Facebook Advertising vs. Advertising Facebook

Two major issues face marketers seeking to tap the millions of highly-engaged Facebook users and harness their buying power or influence. The first is answering an age-old question in a brand new ecosystem; what is the value of a “like.” The second is whether or not to devote marketing and media resources with the primary objective of being liked (as opposed to being well-liked).

We’ll get to the value of a “like” in a moment. But first, I’d like to address the bigger issue in mind: the desire by marketers to drive customer engagement through and with their Facebook presences. Sure, that’s where millions of people hang out online, but let’s investigate whether it is in your best interest to promote your Facebook page as a point of engagement.

If you are mentioning your Facebook URL in offline/online advertising, or specifically driving users to your Facebook page when running Facebook advertising, consider the fact that you are one of the corporations doing Facebook’s marketing for it, perhaps more than accomplishing your own marketing objectives. A staggering percentage of advertising, including TV, radio (including the radio stations themselves), print, outdoor, and of course online marketing include a call to action to go to the advertiser Facebook page. That works out great for Facebook because it gets to piggy-back on billions of advertising dollars. Add to that the fact that social media outreach within Twitter and public relations initiatives often includes Facebook URLs. It’s good to be Facebook right now because billions of ad dollars and earned media exposure are all accruing to the Facebook brand.

Let’s look at what we marketers get (or can potentially get) when choosing to interact with our Facebook audiences:

  1. A “like,” which isn’t very useful as a CRM touchpoint. Sure, you may show up in the feeds or wall of the folks who like you, but your ability to proactively communicate with a “liker” is not there.
  2. Facebook Connect (or an application). Assuming you have a level of trust with your customer and prospect base, Facebook Connect allows you to have a greater level of proactive one-on-one communication with your target audience, both within Facebook and via email (yes, you can ask for the email address of users via Facebook Connect).

So, if you are currently only using “likes” as an objective for your online marketing (advertising and earned media), you may want to come up with a strategy that includes the use of Facebook Connect, and make sure you have something of value to offer your prospects and customers that will:

  • Get them excited about connecting (improving conversion rate)
  • Help them feel comfortable sharing their email address with you
  • Convince them that they should give you access to the full level of interaction with them and their social graph

“Likes” alone don’t cut it, but websites and applications enjoy the power of Facebook Connect, which has a lot of options available exclusively to it. Specifically:

  • Access your basic information: includes name, profile picture, gender, networks, user ID
  • Send you email
  • Access your profile information: i.e., birthday
  • Post to your wall: may post status messages, notes, photos, and videos
  • Access posts in your news feed
  • Access your data any time
  • May access your data when you’re not using the application
  • Access your friends’ information: birthdays, “likes,” music, TV, movies, books, quotes, and Facebook statuses
  • Access your contact information: online presence
  • Access your family and relationships: significant other and relationship details and family members and relationship status
  • Access your photos and videos: photos and videos uploaded by you, and photos and videos of you
  • Access your friends’ information: birthdays, religious and political views, family members, and…

Do you need full access to all of these areas? There will be a drop-off of acceptance of your connection terms if you ask for too much, but on the other hand, if you can propose a great reason why the consumer should give you full access to their Facebook universe, you can make a much stronger case for investment into the platform. For me, though, having email address access to the consumer is really important, because Facebook can change the rules of engagement at any time.

Facebook earns billions of dollars from advertising every year, and that number is growing as more and more time is spent on the Facebook site, particularly by power users (those who spend more than an hour a day on Facebook). It’s certainly worth looking at. But I don’t ascribe much value to a “like” alone, particularly when compared to a “connect.” With the right technology, you can track how your media and marketing are delivering “likes” and “connects.” If you want to assign an arbitrary or calculated value to a “like” or “connect” and manage search or display ad campaigns to optimize for that behavior, just make sure you’ve thought it through.

Kevin is off today. This column was originally published on May 13, 2011 on ClickZ.

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