Facebook has grown too big for marketers to ignore. Over 117 million Americans visited Facebook in March 2010 and the average visitor spent almost seven hours during the month on the site, as tracked by Nielsen. According to comScore, from March 2009 to March 2010 Facebook’s unique visitors increased about 90 percent and its average minutes per visitor increased almost 50 percent.
To show that there’s been a tipping point, traffic to Facebook has exceeded traffic to Google since the week ending March 13, 2010. From a marketing perspective, it’s important to note that Facebook, like Google, has become a major referrer of traffic. For example, Starbucks has over 7 million Fans (or, in Facebook-speak, “people who like it”). Furthermore, Facebook is the most searched term across search engines, according to Experian Hitwise. Marketers should also note that Facebook is becoming device indifferent. While computers are the preferred device for checking Facebook, 46 percent of the under 35 demographic use their mobile phone to access Facebook, based on Retrevo’s October 2009 Gadgetology Report.
7 Actionable Facebook Tactics for Marketers
While Facebook was initially used by entities with small budgets, such as advocacy and not-for-profit organizations, now, everyone’s using it. Facebook is a “must have” for every marketer whether you’re a retailer, brand, or media entity. Even companies in regulated industries, whose legal and compliance hurdles make social media a challenge to implement, are using it. For example, TIAA-CREF, a well established financial services company, just launched its “Raise the Rate” campaign on Facebook.
But Facebook requires a different approach from other forms of marketing messaging and engagement. To develop and expand your Facebook marketing strategy, here are seven actionable tactics:
- Publish on Facebook to create interactions with and among your fans. Think like a gossip magazine to give fans something to talk about. Focus on information that’s important and interesting to your audience. For example, Live Nation uses Facebook to discuss music and concerts, not to explicitly push ticket sales.
- Give people a reason to join. To this end, use virtual gifts, coupons, contests, and insider tips. While in many ways, these alternatives aren’t very different from offline promotions, they require a different lens to ensure that you’re not perceived as just promoting your services. For example, Einstein Bros Bagels runs a “Shmear Campaign” to grow fans on Facebook.
- Use Facebook to expand relationships with your prospects, customers, and fans. Many marketers use Facebook to expand their pool of prospects. This can be extended to responding directly to fans when asked or recognizing personal events such as birthdays. For example, The Denver Post, an older media format, is using Facebook to expand the reach of their classifieds.
- Make Facebook communications conversational. Act like you’re talking to real people, not just spewing corporate-speak! Despite its extensive reach, Facebook isn’t a broadcast medium. Here are a few recommendations to guide your interactions:
- Listen carefully to what’s being said before joining the conversation.
- Let consumers talk to each other when they’re discussing your company and products. Other customers may answer their questions before you have to. Curb your impulse to respond to every comment.
- Actively participate without each comment being inwardly focused on your firm. Remember, no one likes someone who only talks about themselves.
- Only remove inappropriate content. This doesn’t mean anything at all negative about your company or brands, but rather abusive or foul language.
- Leverage supporting marketing and collateral to promote your Facebook presence. To support your firm’s Facebook efforts, it’s critical to promote it across your other media and communications. In addition, make sure that the content on your website and other channels can be shared on Facebook easily. This helps expand your reach and prospect base through friends of friends.
- Give your Facebook initiatives sufficient support to succeed. This translates into dedicating sufficient headcount to develop content and participate on Facebook and having sufficient content that’s targeted to Facebook’s unique needs. It also means having management support for these efforts, as well as establishing company guidelines for employee participation.
- Measure your Facebook marketing efforts and their impact on your business goals. Among the salient metrics to track are the number of fans and sales. With Facebook, it’s important to look deeper to determine how many new prospects you’ve acquired, the level of interaction and advocacy for your product offering, the impact on your purchase funnel, and the amount of earned media generated.
Facebook has proven to be much more than a passing fad. Many organizations now realize that it has turned into a powerful marketing medium, so long as you do the required planning and integrate it properly with the rest of your marketing and overall business strategy.