would provide the Facebook user with the company’s more direct sales pitch. Once the Facebook user “friends” or “becomes a fan of”, the advertiser can send even more targeted messages – – and the relationship is secured.

It’s all about building relationships between your brand and your customer.

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